Ice Cream Circa the 80s
July 10, 2011 § 2 Comments
Ask almost anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I have a major sweet tooth…or perhaps several sweet teeth. In either case this tooth (or teeth) takes a particular liking to ice cream and has since I can remember going to Baskin Robbins as a kid, ordering Word Class Chocolate (I still hold this to be one of their finest flavors) in a sugar cone and, much to my mother’s dismay, insisting on biting off the tip of the cone to let the ice cream melt and funnel down through it and, of course, all over me in the process.
I attribute this to my father who was once mistaken for a Ben & Jerry’s stock boy by a fellow customer one time at Kroger when searching for his favorite flavor (I believe he was wearing a Ben & Jerry’s t-shirt and Birkenstocks at the time, so the assumption was a fair one). As further evidence, while visiting me once at Davidson, we stopped in the Main Street location to see what new flavors they were serving. My dad had his heart set one a specific flavor he obviously researched online, but much to his dismay, that specific store wasn’t serving it at the time. He settled on a runner up, and I assumed we would adopt a “maybe next time” mentality and go on with our day. No such luck. After eating his first scoop, we drove approximately 10 minutes to the Lake Norman location where he found the elusive flavor and proceeded to eat a scoop there too. More stories like this exist, but I think this paints an accurate picture of the genes that were passed down.
For an ice cream lover, New York City is an exciting but dangerous place. My latest find, the pistachio cherry gelato at Epicerie Boulud is a current favorite, but I am already anxious to try Steve’s Ice Cream which recently opened a few blocks from my office in midtown, the ice cream sandwiches from the Coolhaus truck which often stations itself a block away to taunt me, and of the course, the brick and mortar Big Gay Ice Cream store once it opens in the East Village.
So it should come as no surprise that one of what I consider to be the best features of our new apartment is something we weren’t aware of until after we signed the lease. We are renting this apartment from the owner, who, as it turns out, must share or even rival my passion for frozen sweet concoctions. While doing a walkthrough/introduction with her just before moving in, we were scanning the kitchen cabinets to make sure they were all emptied. Above the fridge, Rupert noticed something tucked in the back and inquired. “Oh, that ice cream maker stays if it’s okay with you. It’s just too heavy to move and it fits perfectly up there”, she explained. Okay with me? Um, yes, that will be just fine. But it wasn’t until yesterday that I had time to climb up the step stool and put it to use.
Now, despite my high ice cream standards, I’ve never had a complaint with the $40 frozen canister variety of machines. Sure waiting for the canister to freeze requires some advance planning from the time you would like to be eating ice cream, but it is usually worth the wait. For true connoisseurs, I suppose this is just not acceptable. Enter the Simac Gelataio Super.
Now I had quite a time tracking down any sort of instructions or even information about this specific Super model, but I did learn that the machine was manufactured by Simac, a company in New Jersey, which to the best of my knowledge no loger produces them. I saw a few similar models on Ebay that gave me the impression that this is a serious investment in one’s ice cream happiness. After reading some comment boards here and there, I found an owner’s manual for another model and went with it. l. I particularly like the introduction:
Beautiful fresh desserts with no guilt?! What could be better? I was sold. Luckily the machine IS easy to operate – basically you just flip the chill and churn switches, insert earplugs – this guy is NOISY) let it run for about 45 minutes. Voila – perfectly frozen ice cream. The earplug part was learned by experience, and we will be investing in some soon.
For my first attempt, I stuck with a tried and true gelato base recipe from the Ciao Bella cookbook, reduced the sugar to half a cup and added about 6 oz of white chocolate I melted as I was when heating the milk and cream. White Chocolate ice cream was a special request and all time favorite of Rupert’s. I’ve only ever seen it on the menu at Balthazar, so I have little to compare to, but the resident expert said it definitely met his standards. Now, I feel the possibilities are endless. And I’ve already started scanning my cookbooks for my next inspiration. Right now one from Thomas Keller’s ad hoc cookbook will probably be up next.
To close, my research also turned up this print ad from 1982 for sale on ebay, that I feel succinctly captures the goal of any ice cream making attempt with all the glamor of 80s food styling.