Sunday, January 3, 2010

Ice cream wonderland

As New Year’s Day and the last restful weekend of the holiday season are upon us, I thought a review of ‘The Ice Cream Factory’ could be useful to those parents looking to hit the town with their little ones in tow. I had hoped to take two adorable little children with me so as to relate their verdict from the horse’s mouth, but ended up going instead with my crazy funny friend Kennie.

A very grown up affair A café and parlour dedicated almost entirely to ice cream and dessert, ‘The Ice Cream Factory’ opened up in the professional heart of Victoria Island roughly 7 months ago. My initial presumption that.

The venue was intended for toddlers and young teenagers proved to be entirely wrong when Kennie and I walked into the dimly-lit café that was thumping with British dance-floor tunes from Jamiroquai and the Artful Dodger. The room told of a chill-out café for a mature audience and was jam-packed with loudly chatting university students and married couples alike. This was no kiddie zone to say the least.

Kennie and I started with a ‘ham and cheese melt’ (N1800) from the ‘Factory Grilled Melts’ section at the very back of the menu – the only page to offer savouries like ‘the factory club’, ‘tuna melt’ and ‘cheese and mushroom’ sandwiches. Our pressed panini was simply perfect. The smoked ham and tomatoes were smothered in a luxuriously melted blend of mozzarella cheese and mayonnaise, while the accompanying chips were chunky, crisp, and as delicious as the photograph in the menu promised.

Alcohol, spice and all things nice

To complement the sandwich, I drank a ‘baileys milkshake’ (N900), initially judging it to be a richer than usual vanilla milkshake until the subtle hint of Irish liqueur arrived as an aftertaste. Kennie meanwhile sipped on a ‘chai latte’ (N800), a hot aromatic milk tea infused with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom and vanilla. And after I pressured her into giving a verdict on it, she said “it’s pretty good… very gingery… milky… tea-y” and then snapped, “it tastes like a chai latte, what more do you want me to say?” which was simply hilarious.

After a forced (albeit welcome) break, caused by the waiters’ poor preparation and inability to deal efficiently with their many patrons, we ordered a ‘butter pecan waffle’ (N1500) and a ‘cookie monster’ ice cream sundae (N1200). The waffle was not warm as promised, but was beautifully presented alongside two scoops of butter pecan ice cream, drizzled with caramel syrup and topped with freshly whipped cream. Being a huge fan of pecan nuts, I found the ice cream delicious, although Kennie thought it far too sweet. The waffle tasted unfortunately as though it had been baked with sourdough and I regretted having glanced too quickly over the ‘Artisan Selection’ with other offerings like the ‘caramel waffle dream’ (which would have been accompanied by ‘dulce de leche’ ice cream), and the ‘berry belgian waffle’ (with Madagascan vanilla and white chocolate strawberry swirl ice cream).

Chocolate concoctions and contortions

The ‘cookie monster’ sundae was a scoop each of ‘cookies n cream’ and ‘chocolate chip cookie dough’ ice cream layered with chunks of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, and drizzled with hot fudge chocolate sauce and freshly whipped cream. The large cookie chunks added a fantastic crunchy dimension to the sundae.

As luck would have it, my teeth began to cry out for mercy from the onslaught of such cold concoctions, and I found myself unable to sample anything else. Darting past the list of other sundaes like the ‘banana split’, ‘choco explosion’, and ‘coffee addiction’, I wondered if Kennie would think me mad if I suggested that we sample other hot desserts like the ‘apple crumble’, ‘sticky toffee cheesecake’, ‘strawberry crepe’ or ‘affogato’ (that alluring Italian mix of vanilla ice cream and a steaming espresso shot).

For a short while, I also toyed too with the idea of the ‘belgian hot chocolate’ (a delicious, decadent blend of triple chocolate ice cream, hot chocolate and frothy milk, topped with freshly whipped cream and Belgian chocolate shavings – N950). Then I remembered that the first time I indulged in it, it left me so incredibly bloated and saturated that I was unable to consume anything for the rest of the day, not even a glass of water! That memory proved powerful enough to inspire yet another addition to my list of New Year’s resolutions – a commitment to healthy eating. Let’s see how long that lasts.


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