Banning pineapple on pizza, having cartoons running on TV all day and making ice cream compulsory for dinner are some of the laws children would implement if they ruled the country according to a recent survey. I’d agree with two out of these three; my friends know me as a cheap date who will notoriously forego a dessert trolley in favour of a scoop of hazelnut/nocciola or espresso ice cream – the side effect of dating an Italian for several years when I was a regular customer of Giolitti Antica Gelateria in Rome. My taste memory was triggered recently when I sampled Scúp gelato, its nocciola the best I’ve tasted outside of Italy. Perhaps that’s because co-owner Siobhan Devereux works with an original Italian recipe, making her ice creams by hand rather than machine. Wexford-based Scúp’s bestsellers include Bronte Pistachio, Bourbon Vanilla and Wexford Strawberry, part of her range launched in Korea with online retailer Market Kurly, on a Bord Bia trademission in June. Devereux’s initial inspiration was spotting a gap in the food service industry – she supplies chefs and hotels with her bespoke offering. Her earliest ice cream memory, like most of us, is of a block of HB sliced between two wafers. Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern remembers “Our local shop did a roaring trade in [ice cream] wafers. All the time you hoped the knife would move an inch further down the block, and a bigger wafer would be served up. It didn’t happen that often. Those shopkeepers were more precise than surgeons.”
Whether we believe the notion that our love of ice cream is somehow Freudian, (Ireland is second to Sweden in its consumption) it’s a truth universally acknowledged that simply mixing cream and sugar with a flavour and putting it in the freezer will not an ice cream make.
The frozen dessert is thought to have originated in Italy in the 1600s and was made popular through the French court, provoking Voltaire to muse, “Ice-cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal.” Custard-based ice creams have a more unctuous texture than those made from pure cream, though “nice cream” is currently trending, using liquid nitrogen for instant results – a trick science teachers have presented for years at the end of term. Three Twenty Ice Cream Lab (on Dublin’s Drury Street) practises this technique: customers pick their flavour or anglaise which is mixed with liquid nitrogen and due to the freezing process (-320 degrees), the result is less crystallisation and a much creamier, denser ice cream. “We sold out the first weekend we launched due to demand,” says owner Steven Murphy. “The most popular flavours are Crème Brûlée, Chocolate Fluff and Salted Caramel Brownie.”
And what of those infamously sensual Häagen Dazs moments? Sharing a tub post-date in the 1990s implied the same coded message as “Netflix and chill”. (Who can forget the Bradley Cooper advert?) The brand has now employed Vogue and Dolce & Gabbana photographer Tom Munro for recent campaigns which appeal not only to differing cultural tastes (Asians like green tea, French prefer caramel) but also portion control. Its new commercial shows low calorie frozen yoghurts and sorbets in smaller tubs. Sounds like second helpings are not an option …
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