Jeni Britton Bauer gave up her art studies at Ohio State University to persue her passion for food. Now, as the owner of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, she makes frozen art for your mouth. Let's taste what many consider the country's best ice cream.
Ice cream is a magical thing. For one, it's the perfect punctuation for so many occasions. It's a birthday treat. It's something new and old lovers intimately share. It's a comfort during the worst of times, and a festive cap on the best.
It can also cast Mordenkainen's Faithful Hound as a level 20 Wizard. Simply magical.
Combining ice with various flavors is a practice as old as ice itself. It was likely Arabs who first combined milk with sugar and ice to create a frozen confection not unlike the ones we enjoy today, a treat widespread throughout the Arab world as early as the 10th century. It was during that century that the first young child dropped his ice cream on the floor, crying as a happy puppy lapped it up, tail a waggin'.
The ice cream Jeni and her team create at a handful of Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams locations across Ohio, Tennessee, Illinois and soon Georgia (*dances*) is far-removed from that 10th century creation, both by time and distance. Probably flavor as well.
The author of what many consider the home ice cream bible, Jeni's makes ice cream using the best fresh, local ingredients they can get their cold little hands on. That means there are seasonal flavors, like these seen on the front of their website:
While Jeni's is available through various high-end grocery stores in my area, once again I used the fine folks at Goldbely.com to facilitate my cross-country snack-tasting crusade. First they took me to Washington D.C. for half-smokes. Now we're in Columbus, Ohio for dessert. Goldbely basically aggregates the nation's most famous foods, facilitating quick shipment to my front door. I guess they'll do yours as well. My plan is to make it through their entire catalog before I die. It's not looking good.
Of course, shipping ice cream is expensive. It requires dry ice, which is made of magic and really confuses cats when you put it in their water bowl. The four flavors I tried — Ndali Estate Vanilla Bean, Akinosie Dark Milk Chocolate, Whisky and Pecans and Goat Cheese and Cherries — runs $48. That's $12 a pint, though considering Jeni's charges $14 for the chocolate, I consider it a sale.
Was it worth it? Did you not watch the video? We went to a lot of trouble making that. We had dry ice and everything.
For those of you with a hatred of moving images and talking, here's a quick run-down.
Akinosie Dark Milk Chocolate: Oh yes.
Ndali Estate Vanilla Bean: Yum.
Whisky and Pecans: Little trouble tasting the whisky, but a fine butter-pecanish taste.
Goat Cheese and Cherries: The nicest cherry cheesecake you can imagine.
All of Jeni's flavors were indeed splendid, as advertised. Akinosie and Ndali in particular ruined me for any other chocolate or vanilla. Whisky and pecans might need a second scoop, maybe with some booze for comparison.
There are expensive ice creams in the freezer at my local grocery store, and every now and then I'll drop seven dollars on a pint — I call it a special occassion. Share some with the wife, that sort of thing. I convince myself that, because I spent $7 instead of $3, that ice cream is somehow better than the rest.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams do all the convincing on their own, and their Mordenkainen's Faithful Hound is so damn faithful.
Snacktaku is Kotaku's take on the wild and wonderful world of eating things, but not eating meals. Eating meals is for those with too much time on their hands. Past critiques can be found at the Snacktaku review archive.