The best of the best: vanilla, chocolate and the funky
Montreal’s ice cream scene may be at an all-time high, and credit must still go to those ice cream makers who capture the essence of a flavour in both taste and texture. The two benchmark “saveurs” for all us ice cream lovers is no doubt vanilla and chocolate, so here are my top picks for those flavours. But we should also praise innovation, so I picked my top three funky and delicious flavours as well. Best vanilla: Crème Glacée Bo-Bec This popular Plateau ice cream parlour wasn’t even on my list when I began my ice cream quest. When I saw its creamy white vanilla ice cream sans the oh-so gourmet vanilla beans, I expected something bland. And yet this ice cream is anything but. Yes, it has a fine vanilla flavour, but its super creamy texture is what really won me over. And it improves lick after lick. The second time I returned to Bo-Bec, there was no vanilla in the display case because, they told me, customers go for the fancier flavours. Thus far, vanilla has been the shop’s least popular flavour. What!? Hopefully, no longer. Best chocolate: Ripples Already well-known to the ice cream crowd, Ripples 6X ice cream is the one to beat in Montreal right now. It’s the layers of chocolate used here, the swirl of syrup added in as well as the tiny chips of chocolate that add that extra choco kick. There are loads of good, rich and decadent chocolate ice creams in Montreal right now. But this one has a strong but clean flavour, and texture that’s unctuous without being too fudgy or pudding-like. When I dream about the ultimate chocolate ice cream, this is the benchmark. Most intriguing flavours: ■ Leo le Glacier: Roasted fig with almonds: The base is vanilla and yet the mix-ins in this gelato are what make it sing. Fig is a tough flavour to capture, but when zuzzed-up with almonds, it makes quite the impression. What a treat this would be topping a slice of warm chocolate cake, or gingerbread. Yum!
■ Kem CoBa: Salted brown butter: Brown butter is a common ingredient used in savoury cooking and baking that’s beloved for its buttery and nutty flavour. When added to this ice cream mix, the results are captivating: an ice cream that tastes of salt, butter and caramel. Order a scoop if only to see how well ice cream can carry a flavour no matter how obscure.
■ Havre-aux-Glaces: Ginger: Ginger is a flavour that can be played soft or loud, and happily this one is played full blast. Deeply flavoured with fresh peppery ginger, this delectable ice cream gets its second kick from the addition of candied ginger. Can’t even imagine how good it would be atop a portion of sticky toffee pudding.