When I tell people I put salt and olive oil on my ice cream, they have one of two reactions:
I understand, I do. It’s hard to imagine why someone would sully a sweet, creamy treat with such wild abandon.
Until you’ve tried it, that is. Then, if you’re like me—a savory flavor lover from way back—it’s how you’ll want to eat ice cream FOREVER.
But don’t stop with olive oil and salt.
How about strawberries macerated in umami-packed balsamic vinegar? Add a bit of brown sugar to bring out the best in both.
Or a few dashes of slightly sweet—but definitely hot—sauce, like Boston’s own Alex’s Ugly Sauce?
If you’ve got a hankering for a classic chocolate topping, sprinkle a few shavings of Somerville’s Taza Chocolate over your scoops. Their Chipotle Chili or Guajillo Chili Chocolate Mexicano Discs will add just the right amount of oomph.
And if you’re a real rebel, try a nod to my husband’s habit of dipping his fries in his vanilla milkshake: crumble your favorite variety of potato chip into your bowl. Cape Cod Chips’ Sweet and Spicy Jalapeño or Sea Salt and Cracked Pepper add unforgettable flavor and texture.
“But hang on, Meg,” you say, “Those are all interesting ideas, but it’s November. Why are you talking about ice cream right now?”
Well, you might not want to hang out at your local ice cream stand with a cone in hand when a parka feels more appropriate than a sundress, but a bowl of ice cream in the comfort of your cozy home is just as good right now as it ever was.
Ice cream also makes for a perfect finish for a rich autumnal or winter menu, when you’ve taken a journey through all the roasty, toasty flavors of the season. Armed with a quirky bit of sauce or spice, ice cream is a little less “I’m going to need some elastic-waist pants, pronto” than a giant slice of pie or a big helping of bubbling hot fruit crumble.
You could even serve a bit of frosty goodness as a cocktail party snack: put a scoop or two in a pretty glass, and let your guests go wild with a bar of unusual accoutrements.
If you’re still squinting at me with skepticism, just remember how weird salted caramel seemed just a few years ago… and it’s everywhere now. They even have salted caramel chewing gum!
Try it tonight, and I promise you’ll be a convert. And by the time next summer rolls around, you might just find yourself heading off to your favorite ice cream stand with a salt shaker stashed in your pocket.