The 100-year celebration of Igor Stravinsky's trailblazing symphony, The Rite Of Spring doesn't exactly bring to mind ice cream. That is unless your name is Jeni Britton Bauer. For the award-winning cookbook author and owner of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, the anniversary inspired a new Absinthe flavor.
This will be Britton Bauer's third time at the South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and once again a truck will haul the frozen treats from her hometown in Ohio, to Florida. As host of this evening's A Splendid Ice Cream and Dessert Party, she's setting up Sundae station to rival all others.
Though Absinthe didn't make the cut, Britton Bauer's bringing biodynamic frozen yogurt, and several single-note ice creams (think: double toasted coconut). The myriad accouterments include homemade sauces, tropical fruit salsas, and gravels - a type of crumble.
The ice queen took time out of her hectic to schedule to chat with Short Order about burning sugar, pairing sweets with wine, and her kids' favorite dessert.
New Times: The event is on the rooftop of the Gale South Beach hotel, what kind of atmosphere are you anticipating?
Jeni Britton Bauer: I think it will be energetic and fun. There will be lots of good music and cocktails. Ice cream is fun and cocktails are obviously fun.
Will the ice cream Sundae station be self-serve?
No, we'll be there to guide everyone. But you can have as much as you want and you can come back for seconds and try things.
Have you previously worked with any of the talents who will be joining you at the Dessert Party?
No, I've never met any of these chefs and chocolate and cookie geniuses, so I'm very excited. Basically, you'll come in and eat as many sweets as your brain and body can handle. I think it will be kind of like a free for all, but in a good way.
You're also hosting the Lifestyle Seminar: Sparkling Sweets with sommelier Mark Oldman Sunday afternoon, what can we expect at that event?
We're making five different terrines, which are layered, sliceable ice cream bricks to go with five different wines. We gave the sommelier some ideas and sent him a bunch of samples and then he narrowed it down. It's really neat how they really go with the wine.
Say someone's never had your ice cream, what flavor would you recommend they try first?
That's tough. Salty caramel was the one that put us on the map and that's the one I've been making since 1996 - long before anyone else was doing it in America. Burning sugar is a really specific craft. It's very dangerous so if you get a drop of it on you it will burn your skin right down to the bone. That's why most companies don't do it, and even if they do it, it's hard to get it at the exact right place. But you can't make caramel with flavoring because flavoring tastes flat, like a gas station latte. Caramel is ubiquitous these days, but ours is really special. Mine is a little more salted which originated as a mistake.
How important is Ohio to the making of your frozen treats?
We have tons of grass-pastured cows and I think Ohio dairy can't be beat. And being in Columbus, we're within a day's drive of 50 percent of the population of North America, so we can deliver it really fast which is important.
We also have tons of ingredients grown within 100 miles of our kitchen. It's also easier to have a business here because we have amazing mentors and great logistics. I didn't know any of that when I went into ice cream, it just happened to be the case. We owe a lot of our success to being here.
You have two young children, is ice cream their favorite dessert?
Ice cream is by far their favorite dessert. They're not allowed to eat it all the time just like other kids, only if it's a special day. Some Sundays we'll go get ice cream with the family and we'll wait in line just like everyone else; it's a whole experience.
Do you have any favorite Miami restaurants and/or spots you like to visit while in town?
Yardbird is awesome. All of the restaurants I've tried were pretty great. I used to live in Miami for a while in the mid '90s, so I love coming back and wandering around.
A Splendid Ice Cream and Dessert Party hosted by Jeni Britton Bauer and Friends. Friday, February 21, at Gale South Beach Rooftop, 1690 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tickets $95.
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Bank of America Lifestyle Seminar Sparkling Sweets: An Ice Cream and Champagne Pairing Seminar Hosted by Jeni Britton Bauer and Mark Oldman. Sunday, February 23, at Ritz Carlton South Beach, 1 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach. 1 to 2 p.m. Tickets $85
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