Sunday, June 24, 2012

à la minute liquid nitrogen ice cream

While I was suffering from the local heat wave in SoCal, the idea of ice cream just hit me. And not just for regular DQ around the block either, I was looking for something adventurous to try out, curry or garlic ice cream maybe. So, when my cousin mentioned an ice cream parlour making their ice cream with liquid nitrogen, I was all for it.

On a Monday night, I rounded up the gang and we headed to Redlands for the special treat. We pulled up to a quiet, dim-lit street, the town virtually emptied. Yet, there was one particular shop that had a large crowd spilling out and lining up down the street. This was the place we were looking for, the famous à la minute. While I couldn't believe how busy they were, judging by how in demand it was, it definitely should be worth the wait.

As the name says it, " à la minute " in French means 'made to order' which would explain why the wait seemed almost eternal. We waited in line for about 15 minutes to order, then another 20 to wait for the ice cream. The place had a dairy farm and country vibe and looked cozy, fairly small and looked even smaller crammed with bodies impatiently waiting for their ice cream. I was among the other children with their faces pressed against the glass window, peaking in the kitchen waiting for my turn. There was one cashier at the till and 2 other people hurriedly spinning the ice cream with all their might. Each small batch of ice cream is flash frozen with liquid nitrogen in a metal bowl while being churned.  Liquid nitrogen reduces the size of the ice crystals in ice cream, making it a lot smoother and creamier.  We watched in awe as mystical white steam flew everywhere, magic was happening before us. Since only small amounts of ice cream is made at a time, the waiting process seemed like forever.

It was too bad that we didn't have the options of doing 2 flavours per tub because I would've loved to try their salted caramel and strawberry with balsamic reduction. Instead, I opted for the main local ingredient, oranges. I was glad I did because the cookies and cream just wasn't as unique or special. This particular orange honey ice cream was not like any other traditional orange ice cream. It was not flavoured. Instead, it had small bits of tangy orange mixed in the vanilla ice cream. Generous amount of honey is drizzled on top so I got a real chew of both orange and honey rather than being pre-mixed. Everything was really fresh; the ice cream, the orange bits and honey. You would have to be a fan of dairy though. The ice cream was really sweet and rich. I let my dad try it and he expressed his liking for the ice cream by devouring the left of what I had. should've let me know so I'd get you your own tub :(

It also melted at accelerated speed, probably because it wasn't pre-frozen. So, for a big tub, you'd have to work on your speed rather than taking the time to indulge the flavour. For $5 for a medium tub, and half and hour wait, I'd say I'd come back only when it's not as busy and chaotic in there.

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  1. Nice blog entry about A la Minute in Redlands. I have been there before and you have captured the very essence of the place.