It’s been a long cold winter, there is still snow on the mountains and I am eating and blogging about what makes me happy 🙂 My new year’s resolution of living my life instead of letting life live me has, so far, been a pipe dream and I have not come anywhere near actually making it happen. However, one of my additional little resolutions, New Year’s Eve and Summer is finally here, has been well and truly ticked off the list. I am proud to say I have raced down that road and rung the bell (or at least caught up with the the guy ringing that happy bell!)
I have noticed on my travels, that the colder the climate the more readily ice cream seems to be available and the more open everyone is to eating it! I was absolutely delighted to find that when we landed in Hokkaido, the northern most island of Japan and home to the snow monkeys, they are obsessed with ice cream! YAAAYYYY!!!! I won’t bore you with details of travel and sight seeing, I will just show you and tell you about the marvellous soft serve that I ate. The island of Hokkaido is the bread basket of Japan, so cows and fruit abound. For the Japanese, soft serve is the ice cream style of choice. Smooth, refined, soft and delicate, everything that appeals to the Asian palate. I am used to the big bang, flavours of Aussie style cuisine and I swing from loving the icy, bite in the mouth, gelati, to full bodied, richly creamy, home style, custard based, ice creams. Soft serve was always the poor cousin relagated to cheap choc dips and McDonald’s 50 cent cones, with that strange milky sweetness. Well, my mind has been changed!
Our first stop, and we found a real old school favourite, Black Sesame. Black sesame, in any Asian dessert, has a slightly gritty texture and a pleasant deep bitterness that contrasts beautifully with a sweet finish. Both hot and cold desserts are made with this flavouring but ice cream is a perfect carriage. The smoothness of ice cream gives the ground sesame a soft bed to carry it and contrasting it with a plain milk is simply, genius.This is my dad in law’s hand…of course, he loves it!
Next ice cream stop, Hakodate tower. Hakodate, is the Southernmost fishing village on Hokkaido. Home to the
3rd most spectacular night view on earth, as our tour guide tells us! I can vouch that the view was spectacular and that it was absolutely freezing too boot! Obviously didn’t stop us from eating more ice cream. This beautifully soft, and delicately flavoured Cherry blossom ice cream was what a lot of us imagine Japan to embody, all piled high on a crisp, wafer cone. Over 1000 cherry blossom trees are planted here, however, I missed out on that view by just a few weeks. Plenty of snow, just no cherry blossoms:(
And, this is where it starts getting weird. The Japanese seem so nice, so normal and then you dig a bit deeper and things start to get just a little strange! So, guess who went straight to the counter to order what no other adult, no matter how much they thought of themselves as gourmands, could bring themselves to do? Yes, my son ordered squid ink ice cream and ate the whole thing. Of course I had a taste, it tasted like, squid ink. Bitter. Bitter without the subtlety of black sesame and because it is such a novely, unfortunately not made with as much finesse. Icy and probably needing seasoning, I would even go as far as adding sea salt and herbs. I think we might be on to something Heston Blumenthal!!
Did I say I love the big bang flavours we get in Australia? Did I say I love
rock melon gelati? Actually, I didn’t, but I couldn’t get enough of this magnificent Yubari flavoured soft serve. It was larger and fancier than any of our previouis ice creams and the flavour made me question my allegiances, aaaaaaaaaaah. Yubari is the Japanese take on rock melon, make it more amazingly perfect and packed full of flavour than any other rock melon on earth and these babies can sell for a record, 2.5 million yen for a pair! (That is a measly AUD 25,000 for 2. Don’t forget to bring a couple over for my get together next week!)
Next stop, Camembert ice cream. Of course. How does that not make sense? It makes so much sense that it is inspiration for a couple of great recipes that I am forming for the Summer holiday season. However, this little cone just didn’t have enough punch for me. A great idea, not such great flavour. Shame, shame.
Such great ice cream memories for 2012, with recipes to come! Please leave me a comment if you like my blog and don’t miss my recipe posts by subscribing or following my adventures!