Ruth writes: If you haven’t noticed already, exotic flavours of ice cream have come to Toronto. One place to look for the likes of passion fruit, soursop, and guava is at ethnic festivals.
Last month at the Hispanic San Lorenzo Festival at Christie Pits Park, I found a truck selling these as well as lulo, marañón and dulce de leche. I didn’t know that marañón is the Mexican fruit out of which cashew “nuts” grow. Dulce de leche is sweetened condensed milk. Lulo or “little orange” is a fruit with a citrus flavor that is popular in Colombia.
At Iranian festivals, I look for falouda or falooda which is made of saffron, sugar, condensed milk, ice cream and rose water. It is frequently served over a bed of glass noodles. It can be served without the vermicelli and is delicious. At South Asian festivals like the TD Festival of South Asia in Little India coming up in August, I’ve often found kulfi – cardamon, sugar, saffron, and sweetened condensed milk. You can also look for kulfi falouda with noodles. Condiments like rose syrup and pistachio nuts can be added.
At the Halal Festival, I found Desi’s Choice advertising Kulfi. Besides pistachio, almond and mango flavours, there was malai, khoya, and of course falooda. Malai is kulfi with almond and pistachio. Desi’s Choice produces kulfi in tubes. I found some at the BJ Supermarket in Little India.
You can find these exotic flavours in ethnic supermarkets. My friend Anne still goes ecstatic when she talks about the home-made black sesame ice cream to die for in J-Town. It was painful for her when the woman who made it returned to Japan and obviously didn’t find anyone who was willing to continue the supply.
Anne says that the best black sesame ice cream cone that she has found now is in the Manic Coffee Shop at 426 College near Bathurst on the north side. She says in the Edo period in Japan (1603 to 1868) black teeth were a sign of high class for women. She says some Japanese people still enjoy looking like they have the painted black teeth of the upper class, as result of imbibing black sesame ice cream.
Anne also has a passion for purple yam or ube ice cream which I first encountered in the Philippines. It is produced by the popular Filipino brand Magnolia. Magnolia also has Thai tea, lychee, avocado and coconut ice cream. I’ve seen Magnolia’s mango ice cream in supermarkets in Toronto for years. Mango seems to be very popular here. Baskin Robbins carries it too.
I found pint containers of rose faluda kulfi and soursop ice cream made by Tropical Treats at Sobey’s on the Queensway for $5 or $6. Hime Brand black sesame ice cream with Japanese writing on the label, and Chinese red bean ice cream were there too. The kulfi didn’t have the noodles and while soursop sounds sour, it was actually sweet. The black sesame looked like asphalt, but close your eyes. It’s not bad. Many of these exotics seem sweeter than traditional ice creams and less creamy rich.
But back to ice cream at festivals. You will probably find green tea, taro, mung bean, halo halo, red bean, and mango ice cream at Chinese food festivals like TnT’s Waterfront Night Market (July 25-27); if not, I found these recently in larger than cone-size containers in TnT’s Cherry Street store nearby.
And then there’s gelato, with its origins in the Italian Renaissance. It seems to have been around here for decades in stores. I don’t remember seeing it at an Italian festival – I haven’t looked – but it’s probably available in cafes in the streets encompassed by the likes of Taste of Little Italy and Salsa on St. Clair. (July 19 & 20).
If you want to see what flavours might be available, Il Gelatiere at 647 Mount Pleasant Rd. www.ilgelatiere.ca has 150-plus rotating flavours. A list in both English and in Italian is on its web-site and you can add papaya, chestnut, fig, passion fruit and prickly pear to your “must try” list.
With the warm weather, ice cream is a nice introduction to Toronto’s other cultures.–except for durian, a very controversial taste. I don’t like it even on a hot, muggy day. Others however might want to include it as you start testing all the exotic flavours. Let me know if you like durian.
Please tell us about your ice cream or frozen dessert adventures and in which festival or restaurant you found them. Drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org