Saturday, June 8, 2013

Larry's Homemade Ice Cream

I just love those mornings when I wake up and realize that there are no obligations to be met today. I can do whatever I want to do, whenever I want to do it, with whomever I want to do it. There might be certain limitations, ok I give you that, but it's not like I wake up and think "Let's rob a bank!" or "I wish I could have afternoon tea with Emily Blunt!" Even though I wouldn't mind the latter, especially if she'd bring John Krasinski. 

No, I am fairly easy to please. And the last time I had one of those mornings I decided to meet up with a good friend of mine for ice cream and a movie. In order to include a little bit of movement and start burning calories, we had the ice cream while walking from Clarendon to the theater in Courthouse. Sitting in a big fat reclining leather chair for two hours after that probably didn't help. But I am a firm believer of the theory that your thoughts control what happens to you. So if I don't think about the calories, they won't affect my waistline. Right?

Either way, ice cream on a warm summer day is never a bad idea. Especially if it is Larry's homemade ice cream. This place is conveniently located a few steps away from the Clarendon metro station, opens until late at night, and interestingly also serves Turkish sweets that look mouthwatering. Furthermore, a large section of the café is dedicated to its espresso bar, but everyone who came in while we were there went straight to the ice cream counter. The one guy working behind it was kept consistently busy but never lost his calm, greeting every single customer and offering free samples to the indecisive.

While all flavors are made with 100% natural ingredients, some have very exotic names with no descriptions, which we found a little confusing. What can you expect from an ice cream called "Ecstasy" or "Viagra"? As I said, the guy (Larry? I actually don't think so because he looked like he had a Turkish or Arabic background) had his hands full and it wasn't always easy to get his attention. Nevertheless, after a brief exchange with other customers who seemed to be regulars we made our choice: A scoop each of Cleopatra, oatmeal cinnamon cookie dough, pistachio, and lavender. My friend also took two pieces of baklava to go. 

Our favorite among the flavors was probably the oatmeal cinnamon cookie dough, followed by Cleopatra. The former reminded us of the winter time, with a very strong cinnamon taste that was simply comforting and not too sweet. I immediately thought of the German word "Weihnachtsbäckerei", which means "christmas bakery" and has connotations of warmth, fragrant spices, and revisiting your childhood. This flavor might as well be called "Weihnachtsbäckerei". Nobody would be able to pronounce it, but hey, it would be memorable. The Cleopatra on the other hand tasted like a scoop of summer, with a dominant coconut aroma and hints of dates and rose water adding an Arabic touch. 

A little less exciting but all the same very flavorful was the pistachio ice cream. I'd not hesitate to order this again next time, especially since it works any time of the year. A must for pistachio fans. 
The lavender was great when I tried it in the café, and when my sense of taste had not yet been compromised. Subtle but distinct, and definitely memorable. However, the scoop was at the bottom of my cup and had partially melted and combined with the other flavors by the time I got to it. As a result, I have to admit that it was a little underwhelming. Lesson learned: Don't combine floral-based ice cream with other, stronger flavors.

Later that day I stumbled upon a Travel + Leisure article about the world's strangest ice cream flavors. According to an executive from Ben & Jerry's, lavender and rose ice cream will never make it big in the U.S., even though there is a trend towards such floral flavors in Europe. Americans generally want their ice cream to be very sweet with chunks of cookies or candy, whereas Eastern countries prefer fruits, tea, and spices.  Peanut and peanut butter flavors are surprisingly unpopular outside of the U.S. Instead, hazelnuts are a favorite ice cream ingredient in Europe. 

I guess we can consider ourselves fortunate for having places like Larry's Homemade Ice Cream that cater to all kinds of different preferences and give us the chance to sample rare, unusual flavors.

Brownie points for the Cleopatra: 2 out of 3
Brownie points for the oatmeal cinnamon cookie dough: 3 out of 3
Brownie points for the pistachio: 2 out of 3
Brownie points for the lavender: 1 out of 3

Larrys Homemade Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

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