October skies bring with them great things. From the smell of smoking meat at a tailgate before a college football game, to hayrides and corn mazes and the Halloween decorating blitz, the quintessence of fall is one of my favorite times of the year.
The only unfortunate aspect of this time is the passing of the summer produce that delights our taste buds each year. Like falling leaves in early October, the watermelons and blueberries, raspberries and peaches all fall away as the temperature drops. And while I love apples and pumpkin, I take the loss of the peaches quite hard.
Earlier in the summer I took a gander at Turkey Hill’s Limited Edition Peaches and Cream ice cream and thought it was comparatively average. Since then, my prefered way of peach eating has been in a classic summer salad with basil and mozzarella, but when New Orleans Ice Cream Co. shipped a pint of their Peach Melba ice cream a few weeks ago, I knew I’d get one final chance to taste the South’s most sumptuous fruit in one of its classic forms.
I’ve never had the classic peach melba combination before, but I have enjoyed the flavors of peach and raspberry (although, it should be said, not combined in cereal form.) New Orleans Ice Cream adds toasted almonds to complete the pint, an altogether odd choice, if you ask me. I wish they would have added pound cake (more on this later.)
The first spoonful starts out on a high note. It’s a creamy and smooth ice cream base, super premium but with the kind of dairy-cream freshness and bright vanilla flavor which gives an impression of lightness. The vanilla bean flavor is far from ordinary, and I find myself admiring the slowly melting cream and vanilla bean specks on my tongue. There’s an enjoyable, almost whimsical raspberry swirl which mixes with the fresh cream taste in the kind of way that makes those miniature sundae cups all the rage at elementary school birthday parties, and comes in with enough frequency and impact to lend sweetness and a bit of textural contrast to each lick. Combined with the soft ice cream and chewy, thick peach slices, each bite tastes of the classic flavors of ambrosia. There’s no whipped cream involved, but it sure tastes like it, and given those three elements, I’m inclined to proclaim it as one of the best peach ice cream’s I’ve ever had.
However, as was the case with Mississippi Debris, this flavor goes one mix in too far. In this case I’m pointing the finger at the “toasted” almonds, which, while buttery, have an odd and flimsy chew and lack real roasted flavor. There are too many of them, and combined with the already prominent peach and raspberry swirl, they detract from the vanilla base and break up the overall creamy aspects of the ice cream. I wouldn’t go so far to say I disliked the almonds, but I certainly would have loved the Peach Melba flavor a lot more without them.
The perfect peach ice cream is restrained, simple, yet ethereal – a classic mixture of cream and juicy peaches, honoring the kind of fruit with enough complexity to make a perfect dessert in its own right. New Orleans Ice Cream Co. comes close to making the perfect peach ice cream, but comes up a little short by trying to improve on something which is, buy its nature, is perfectly and naturally delicious as God made it.
Other Reviews: The Ice Cream Informant