Not all ice cream is created equal. The first time I tasted really good ice cream was in Stuttgart, Germany. When I returned home to Ireland, the £1.99 gallon tub lurking at the bottom of the supermarket freezer just wouldn’t cut it. So I moved on up the ice cream ladder and happily spent a little more money for a lot more tastebud-tingling icy, creamy goodness. Then I tasted ice cream in Italy, and things got kind of crazy. I experimented with flavours, dabbled in gelato, flirted with sorbet, and eschewed anything with ingredients I couldn’t pronounce. I secretly saw myself as an ice cream connoisseur.
Then, last week, I experienced an ice cream awakening. I was visiting the college town of Princeton, New Jersey on one of the hottest days so far this summer. As the noon hour drew near, the sun beat down mercilessly and a friendly college student, recognizing my plight, suggested I beat a retreat indoors to try the best ice cream Princeton has to offer. How could I resist? I followed his directions to Palmer Square and found The Bent Spoon.
There was a line, but it moved quickly and soon I was inside, gazing up at the menu of hand-written signs attached to the wall above the counter.
Zucchini cake. Blueberry apricot. I was hooked. The people ahead of me moved to one side and the ice cream came into view.
The chap behind the counter grinned a tousle-haired hello, and seeing I was a new kid on the block, started offering me tastes of the flavours on offer that day. The lemon mint sorbet sparkled, the strawberry creme fraiche teased, but in the end I opted for lavender mascarpone and, at my tousle-haired friend’s suggestion, the blueberry mascarpone.
I sat down and took a tentative spoonful of the lavender mascarpone. It was delicately perfumed, subtly sweet, and of a texture words cannot do justice to. Shifting over to the blueberry, the berry flavour burst out juicy and sweet, and again, that dreamy, thick, never let go don’t let it stop texture. I was humbled. The Bent Spoon in Princeton NJ schooled me on how truly great ice cream can be. As I looked up from my ice cream, I saw a review of the shop, hanging on the wall next to me.
Yes. It was that good.