I ate some bad ice cream last week. After taking in a show in Brooklyn, Elysha and I went to Milk, the "sister bakery" of the Momofuku restaurants.
Milk offers two kinds of soft serve ice cream. Both are designed to taste like the milk left over after you've eaten a sugary cereal, and the creators have nailed it. The ice cream tastes exactly like cereal-flavored milk.
Why anyone would want ice cream that tastes like cereal-flavored milk is beyond me. My only guess is that people born in the last twenty years were forced to eat cereals like Puffins, Kashi, and Grape Nuts as children.
They had never known the joy of a bowl of Fruity Pebbles, Frosted Flakes, or Apple Jacks.
I have eaten these sugary cereals in abundance and know the remaining milk for what it really is:
At best, a sad consolation prize to a bowl once filled with the best tasting cereals in the world.
At worst, the disgusting runoff of a once splendid breakfast. The wastewater of a breakfast that will most assuredly spike your blood sugar levels for hours.
Cereal-flavored ice cream is not good.
All that said, I would also like to push back against every person who has ever told me that a particular ice cream shop serves "the best" ice cream. Or the people who say that a particular brand of ice cream is "amazing." Or those who proselytize about the dairy farm that makes its ice cream on site or the ice cream shack on the beach that is more than worth the 45 minute drive.
I'm sorry, but if you're talking about ice cream (and you're not talking about dumbass cereal-flavored ice cream), then I don't buy it.
As "amazing" as an ice cream shop or ice cream brand may be, it's still ice cream, which is already inherently amazing. Ice cream is already one of the best foods in the world. Any improvement upon what is already gold will be marginal at best.
If you want to tell me that a particular flavor combination is fantastic, I'll listen. But if you try to tell me that one brand of chocolate ice cream is superior to another, I don't care.
It's chocolate ice cream. It's good no matter what. And I strongly suspect that most of the difference in taste that you detect is psychosomatic.
It feels good to eat ice cream made at a dairy farm.
It feels right to eat ice cream at an independently owned ice cream shack by the beach that's been in business for 50 years.
We expect the the ice cream made by two friends in Vermont or three sisters in Massachusetts or the farm that employs troubled inner city teens to taste better.
But it's ice cream. No matter where it is purchased or who is making it, it's already the nectar of the gods. Unless you were dumb enough to make it from cereal-flavored milk, you can't screw up ice cream.
Don;t get me wrong. I'll be happy to join you on your trek to the shoreline or your trip to the dairy farm because any ice cream is good ice cream, but please don't try to tell me that it's the best ice cream around. If I were to set up a blind taste test between your "amazing" soft serve chocolate and the soft serve chocolate served at Dairy Queen or Carvel or any other branded establishment, I suspect that you would be hard pressed to tell the difference.
Even if you could, the difference would be marginal, because it's ice cream. It's hard to improve on near-perfection.