I have used lavender buds to infuse the flavoring tincture I use for making truffles, to spruce up milk tea, and as a surprisingly delicious substitute for black pepper for some dishes. (You grind up the dried buds in a pepper grinder and use as such.) I have also eaten lavender in fruit-and-nut mixes where it gave the snack a soothing floral aroma and a peppery kick. But in ice cream? Well…
I’ve seen a recipe for lavender ice cream in Titania Hardie’s magical cookbook A Witch in the Kitchen; well, more like for gelato as it doesn’t employ the use of an ice cream maker and has a splash of plain alcohol (vodka or eau-de-vie, in some of the variations featured) to keep ice crystals from forming. But, honestly, I’ve not – I’ve never – gotten around to actually trying the recipe.
Which was why I went and pounced when a bout of curiosity lured me into BONO Artisanal Gelato over on the second floor of SM Makati. They’re actually serving lavender (lavande) gelato.
It is most interesting, this floral spin on ice cream. The lavender buds are evenly scattered throughout the lightly sweetened cream-ice, like tiny blue speckles on the pure white expanse. The lavender flavor is quite subtle, but it lingers in your mouth well after the ice has melted and gone down your throat: somewhat nutty, lightly peppery, and floral – but not so floral as to leave a soapy aftertaste. It won’t give you a bad case of brain freeze, seeing how gelato is frozen at fifteen degrees higher than regular ice cream – plus, it has less in the way of butterfat but totally amps up the flavor.
A local brand that nevertheless uses classic Italian techniques, BONO prides itself on using fresh ingredients in season (hence no offering of fruit-based flavors when the fruits aren’t in season), maximizing the use of locally-sourced ingredients, and on making its gelati 12 – 24 hours prior to serving up the tubs at its kiosk.
It’s a touch pricey – P 138.00 per scoop – but it is, nevertheless, a good buy. (Though, admittedly, some local bloggers are griping about the price and claim that gelato is no different from commercial ice creams. Seeing how I savored this scoop slowly, I suspect that these people probably just wolfed it down, bloody culinary Philistines that they are. Tsk…)