a-homemade-ice-cream

Featured in Vallarta Lifestyles Magazine, Fall/Winter 2008 issue.

While most of us have been succumbing to this sublime favorite for eons, producing ice cream at home or in small quantities has been a labor-intensive task until recently. Smaller, electric ice cream makers that rely on small canisters that can be placed in the freezer ahead of time to facilitate production have taken the place of old-fashioned hand-cranked machines that required ice chunks and salt for cooling.

At the same time, industrial ice cream makers that feature a built-in freezing element are now small enough for a handful of Puerto Vallarta restaurants to add them to their repertoire, allowing them to go beyond “standards” such as vanilla, chocolate and strawberry to take advantage of local ingredients, giving their flavors a real touch of Mexico.

And while there are a few ice cream manufacturers in town that meet the demands of most restaurants, how can one resist the allure of new, original flavors? “For us, it’s yet another opportunity to be creative on our own terms and find the ideal combinations to complement our menu,” says Carmen Porras, owner of Readers’ Choice award-winning Mexican restaurant El Arrayán. Urged by fellow restaurateur Bill Carvallo, a longtime proponent of homemade ice cream at Barcelona Tapas and Agave Grill, she acquired an ice cream maker that he was replacing for a larger model, along with a few recipes to get her started. The results have been quite favorable, El Arrayán now serving Mexican chocolate, cajeta, tamarind, corn and avocado ice cream, among other intriguing flavors.

Avocado ice cream? This may sound controversial, even unappealing, to some. But rest assured, avocado ice cream is child’s play compared to some of the unusual flavors you can encounter at the annual Ice Cream Festival in Santiago Tulyehualco, Xochimilco, one of Mexico City’s most colorful boroughs. Every March for the last 123 years, this small pueblo has been the meeting place for an increasing number of artisan ice cream producers from all over the country. Armed with wood and aluminum containers and huge amounts of ice and salt, they set out to offer the most exotic ice cream flavors you can imagine. Among them are tomato, rose petal, cheese, octopus, even pork rind, mole and Viagra! Mind you, these flavors are not supposed to turn you off — or in the case of Viagra ice cream, turn you on! The Ice Cream Festival is a unique opportunity for artisan ice cream manufacturers to showcase their inventiveness, as they strive to win Best Ice Cream each year, an award offered at the end of the festival to the ice cream with the best consistency and flavor.

All that said, what new and exotic flavors can you expect to find in Puerto Vallarta restaurants? We sent out a survey to local restaurants, hoping to find an answer for you, which we offer in the table below. Feel free to consult our Restaurant Directory on page 111 for locations. Keep in mind that you may already be familiar with some of these flavors, but the fact that they are being produced in-house virtually guarantees the freshest product, manufactured with the finest natural ingredients. And don’t forget to inquire about new flavors being added to their menus!

Restaurant • Flavors

Agave Grill • Tequila, vanilla bean, chocolate, strawberry, raspberry, jackfruit mango, cinnamon
Barcelona Tapas • Tequila, vanilla bean, chocolate, strawberry, raspberry, jackfruit mango, cinnamon
Barrio Sur • Pecan coconut, passion fruit, vanilla with peaches, soursop mango, vanilla, chocolate
El Arrayán • Mexican chocolate, organic vanilla, cajeta with Maria crackers, tamarind, passion fruit, avocado, rice pudding, corn, chamoy, mango   
Le Bistro Jazz Café • Watermelon
Si Señor • Chocolate, mint