Restaurants; The latest scoop

Cool restaurants are freezing their assets with a range of funky new ice-cream flavours, discovers Nikki Spencer
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The Independent Culture
At a time of year when many of us are thinking about donning our thermals, it may seem strange to be delving into the subject of ice cream. Yet the fact is that we consume more luxury tubs of the stuff at this time of year than in the summer months. Sainsbury's alone sells about half a million tubs in the last week before Christmas; and chefs at restaurants all over the country are currently coming up with more and more weird and wonderful flavours.

The trend for something more exotic than raspberry ripple started a few years ago with the arrival of Haagen Dazs and Ben & Jerry's, but their flavours look pretty tame in comparison to the cracked black-peppercorn ice cream, liquorice ice cream and Guinness ice cream currently on the menu at a number of UK restaurants.

Julien Jenkins, the head chef at Indigo (above), a restaurant in the new hotel One Aldwych, says pepper-flavoured ice cream is less unusual than it sounds. "We serve it with warmed fresh pineapple, and the combination is wonderful.

"The two go together brilliantly. In fact, if you visit some of the more traditional restaurants, you'll probably find pepper and pineapple together on the menu. We just thought we'd give it a new twist."

Someone else giving ice cream a bit of a twist is Cafe Milan on the King's Road. Not only does it offer unusual flavours (pink peppercorns, basil, rosemary, etc), but its Latin customers are inventing their own ice creams.

In this new retail outlet next door to the restaurant, plain ice cream will be mixed with whichever ingredients you choose (candied fruits, almonds, etc) on a black, frosted, marble slab.

Julien Jenkins reckons it won't long before more unusual flavours will be available in supermarkets as well. "I've had chefs who've worked for me and have now gone to companies like M&S to develop new ideas. I don't think it will be long before we find lavender or black-pepper or even rosemary ice cream on the shelves."