That’s it! I can’t stand it. I have to say something.
I have really wanted to like Molly Moon’s ice cream, I have! Two neighborhood shops, cheery and always piping out that dreamy ice cream cone smell onto the sidewalks. Local ingredients, compostable materials, and the gusto to keep gourmandian flavors (like balsamic strawberry) on the regular list. This is the kind of establishment I drool over.
But I have finally had to admit to myself a sad truth: I just don’t like their ice cream. Flavors that push the limits are what I live for, but they can go too far.
A couple weeks ago, I had some extra time in Capitol Hill, so I got a kids scoop of their Vivace coffee flavor (I have finally learned that the kid size is not only allowed for adults but a good idea, since their “one scoop” is a whopping pile’o'ice cream that even I feel overwhelmed by). I enjoyed the familiar Seattle coffee taste as I walked down tenth ave. But as I continued working my way through the scoop, I found myself chewing. Chewing? Their coffee ice cream has coffee grounds not flavoring it, but in it. I understand the idea of getting your ingredients straight into the food, and at first, I tried to like it. But it really doesn’t make sense here. Ice cream is for licking and slipping down the throat. This felt like my scoop had fallen into the sand and, like a sweet-toothed five year old, I’d picked it up and put it back on my cone. Or, like a coffee that hasn’t been filtered correctly, with the sludge in the bottom, now in my ice cream? Blekh!
And yet, I forgave, I forgot.
Today, on a little jaunt through Wallingford, it was down right hot out and I thought I’d spring for some gourmet ice cream to celebrate the weather. I entered the hopping little shop (indie music blaring in a cheerful sort of way) and surveyed the chalkboard. Some familiar, some new, I asked to sample the carrot cake flavor, then the “scout” mint (scout being short for girl scout). The carrot cake was fine, but a little chewy. The mint was not what I was hoping for–I thought they might have used real mint leaves (like my favorite Theo truffle), but instead they chose an extract. All fine and good, just personal preference. So I went ahead with salted caramel, a flavor I had tried before and remembered being a little too salty, but I figured if it was still on the menu, they might have futzed with it a bit, and it was worth a second try. More than anything, I just craved that sweet salty mix of caramel.
But as I dug in, I quickly realized my mistake. The salt was outrageous! Far from the subtle salt that accents a sweet, creamy caramel truffle, this was closer to a horse’s salt lick or a mouth full of ocean water. It seemed they’d made it saltier than the last time! I found myself battling each bite to try to hang onto the little sweetness that had a chance to shine through. Not one to give up easily on an expensive bit of dessert, I persisted, but found myself wincing.
I never throw away dessert. I wished I had someone to pawn it off on. I glanced at the little girl with her parents, wishing I could give it to them. Well, I thought, at least this one will get composted!
The human tongue has its limits. And today, mine curled at the sides in a plea for mercy. Excellent food experiences rely as much on novelty as on subtlety and familiarity. Finding this balance is, I think, what all good art strives for.
I’m officially on a hunt for the perfect (salted) caramel ice cream. Suggestions?