Pacific Palate: Don Genova

The sweet taste of summer means it's time for ice cream

When the temperature heats up sometimes I hear bells in my head. The bells are attached to little tricycle-style carts full of Dickie Dee ice cream.

When I was growing up, I worshipped those older kids who pedalled those carts around our subdivision.

They had the power to command us with their shiny, chiming bells and their fiberglass coolers full of decadent delights. Back then I firmly believed those vendors had the best job in the world: they could eat as much ice cream as they wanted, while we handed over our carefully cobbled-together fistfuls of change.

I’m a little more discerning with my tastes in ice cream these days. I stick to artisan-style products that actually contain cream and not modified milk products augmented by a lexicon of hard-to-pronounce artificial ingredients.

Autumn Maxwell of Cold Comfort Ice Cream in Victoria (coldcomfort.ca) makes every one of her small batches the old-fashioned way with organic cream, milk, eggs and cane sugar, and even a touch of Vancouver Island Salt, flavoured in alluring combinations with a never-ending swirl of creativity.

Autumn’s recent offerings revealed a ‘gin and tonic’ ice cream made using real gin and a locally-made tonic water along with gin-type flavourings like juniper, coriander and rose, sandwiched in a juniper macaron. Another was a Douglas Fir-scented ice cream (sounds crazy but it works) along with a grapefruit and lemon zest macaron surrounding the ice cream. They never had these flavours when I was a kid!

Some of the best ice cream (or gelato, I should say) I ever had was in Italy, and may lead to my eventual divine downfall.

My wife and I ducked out of a lengthy Easter Sunday mass in Sicily to find a gelato parlour. The melon gelato I chose tasted just like ripe, freshly sliced cantaloupe. It was a smooth and cooling bite of heaven, but I hope my love of it doesn’t lead me to hell …

Don Genova is a Vancouver Island-based award-winning freelance journalist specializing in food and travel. Find him online at dongenova.com and blog.dongenova.com/pacificpalate.

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