Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cool as a cone of cucumber

Yesterday I went to venerable Boston-based ice-cream store JP Licks on a hunt for El Diablo, their rendition of chocolate-chili gelato. I didn't find it--doubtless a seasonal flavor--but instead came away with something from the other end of the flavor scale: cucumber.

Yep. Cucumber ice-cream.

I wasn't sure what to expect; being mostly water, cucumber doesn't exactly pack a punch--no exuberant berry burst or deep coffee complexity. And I remembered trying the green tea ice-cream at
Christina's, in which that ingredient's subtle flavor was completely overpowered by the richness of the cream, and guessed that this would be similar.

(To Christina's credit, this was more than a decade ago, before the whole "let's start throwing all kinds of crazy stuff into the churn!" concept had really caught on. I'm sure it's much improved since then.)

In line to pay at JP Licks, too impatient to wait until I'd picked up a spoon, I swirled my tongue surreptitiously across the top of the ice-cream. It tasted just like ... cucumber. Perfectly crisp, refreshing cucumber. The cream was sweet, but not overly so. Just enough to heighten and enhance the cumber-ness.

After a few legitimate spoonfuls, I realized it was most comparable to a good melon ice-cream: light and fresh without being cloying.

After a few more, I started to wonder what to pair it with. In the same way that
Vosges's coconut-curry ice-cream would (I'm convinced) work with roast chicken, this flavor called out for a few thin slices of jamon serrano.

But I'm still not sure how to match up these two food groups in a sensible way.

Oooh, another option--slightly less insane--would be a chunk of zesty lemon cake. Maybe lemon-ginger.

Or of course lavender; we know how well the two ingredients pair in
my favorite cocktail ...

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