While I make no attempt to hide my cereal and potato chip aficionado status, I do occasionally indulge in other tastes for which I claim a certain level of expertise. Organ meat and sardines aside (although never on the same plate) I do tend to enjoy a nice scoop of ice cream, especially on a sunny afternoon like the one we had here last Tuesday.
Notice how I said “scoop.” For much of my life I ate ice cream the way in which my father does. Often opening the freezer to an assortment of reduced fat and low-fat flavors (some with mix ins, others without) he’ll proceed to look at the nutrition labels. I don’t know his criteria for what is acceptable, but he’ll choose one or sometimes two and proceed to quite literally eat a good sixth of the container in a given night.
“Healthy halo”, anyone? This makes attempting to eat ice cream on a regular basis difficult, mostly on account of a dwindling supply that almost always must include some variation of Moose Tracks. I don’t dislike Moose Tracks, but the cloying sweetness and gummy texture belittles the memories of the fresh, 12% milkfat scoops of Aggie Ice Cream I once enjoyed nightly from my college dining hall. Smooth, plentiful, and coming from a smiling classmate, flavors like Maple Nut, Chocolate English Toffee, and Lemon Custard formed the triumvirat of my coming of age as an ice cream lover. And while flavors like Caramel Cashew and Aggie Bull Tracks (Peanut Butter pieces, Peanuts and marshmallow swirl) would become once a week treats, I eventually learned that nothing much beats the clean, robust flavor of a really good vanilla ice cream in moderation.
Coming by a good scoop of vanilla has been hard since graduating. Most of the stuff we keep at home is never full fat and never “just” vanilla, and despite bloggers always going crazy of Ben and Jerry’s, I refuse to support a company which supports any of this “occupy” nonsense (especially not after one recent incident). Not only that, but I want something I can realistically find for $2.50 or $3.00 on a regular basis, with decent enough nutrition to not kill Dad should he ever to come over to the “dark side” of single scoop of actual ice cream.
I decided to give Turkey Hill’s “All Natural Recipe” a try because “Vanilla Bean” seemed to indicate a level of authentic vanilla taste, but mostly because it was on sale for $2.50 at the grocery store. First thought is wow, the textural differences between scooping this and scooping a slow-churned ice cream is impressive. Right off the bat you notice that there isn’t an uncomfortable amount of air whipped into the ice cream, and it manages to come out both smoothly and easily from the container. The vanilla taste is unquestionably impressive. Vanilla “flavored” this is not. It’s the kind of taste which penetrates your taste buds on multiple levels, and holds steady the whole way through.
There’s a subtle creaminess to the ice cream, although it’s broken up and intermittent. Indeed, while the flavor is altogether outstanding, further eating reveals noticeable level of grain within the ice cream itself. Perhaps it’s because only sugar is used as a sweetener, but I find noticeable bumps and ridges forming beneath the initial layer of cream. It’s not altogether off-putting, but it does reveal limitations of a mass-market produced ice cream.
Nevertheless, the flavor of the vanilla bean outshines anything I’ve ever had, including Aggie Ice Cream. For that I have to commend Turkey Hill, and tentatively recommend the All Natural Line to anyone looking for an ice cream fix. Even, yes, in the middle of the winter.
- Price: $2.50 (On sale at Weis Markets)
- Ranking: 7/10
- Chances I’d Buy Again: 60%