Review: Jeni's seasonal ice creams

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

I sometimes wonder if most people notice how fiercely local and seasonal the premium ingredients are that go into Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. See, I think it's altogether possible that a lot of high-quality treat-seekers are simply too happy lapping up the best stuff in Columbus to pay much attention.

Well, the forward-thinking folks at Slow Food are certainly aware of Jeni Britton Bauer's commitment to the produce from local farms. That's partly why Jeni will be among 400 delegates from the U.S. invited to Slow Food's worldwide Terra Madre conference in Italy, which celebrates the sustainable food movement.

Of course, accolades like this are nothing new to Jeni's. For years, the forever-ahead-of-the-curve company has been highlighted regularly in flattering media pieces from the likes of The New York Times, Food and Wine magazine, the Food Network and so on.

That's really nice, but what really matters is that Jeni's world-class ice creams are flat-out spectacular. Naturally, the current summertime crop of seasonally changing flavors is no exception. I recently bopped around a few of Jeni's ultra-smart-looking stores (which also celebrate local farms and dairies by using reclaimed materials for design elements) to taste their current summertime batch. Here's a few notes.

Backyard Mint: If you've never tried this, you'll be surprised by the aromatic and cooling blast of peppermint that emanates from an unlikely beige-colored scoop. That's because, like me, you were raised on phony-colored and fakey-tasting spearmint-esque ice creams. This one's completely different - it's made with fresh peppermint grown by Val Jorgensen (another Terra Madre delegate) of Westerville's Jorgensen Organic Farms.

Sweet C orn & B lack R aspberries: A wild ride of Fourth-of-July-style flavors were delivered by this beauty. A bright and jammy black raspberry sauce (made with Ohio berries from Hirsch Fruit Farm in Ross County) was swirled throughout a more subtle base of Ohio sweet corn. The pairing was unusual but inspired. On Jeni's website, it's lyrically noted that "this is the taste of Ohio in the summer."

Strawberry Buttermilk: Pale pink tinted and rich tasting, this one had a kind of old-fashioned elegance. I liked how the buttermilk tang played off the mild Ohio strawberry flavor, and enjoyed the little bursts of fruity essence delivered by tiny berry seeds.

Cucumber & S ake: This super refreshing and icy, light sorbet had only a hint of sweetness as it married a real-deal cucumber flavor with the funky zing of rice wine. Call it everything but the sushi if you have to, but call on it often in this hot and sticky weather.


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