Monday, March 7, 2011

Ice Cream Review: Haagen Dazs Vanilla Bean

I'm coming to think that some spices are so delectable that food companies do them an injustice by subjecting them to cheap practices, such as poor growing and bad processing, which ruins their beauty in the attempt of making it widely available to the masses. These spices has incredible potential, and yet such abuse makes them unfairly seem sub par. Case in point: vanilla. It smells wonderful and can be incredible when used properly, but poor extracts and diluted, wide-spread use makes it come off as meek and unworthy. The word vanilla even has a slang connotation that means "ordinary or conventional," which is just as bad as calling it boring and run-of-the-mill. It's virtually representative of ice cream along with chocolate, and yet it appears to be the most boring flavor. I think Haagen Dazs vanilla bean deals some well needed justice.

Hands down this has got to be some of the best ice cream I have ever eaten in my life. It's very intense, much more so than I'm used to, and brings out the full potential of the vanilla bean. I didn't get anything in way of the spiciness, but there is a sweet note of powdered sugar and salty cream throughout the entire experience, the flavors being constant. The first time I had this was right after a workout, and my brain throbbed with pleasure and I smiled inside. The mouthfeel could be improved, as while it has an acceptable melt at every bite there is a slight roughness that indicates crystals at some level.

To compare I have had Haagen Dazs regular vanilla, and I have to say it's not even worth doing a separate review for. The intensity and complexity just don't meet the standards the vanilla bean variety sets for. An extract, after all, is necessarily going to be weaker than using ground up beans since it's diluted by nature. The vanilla bean version may be slightly more expensive, but absolutely worth it. If anything, I'd say "regular" vanilla ice cream isn't worth paying any attention to given this high standard.

While I leave myself open to trying other new things, I doubt I'll let myself waste my palate on any carelessly treated vanilla products again. This ice cream makes fully real just how incredibly awesome vanilla can be, and exposes how the food culture at large needs to show some more respect. I give my fullest endorsement.

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