Ice cream is something that appeals to kids everywhere, and the kids within adults jaded and unjaded too. However, the one distinct flavour I get across most ice cream parlours is that of ennui. There’s the same formula being copy pasted and applied across the board in a manner that reminds me of, well, me, taking notes from others during college exams. Because that’s just how I roll.
With the exception of a precious few, ice cream has settled into a monotonous groove in Mumbai with few innovating and trying to break the mould, in a manner of speaking. I’m not sure anyone really wants to break any moulds. Of late, a new trend has been popping it’s head up across the city; liquid nitrogen, a name that can only remind me of the T1000 from Terminator 2, which isn’t always a good thing.
I get that there’s a lot of showmanship and chemical wizardry underlying the whole liquid nitrogen ice cream business, but once the smoke clears out, one thing becomes amply clear. Most of the flavours on offer are rather staid and in some ways even derivative, with the whole show and tell of liquid nitrogen not adding much to anything other than the price tag.
Salvation, however, might be close at hand thanks to papacream. My reaction to reading of the impending launch of yet another liquid nitrogen based ice cream parlour was to yawn, figuratively speaking. And yet, to slake my curiosity, I dug deeper.
They have savory ice creams. Hmm. Interesting.
They have a sushi ice cream? Not bad, but not moved either.
They have a paani puri sorbet and an ice cream interpretation of nachos? Now we’re talking!
Papacream, at the very least, had my attention, however fleetingly, because SQUIRREL!!
Like I was saying before the squirrel so rudely interrupted me, Papacream had my attention and I was keen to see if they could bring have me crooning “Ice, Ice, Baby” in between spoonfuls of their sorbets and ice creams. And so I landed up on the doors of this very new parlour while yelling “Come to papa, my savoury ice creams!” #NotReally.
Of the 4 flavours I tried, the savoury ones most hit the spot. The paani puri sorbet, which comes along puris reimagined as tarts and laden with barely there potato mousse, really tied the whole dessert together. Just that tartlet and potato by itself was a mouthful of meh; add a generous dollop of the piquantly spicy and sour sorbet and you have a high street reimagining of the humble pani puri. I could have had the zingy sorbet by itself, for I lost interest in the entire shindig once the sorbet was done with, much like I used to be done with watching team India play once Sachin and Sehwag were dismissed.
The Orange Basil Sorbet was another mild win, reminding me of summer in a scoop. I’m not much of a herbivore, which is to say I’m not too fussed about my herbs, and certainly not when it comes to desserts. However, the injection of basil really rounds out the fresh citrusy notes of this sorbet and you could even swap out the basil for mint and I’d love it just as much, although the basil serves up just the right amount of Lex Luthor to the orange’s Superman. After all, Lex is never meant to overpower Supes.
The Red Velvet Cupcake and Raspberry sorbet didn’t find much love with me. Perhaps it was the creamy decadence and the almost cloyingly sweet nature of the former that saw it lose me at some point. The Raspberry sorbet, which came served with white chocolate lemon soil, seemed too artificially enhanced, which is incidentally the same reason I don’t like some women. Ice creams and women are best au naturel, really.
Ice cream doesn’t always get my tastebuds tingling, but a few of the flavours available at Papacream certainly set off a few bells in my head. Better savoury than sweet, Papacream has a few clever ideas (although I wish lemongrass was available as a flavour by itself!) that it pulls off well, and I’d love to see them add more to their repertoire. After all, a guy can dream of Churro ice cream sandwiches and Pretzels with Caramel, can’t he?