Today marks the official start of National Ice Cream Month (thank you, President Reagan, for acknowledging this frozen treat deserves not just a day, but four weeks' worth of celebration), and the folks at La Marea gave us the chance to sample not one, not two, but more than two dozen test flavors. There weren't too many misses. Executive chef Gonzalo Rivera seriously knows his way around a kitchen.
We slurped our way through everything from the curious Mexican vanilla to a chunky white chocolate bread pudding and even a fiery chocolate jalapeño. But when we got to the basil ice cream, which ice cream sommelier Katherine Montero topped with tomato marmalade (more about her in a minute), it hit us like a bolt from the heavens: "By George! If we throw a little cheese on this baby, we've got ourselves a pizza!"
It's not for the weak of palate, nor the traditionalist, but if you fancy yourself the experimental type, give it a go.
Combinations like the aforementioned are the result of an intense brainstorming session Rivera and Montero had awhile back. Once the ever-inspired chef and his beautiful biologist/bartender partner began throwing down ideas like maple syrup ice cream with a bacon scooper, mango mimosa, fig with goat cheese, and ginger cream, there was no turning back. Soon they decided to offer guests regularly rotating frozen options via a tableside trolley along with toppings like strawberries in balsamic, almonds surrounded with chocolate, rainbow sprinkles, raspberry dust, and spiced peanuts. And the price is right, starting at $3 a scoop with toppings included.
Rumor has it that some local and visiting chefs who specialize in molecular gastronomy and sous vide might be showing their mad skills here and there throughout the month, too, so count on Short Order to let you know who and when.
"We're also talking about the possibility of incorporating pies in our ice cream," Montero claimed.
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"A lot of people love pies, especially sweet potato pie, apple pie, cherry pie... And I love sorbets. I try to stay away from the milk. So for those people who are lactose intolerant, perhaps we can use Lactaid or almond milk without compromising the flavor." Ever the accommodating experimenters.
Guests at La Marea can enjoy the icy confections seven days a week during lunch and dinner, but they get Montero's expert pairing opinions only if they partake in dinner Thursdays through Sundays in July. Just tell her what you had for dinner and she'll make a suggestion as to the final course. (She might also suggest you accessorize your dessert with Cointreau, Tattinger, or Remy Martin, so prep your wallet and your palate.)
As for us, well, we'll be back to see which varieties made the final cut. We're mostly just curious to try another slice, uh scoop, of frozen pizza.