Words and photographs by Angela Terrell Let's be honest; nobody likes getting older and having all those grown up responsibilities.
Yet last weekend I discovered one that I faced head on, excitedly attending an ice cream appreciation course where my very adult job was to taste 24 flavours of icy treats. More than just having the average lick, this was an intellectual pursuit where the experience gained by my broadening age demanded an ability to detect nuances in flavour that maybe a more youthful beginner would miss.
There definitely should be an unadulterated simplicity to ice cream, and Helados Jauja, a tiny hole in the wall ice cream shop in Carlton, manages to have this purity in their product. The ice creams are naked, devoid of the premixes often used elsewhere, yet come in an absolute plethora of tastes. Using only local ingredients (I especially liked the thought of their mint coming from pots in their garden), everything is prepared by hand, even if that means peeling quite a few difficult pineapples. There is an amazing fusion of Argentinian, Malaysian and Australian influence in the flavours, yet the traditional scooping method is definitely Patagonian. Piled high on the cone or the cup, the ice cream is served like a tall curled pyramid, workers risking wrists to make sure the lashings are always perfect.
It is difficult to be different in a world of increasing ice cream competition yet with heart and creativity Jauja’s inventions are far from usual. White peach and lemon sorbet is light, tangy and refreshing, and the olive oil with lemon zest and mixed nut totally tantalize your taste buds as flavours slowly evolve. The Argentinian influence is never far away though, and flavours such as pisco sour, dulche de leche and the antioxidant rich yerba mate provide a fascinating point of difference to the usual strawberries and cream. For those who prefer the Asian influence, Durian is kept in a separate covered container. Have a quick smell and you will understand why. For those who like to honour their Australian gastronomic heritage, there is always the lamington or Aussie pavlova!
Every month a new flavour is introduced and during my March visit Salted Chilli Lemon Pomello, with its intensity and depth of flavour, was all the rage. The aim here is to make something indulgently rich or refreshingly light and Sambayon fits the bill perfectly. The egg yolks and cream give it a luscious and creamy texture requiring it to be kept in a separate freezer to protect this integrity. Often not on show because of this, one could presume that a fresh batch is not available so be sure to ask for it.
We are part of a global village, influenced by many cuisines, and innovation is learning how to meld these flavours which Helados Jauja seems to manage perfectly. Food should be all about conviviality, epicureanism and culture. I smiled as I watched a group sitting on a curbside couch after ruminating for quite some time over flavours. They chatted together excitedly between licks, their tastes buds obviously tantalized by explosions of taste. It is so important to be a grown up and still love a good ice cream cone.