July 1, 2013

National Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day

"Ice cream trucks represent a spontaneous opportunity for kids to get into a certain kind of mischief that’s pretty serious." - Councilman Clem Lee Councilman Clem Lee

It's National Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day!

It only makes sense that we kick off National Ice Cream Month (which was designated by President Ronald Reagan in 1984), with a day like today. Vanilla and chocolate just aren't enough anymore, are they? Purists might disagree, but all it takes is one stroll down the frozen foods aisle to see that we are a people who have found ways to bring new life to ice cream flavors.

One of the first "creative" flavors of ice cream I ever had (that wasn't mass manufactured) was when I went to Moo Time Creamery in Coronado, California. It's one of those ice cream parlors where you choose your flavor, your mix-ins, then watch as the talented folks behind the counter mash it all together on cold marble slabs. Having never been to a place like this before (Cold Stone had yet to really explode in New England, so this was a revolutionary concept to me), I completely choked under pressure. There were all these hip, tan Southern California teens and early twenty-somethings standing in line with me, all who had their own go-to concoctions that seemed to embody their very personalities. I felt like - as an obvious tourist - that all eyes were on me when it was my turn to order. What was I? Was I cool and relaxed like chocolate ice cream mixed with chocolate peppermint patties? Or was I bubbly and vivacious like a berry flavored ice cream with crumble and more berries mixed in? Panicked I said the first things my eyes landed on: "tiramisu ice cream with marshmallows and gummy worms". Creative? Yes. Disgusting? Even more so.

I had the opportunity to redeem myself years later when I worked at a gelato company here in Maine who daily offers 30 different flavors (from a selection of over 1,000 they claim - we definitely didn't have that many when I worked there, but we did have a few hundred). They're a place that strives to make the most authentic Italian gelato while having fun doing it; as far as I know that's been their policy since they opened their doors, and they've always succeeded at it. You can see that in their culture and more specifically the flavors they come up with. Just in recent months alone they've offered options like strawberry balsamic sorbetto, pomegranate chocolate chunk, Gritty's (a brewery here in Maine) Vacationland Summer Ale sorbetto, toasted marshmallow s'more, and bourbon county brittle.

If that doesn't define today's food holiday, I don't know what does! Some of my favorite flavors throughout the year have included: dark chocolate noir sorbetto (totally vegan, and you would never know it!) and lavender vanilla (which tasted like heartache from ex-boyfriends... weird explanation, but if that emotion had a taste, it would be this).

For me, it only made sense to celebrate today by heading back to that gelateria to get a scoop of something a little non-traditional like Wild Maine Blueberry Crisp.

Now who's one of the hip, tan, cool kids?

Happy Creative Ice Cream Flavor Day!