To my mind, Ian Carandang is the foremost artisan ice cream maker in the country.
He started his ice cream business, Sebastian’s, at roughly the same time I started Dessert Comes First. And in the six years since, I’ve chronicled his rise and contributed my input along the way. Ian is one of DCF’s most loyal, ardent fans, and I paid him homage last March when I wrote the cover story about him for F&B World magazine. He makes some of my favorite ice cream flavors and I’m proud to have him as a food purveyor at the Dessert Comes First Christmas Gift List.
Ian is serving an extra special line-up at the event: five different flavors that are a holiday mix of seasonal favorites, his most popular flavors – what he calls “my greatest hits”, this year’s shining stars, and most exciting of all, a new flavor making its debut at the event.
Queso de Bola (QDB) was released two Christmases ago and it’s something people start looking for as the holidays approach. It’s cheese ice cream lavished with shards and shreds of queso de bola, the sharp ball-cheese that no Filipino Christmas is without. Ian tells me that this is a knock-out flavor to christen the top of a hot bibingka. Putting that now on my Christmas to-eat list.
“They can’t see the blue cheese, Lori! A closer shot, please.” Here it is, Ian.
Many people consider Ian’s blue cheese ice cream, Once In A Blue Moon, his bold breakout flavor. Inspired by a savory Gorgonzola cheesecake that he saw on an episode of Top Chef, creating a savory flavor to make a dessert appealed to the artist in him. Chunks of blue cheese crumble and tumble into cheese ice cream and are anointed with Palawan honey and a smattering of roasted and chopped walnuts. This is a love-it-or-hate-it flavor (I love it) and the reception to this flavor has been nothing less than phenomenal.
You might say that Ian’s Sapin-Sapin ice cream looks like the result of a mad scientist gone wild in his lab but it’s really the proud culmination of what Ian describes as “…years of trial and error [in] trying to make a rice-based ice cream that pays tribute to kakanins, one of our few truly indigenous desserts.” Ian is fiercely nationalistic and his line of native flavors
pays tribute to that.
This motley of four flavors is made with coconut cream, pandan, langka, and ube kakanin ice creams twirled together and scattered with homemade latik, freshly-grated coconut that’s been squeezed and fried. So off-the-wall in looks and taste that Philippine Daily Inquirer columnist-chef Reggie Aspiras wrote about it in her column recently, further precipitating demand for this proud Filipino flavor.
“I should take a picture of you eating that,” Ian says, much amused. He’s watching me scoop up and spoon up my first taste of Snack Attack, a flavor that’s been flying out of the freezers this year. My eyes are closed and I’m making involuntary little sighs. Wretched excess is embodied here where everything but the kitchen sink seems to have been thrown into it, and in such a wickedly addicting way.
Vanilla ice cream, is the rather benign bed at which a series of ingredients rush headlong into and all homemade too: chocolate-covered potato chips, peanut butter-coated pretzels, and honey-roasted peanuts — a riot wrapped in a salted butter caramel swirl. Oy.
The NYC Special (also see cover photo) has the distinction of debuting at the Dessert Comes First Christmas Gift List. Ian’s paean to a similar ice cream he tried while on a trip to New York, this flavor requires faith and an adventurous spirit. Consider vanilla bean ice cream speckled with (vanilla) seeds, sprinkled with sea salt and yes, drizzled with a carefully chosen, fruity olive oil. Ian explains how all the components work. “The olive oil provides the richness in the same way a chocolate sauce would and the salt acts as a beautiful counterbalance to counteract cloy.”
Sebastian’s Ice Cream
Other posts on Sebastian’s Ice Cream:
Ian The Ice Cream Man
Chillin’ With A Chilly Burger
12 Desserts, 2 Hours, 1 Massive Sugar Rush
Sebastian’s Dive Bars
Sebastian’s Latik Ice Cream