It's the height of summer, and publishers seem to know that we are always tempted by new frozen churnings like those in Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book, written by shop owners Jake Godby and Sean Vahey with writer Paolo Lucchesi.
Forewarning: This is not a general reference book (for that, we still turn to Bruce Weinstein's The Ultimate Ice Cream Book). Nor does it offer a groundbreaking technique, as was revealed in Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home.
Instead, if you've been to the Humphry Slocombe shop in San Francisco, you won't be surprised to find recipes for outside-the-box flavors like “secret breakfast” (bourbon and corn flakes), Harvey Milk and honey (with toasted graham crackers), butter-beer (butter, molasses, oatmeal stout), and a particularly witty rendition, “government cheese” (Mimolette, sour cream, cinnamon, cayenne).
Not the type to churn out the Red Hot-banana ice cream (p. 59)? No matter, as this is one of the best ice cream books we've seen in years for afternoon entertainment reasons: It's an ice cream book that actually has a distinct voice.
In the Introduction to the Harvey Milk and honey ice cream recipe, for instance, we get this great little nugget: “We would explain who Harvey Milk was, but if you don't know, then please close this book and kindly return it.”
From there, it's hardly a shocker that Godby and Vahey feel compelled to offer up Twitterverse warnings based on personal experience (“Social media is your frenemy”). Twitter was key for publicizing their new little shop — they credit David Lebovitz retweeting one of their acerbic tweets for catapulting their business — but also the source, as is the book, of plenty of cursing.
“Clearly those emails were not intended for us,” they say in the Introduction after receiving a slew of emails and Tweets from animal-rights activists, many including graphic images of disemboweled animals with words like “Murderer!” pasted across them. “Hell-o-o, ice-cream-making cat lovers here!” [They occasionally served foie gras ice cream.]
The recipes? If you are wondering how exactly one becomes inspired to make “boccalone prosciutto” ice cream, per the Introduction: “It all started when our friend, Chris Cosentino — celebrated chef at nearby Incanto — showed up at our freshly opened shop and told us excitedly that he had a stockpile of prosciutto bones and asked if we would be interested in doing something with them. You can't say no to The Cosentino.”
That strawberry-candied jalapeño? They had more leftover everyday American strawberry ice cream on hand after an event than they could handle. “We only served good ol' plain Middle American strawberry ice cream once,” they say in the recipe introduction. “It was the aftermath of the epic Tranny Smackdown (see full story, p. 124). The reason we made it for that event is that we wanted an ice cream that would be as delightfully trashy as possible — and, more important, we needed one that would adequately approximate the look of smudged makeup.”
We'll save the rest of the Tranny Smackdown story for your own armchair reading enjoyment. Actually, had we turned to p. 43 before writing this review, we might have taken advantage of Godby's journalistic presumptions and left this whole “here's your damn chocolate ice cream” (p. 46) review to simply the following:
What I always tell people [re: Why I have ice cream tattoos on my arms] is that it was so difficult to get the shop open, if I got the tattoos, then there was no turning back. … The truth is, I know journalists are lazy and that it was something easy for them to write about.
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