Tuesday, 21 February 2017 13:49

For the love of ice cream

Written by  Madeleine Brennan

OVER the summer, I found God.

Well, it wasn’t God exactly, but it was a religious experience of a kind that took me far away from the trials of 2016 and transported me to a happy place.

A quiet place. A place of bliss.

I discovered Maggie Beer’s Burnt Fig, Honeycomb and Caramel ice cream. If you haven’t tried it, treat yourself: it is a true brush with the divine.

As a magazine for farmers, it’s right that this modest rag should focus its attention on the quality and quantity of fresh milk produced by the thousands of farms across Australia.

But the aim of this column is also to celebrate all the delicious products made wonderous by the transformative power of milk.

Global export markets reduce milk to mere commodities  – whey, skim milk powder, nutritionals – and in the daily grind of milking can make it easy to forget the end game,  but let’s take the time to honor and rejoice in the dizzying heights with which this most essential of ingredients can soar.

Just think of the joy dairy farmers spread globally day in, day out.

There’s so many ways to enjoy dairy, but for me, nothing showcases the extraordinary power of the humble glass of milk when it becomes that most delicious of foods – ice cream.

Butterfat – at least 10% of it - is at the heart of any good ice cream.

There is no room for imposters. Anyone who has tried Tofutti can attest to that.

Without milk, it’s just a frozen dessert. And an unfulfilling one at that.

Is it any wonder that we learn very early on in life that ice cream is one of life’s true simple gifts?

The Mr Whippy van music is the lure, but it’s the promise of ice cream that can really motivate parent and child alike to chase that truck down the street.

Tapping into the childhood memories of comfort and joy, Australian-owned Bulla Family Dairy last year launched a range of ice creams which included the classic combinations of Cookie Crumble, Cookie’s and Cream and Fairy Bread flavour.

It’s part of the company’s ‘Unfakeable’ campaign, and it’s spot on because it’s the natural goodness of milk that gives the product it’s authentic taste. ‘Unfakeable’ is also a subtle dig at those other dairy-free imposters – almond, soy and coconut ‘milks’.

Fresh, local milk has also been at the heart of the success story that is Timboon Fine Icecream in south-west Victoria.

Since 1999, Tim Marwood and Caroline Simmons have perfected their recipes for their unique brand of gourmet ice cream.

Hard work, their rich creamy mouth feel and a willingness to keep trying new flavours (such as Apple Pie; Orange and Cardamon; Licorice) has seen the business recently grow to include a new cafe, a Sundae School (it’s a growing religion) and an expanding list of distributors.

Of course, sometimes experimenting with flavour can go a bridge too far.

I’m willing to put money on the fact the Vegemite flavoured icecream currently being served up at Heston Blumenthal’s Australian restaurant crosses that bridge and keeps running.

Give me a spoon and a serve of your bog standard vanilla ice cream any day.

On that note, I’m off to the freezer. Dairy Australia figures suggest the average Aussie eats 18kg of ice cream every year, and it would appear I’ve got some catching up to do.

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