29 Feb A lighter approach to olive oil ice cream
This isn’t the best ice cream photo in the world, but it was perhaps the best ice cream experience I’ve had in a long, long time. And to think, I was prepared to dislike it.
Despite my recent revelations regarding misguided food biases, I still haven’t fully learned to open my mind when I open my mouth to taste. And for the past few years I’ve carried a grudge against olive oil ice cream — the one time “it dish” of the culinary world. Recipe variations clogged the internet. Food writers crafted sonnets about it. Trend spotters trampolined the dish at the top of their Hot Lists. For a while olive oil ice cream was the salted caramel/chocolate bacon/sweet potato fries of frozen desserts. It was embraced by everyone but me.
I had tried it at the celebrity restaurant that started the whole craze, and within 10 seconds regretted my $7/bowl purchase. While the initial flavour was pleasing, it left my mouth coated with oil and the lingering aftertaste was of … well… olive oil.
So, as Pimenton’s paella class wound down and Chef José Arato delivered bowls of homemade vanilla ice cream drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt, I figured I’d take a spoonful and politely claim to be too full to finish.
If I’d been alone, I’d have licked the bowl.
This dish silenced the room. Moments before, the room had buzzed with the chatter of a dozen food bloggers exchanging business cards, photo tips and twitter handles. When the ice cream arrived all you could hear was metal spoons scraping porcelain. Was the ice cream better than the paella? No. But it was unexpected. And it was far superior to the celebrity-chef version I’d had.
Chef José will tell you it’s not his recipe, it’s the olive oil. He used Dauro. I say it’s also his execution. A little oil drizzled over French vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with a tiny bit of finishing salt was a perfectly balanced dish. A bowl of oil-infused ice cream was overkill. For me.
Another diet blown. Another lesson learned. All this palate expansion is going to filter down to my waist.
Ever tried olive oil ice cream? What did you think of it? As for ice cream — what do you drizzle on your French vanilla? Aged balsamic vinegar? Or do you stick to chocolate sauce?