When I was little, ice cream flavors were an uncompromising trio: vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
If you were lucky you got all three within a “Neapolitan” block of Wall. The Cornettos were a generation away but oh how we celebrated the arrival of the Fab in 1967!
It was my weekly treat until I ditched it for a new favorite, the Strawberry Mivvi, an innovation of icy white grime coated in sugary red glue.
However, on the flavor side, we were still in vanilla territory. And, with the extremely hot weather this month, I’d be yawning in boredom after a day or two of these 50-year-old offerings if I hadn’t visited an extraordinary London ice cream parlor.
The soy sauce ice cream (left) was deliciously more indulgent. Right: Worcestershire sauce is another of the wackiest ice cream flavors sold by Anya Hindmarch’s London shop.
Opened as a pop-up by playful and inventive handbag designer Anya Hindmarch, I can only describe the flavors on sale at The Ice Cream Project as familiarly unfamiliar.
Each was made with food brands that can be found in every pantry across the country.
Yes, get ready for Heinz Tomato Ketchup Ice Cream and another made with PG Tips. Then there’s also Mayonnaise Flavor, Lea & Perrins, HP Sauce, Kikkoman Soy Sauce, Baked Beans and Cream of Salad (both Heinz).
The list of ‘sweet icons’ includes Kellogg’s Coco Pops and Frosties, Lyle’s Golden Syrup, Bird’s Custard and Polo – a mint sherbet with ‘crushed’ Polo mints.
The wait to enter Anya Hindmarch’s trendy ice cream shop lasts over an hour (file image)
I say. As much as I love creativity and innovation in food, I dread the next “twist” that draws attention to a classic. And while we’ve all welcomed new flavors like salted caramel, the Ice Cream Project menu should be a step too far.
But here’s the shocker: HP Sauce ice cream is absolutely delicious. Caramel in color, it has notes of bargain apple and caramel with a little bittersweet flavor of malt vinegar. It’s interesting in a good way — because it’s innovation that works.
Hindmarch enjoys revisiting the familiar, doing “everyday things in an extraordinary way”. His concept sounds a lot like the thinking behind Andy Warhol’s 1962 Campbell’s Soup Cans series. The pop artist also saw the beauty in modern culture and held up two fingers to snobs who said otherwise.
After the delicious surprise of the HP Sauce ice cream, I tried the rest with confidence. The Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce flavor had a tomato sorbet base and sang Bloody Mary.
Heinz Tomato Ketchup ice cream was fruity and tangy, contrary to my expectations
The Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce flavor had a tomato sorbet base and sang Bloody Mary
The Kikkoman soy sauce had a slightly meaty connotation but was deliciously more indulgent. Heinz Tomato Ketchup was fruity and tart; Particularly refreshing mint polo shirt.
As expected, Kellogg’s types of cereal were good (kids in the shop loved them) and Bird’s Custard ridiculously rich.
Of the 14 flavors, I only hated two: Heinz Baked Beans and Mayonnaise. The baked bean ice cream contained real whole baked beans (“One of your five a day!”). Biting on one almost dislodged a crown.
Meanwhile, the mayonnaise was just too offbeat, rich and tart at the same time.
Anya Hindmarch’s ice cream project was developed with Devon ice cream maker Granny Gothards.
Her salon is located with her boutiques and eponymous cafe in Pont Street, Belgravia, where she regularly hosts pop-up events. And it’s already buzzing on social media.
When I visited last week, a queue of over 50 young people was sweltering in the heat outside. Inside, two enthusiastic staff were picking mixes of flavors from jars that cost £3.50.
Ketchup flavor was not in the pair I didn’t like: Heinz baked beans and mayonnaise
All flavors are available in 500ml pots at £10. A buyer bought 18 cool jars.
Now, Hindmarch’s concept may raise some eyebrows, but you have to remember that ice cream is an ever-evolving invention.
It’s not only one of the greatest and most beloved discoveries in the world of food, it’s also one of the oldest. If you think we’ve only had electric refrigerators since 1870 and continuous automatic freezing was invented in 1926, less than 100 years ago, it’s amazing that ice cream has over 2,000 years of history. .
The first recorded sweet frozen desserts were made around 550 BC. using clean virgin snow and ice cut from the high mountains of Europe and the Middle East, transported in hay-insulated carts to cities on the plains where it was stored in similar padded coolers .
In Persia, now Iran, ice cream was mixed with fruit syrups to make sharbat, an early version of sorbet – only available to the wealthier ruling classes who could afford the ice cream.
People have been making cold treats for over 2,000 years – but this is a new twist
New versions of sweet ice cream were developed by the Greeks and Romans, including those made by mixing ice with alcohol. But it wasn’t until the 4th century that it was discovered that if you placed a bowl of cream on top of a tub of ice cream mixed with salt, it created an endothermic effect, freezing the contents of the bowl.
If you have a simple electric ice cream churn that sits in a pre-frozen tub, it’s changed very little from this old method.
The French, Italians, British and Americans marketed ice cream in stores in the 19th century, flavored with a wide selection of fruits, floral waters, coffee, nuts, candied fruit and chocolate.
Every ice cream parlor, gelateria and ice cream parlor competed to outshine the competition, sparking incredible creativity.
True, the shocking inventions of Anya Hindmarch are by no means the first.
Baked Alaska, established in 1867, has been credited to various chefs including Antoine Alciatore of New Orleans restaurant, Antoine. Cooks have found that meringue egg whites spread on an ice cream dome are a poor conductor of heat, so the pudding can be caramelized in the oven without melting the contents.
Italian futurist Filippo Tommaso Marinetti published a manifesto in the 1930s with recipes aimed at shaking up Italian culinary traditions, suggesting “simultaneous ice cream”. The resulting combination of vanilla and onion was pronounced revolting.
The Tomato Ketchup flavor is the latest innovation in a long history of wacky ice cream invention.
We witnessed the popularity of brown bread ice cream in the 1970s and black pepper ice cream in the 1990s. And who can forget Heston Blumenthal’s famous bacon and egg ice cream, served in his Fat Duck restaurant in the 2000s?
Made by boiling crispy bacon with milk, combining it with scrambled eggs, sieving it into a smooth cream and then freezing, it certainly made headlines.
It was, he said at the time, the restaurant’s “most controversial dish”. Blumenthal would also serve a version of the Twister lollipop, made with smoked salmon and avocado.
Hindmarch’s New Ice Age succeeds, not least because humor and gluttony come together in a single spoonful. But also because its innovation inspires.
After my visit to The Ice Cream Project, I concocted an ice cream “breakfast” with a scoop each of Hindmarch’s Quaker Oats, Lyle’s Golden Syrup, and PG Tips. It was, of course, Fab.