New Zealand. Land that brought us cinematic hobbits. Gorgeous landscapes. The place where I’d like to retire to, once I make, you know, a lot more money than I have now. But there are certain things we need in any country–and one is, well, coffee. And another is ice cream.
How fortuitous then that New Zealand Natural Ice Cream shot me some samples. Granted, we have audience in the Australia/New Zealand area…but they’re also about to storm the west coast of America. Here’s what they tell us:
So they’re coming to us? Even better. So what’s the verdict?
First up, let’s start with a basic. “Vanilla Classic.” Which is good, because that new formula of vanilla never worked for me. NZN’s vanilla is that deep, rich vanilla that just begs to be thrown into a milkshake. The taste stays with you–and that’s not a bad thing, since it’s really good. The only problem is since I only have a pint of this stuff, I can’t really do the milkshake thing since it would blow through the pint–and it’s good enough where I want to savor it.
Taking a step from vanilla to chocolate, we have “Cookies & Cream,” which pairs the vanilla with “chunks of dark chocolate cookies.” The coloration of the photo on the front of the pint is a little misleading, as it would appear to be vanilla with mostly large chunks of cookie. However, prying the pint open I find that it’s a few chunks of cookie but mostly shredded up tiny bits of cookie, so much so that the vanilla ice cream is positively peppered with the stuff and has gone from white to a cookie-discolored off-white. Is this a bad thing? No, what, are you mental? Oh darn, more cookie. In fact, the rich vanilla is a bit tromped down by the chocolate cookie bits being so prevalent. Again, not a bad thing, and indeed, cookies come first when you’re talking cookies and cream flavor. So this is also quite good.
Next, we jump not just to chocolate, but “Chocolate Ecstasy.” A bold jump, my friends. This is chocolate ice cream with “a river of rich chocolate fudge.” Okay, let’s dig in. I see and taste chocolate–and it’s a worthy chocolate. But I’m not wading into any river of–ah, there it is. I’ll say this: the chocolate alone is just chocolate. There’s only so much you can do with “just chocolate,” and NZN has done it. But it’s the fudge river that kicks this up a notch. It’s not what I would call the richest fudge ever, but that’s okay…it brings the regular chocolate ice cream up one level in chocolatey goodness, and really, that’s all you want.
Next, it’s the “Mango Sorbet.” And if there was ever a doubt they were using real mangoes, check out the color in that pic there. That’s the color of the mangos I’ve seen, if not looking even better. And when you take a bite…well, it’s like somebody took a baseball bat made out of mangoes and tried to club you to death with it. But hey, it’s sorbet and fat free, so you die happy. In fact, I would go so far as to say if you dig mangoes, then this sorbet is your new best friend. Holy crap, but it is really rich. It’s just like biting into a cold bit of mango. I know I keep saying mango over and over again, but that’s the only way to describe it. If you’ve never had one, just move along. But “mango puree” is the second ingredient listed after water, so it’s clear they’ve succeeded here.
[ad#longpost]And lastly, the “Hokey Pokey.” “Crunchy butterscotch pieces hiding in creamy butterscotch flavored ice cream.” Pulling it open and then sticking in my spoon, I was immediately greeted by butterscotch spoogification. I don’t know if something happened in transit, but I get no crunch here. I instead get gooey butterscotch pockets riddling the ice cream. How is the ice cream alone? I literally cannot tell you. I kept trying to get a little spoonful of just the ice cream, only to hit another pocket of the liquefied butterscotch. From what I can gather, it’s exactly what the lid promises, but without the crunch. The ice cream bit is a subtle butterscotch flavor with the pockets of goo taking it over the edge. While rich, it’s still not brain destroyingly so. So it’s pleasant without being overwhelming. And this is the sort of flavor you’d expect to linger poorly on the tastebuds, but it’s not bad at all. The benefits of natural ingredients I’m sure.
The pints are all quite good. In fact, they’re a little insidious. Why insidious? Because they’re not too rich, any of them. (With the exception of the mango, perhaps.) It’s not like, say, a pint of Ben and Jerry’s where the thing is screaming RICH RICH RICH at you over and over again. Because these are so good and yet understated, you could literally plow through a pint if you’re not careful.
The flavors don’t really redefine ice cream as we know it. When you do vanilla, you want, you know, Vanilla. That being said, I’d like to see NZN branch off into more stuff like the mango sorbet (which was intense) and the Hokey Pokey (which was rather interesting), i.e. playing around beyond the usual ice cream staples. If you were to run across this in the freezer or even one of their scoop shops, you would do well to give them a try. And here’s hoping they move eastward soon.
For more info on NZN, check out their website here.