Thursday, July 23, 2015

When I moved to France and
finally had my own freezer to fill, I was surprised to discover that French
store-bought ice cream is terrible. The only brands that don't consist of
air, seaweed-based stabilizers, and artificial everything, are Haagen-Dazs and
Ben & Jerry's—both of which cost considerably more here than they
would back home. The reason? "Artisanal ice cream" really means
something here. The best producers are too small-batch to work in a national
distribution system like France's, and given the high price of everything,
especially labor, the product ends up being too expensive to justify the space
on supermarket shelves. In Paris, if you want good ice cream, you have to
track down a shop with the words "glacier artisanal" somewhere on its
signage. There are many outstanding, old-school examples, like the
justifiably famous Berthillon on the Ile Saint-Louis, where seasonal sorbets
like sour cherry and apricot are genuine flavor bombs. There's the classic:
Raimo. Though it was recently sold and, in a distribution push, started using
stabilizers to improve consistency and shelf life, its flavors—especially
the almond and orgeat, or orange water—are fantastically rich. Then
there's Glaces Glazed (pictured), dangerously close to my home on the rue
des Martyrs, which has a completely different approach. "My ambition was to
kick convention in the ass," said Henri Guittet, its 30-something founder,
one recent summer afternoon. In front of us was a row of ice cream flavors
that included pistachio and black sesame paste, which pushes the umami point
almost into savory; bracing mango and red pepper sorbet; vanilla bean
sprinkled with a few roasted hemp seeds for nuttiness and crunch, and a tangy
goat's milk-based salted caramel. "I don't like the way too much sugar
dries out my palate," Guittet continued. "It's more about a complexity
and a long finish. " Glaces Glazed eschews anything artificial, including
the dreaded stabilizers. This makes certain denser flavors, or those with
lower freezing points—like dark chocolate with wasabi and ginger—hell to
scoop for staff during the dreaded school's out, 4:30 p. m. snack-hour
rush. The compensation? They get to sample the product all day long. When
Guittet isn't cooking up new recipes, he's sampling the competition. Two
other Paris ice cream outlets he recommends are GROM, the Turin-based gelato
chain with a heavily trafficked outpost on the rue de Seine in
Saint-Germain-des-Près, and Une Glace à Paris, "for their smoked vanilla,
and farmer's cheese sorbet. " Alexandra Marshall is a contributing
editor and the Paris correspondent at Travel & Leisure. Food, design,
architecture and fashion are her specialties, which means, living in Paris,
that she is very busy. Follow her on Twitter and on Instagram. More good
reads from T+L:
• 15 NYC Ice Cream Shops Turning Out Interesting Flavors
• 25 Secret European Villages
• Best Places to Travel in 2015 Did you enjoy
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to Honor Baha Mar's Bankruptcy Request In Paris, if you want good ice
cream, you have to track down a shop with the words "glacier artisanal" on
it somewhere. Here, our picks of the best artisanal ice cream stores in
Paris.

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