Saturday, August 8, 2009

Black Pepper Ice Cream with Lime Syrup and Cantaloupe

Whenever I eat a particularly good melon in the summertime (really, there's no point eating melon out of season), I think of my mother-in-law. She'll look up from a delicious melon and say, "You know, there's always one melon that's the best of the summer, and I declare, I think this is it."

The week before last there was a cantaloupe in my farm box, and after I took a taste, it knew that this was it. The best cantaloupe. Not just the best of 2009, it was the best of the decade, possibly the best I've ever eaten. A cantaloupe for the ages.

What to do with it? First I gave half of it away, because I didn't think I could finish it by myself. Neither my husband nor my daughter J.D.E. care much for cantaloupe.

I wanted to do this melon justice, so I consulted David Lebovitz's book The Perfect Scoop for guidance. David suggests pairing fresh cantaloupe with Lime Syrup and his Black Pepper Ice Cream. That was a very unlikely sounding combination to me, but I'd been wanting to try the black pepper ice cream, and I had a new bag of limes in the fridge so I decided to give it a shot.

n.o.e.'s notes:

- You can find the recipe for the ice cream here.

- I made the ice cream as written. Surprisingly (at least to me), the ice cream turned out a creamy tan color, but it makes sense, since the cream is infused with cracked black pepper and then the peppercorns are strained out.

- The lime syrup was easy to throw together.

- I took the picture on the complete wrong light setting, and before I checked the photos I ate the evidence (it was melting!) So please excuse the oddness of the photo.

the verdict:

The ice cream was smooth and rich, with a perfect "mouthfeel." It had a distinct flavor of black pepper and a sneaky spiciness that waits for a minute and then attacks in the back of the throat. I love spicy food, and was expecting some heat, so I liked that. The lime syrup was surprisingly good with the ice cream - it was sweet and bright and complemented the complex spiciness.

BUT, I did not love the ice cream with the cantaloupe, or the cantaloupe with the lime syrup. So I ate the ice cream with the syrup, then the melon on its own, and enjoyed both.

And with the rest of the melon? It turns out that both my husband and J.D.E. loved the Best-Cantaloupe-Of-All-Time, and we ate it twice at dinnertime, draped with prosciutto. YUM!


Mary Ann said...

What an intriguing combination. I don't think I have even noticed this ice cream in The Perfect Scoop.
I can just imagine how the best canteloupe ever tasted. We have had some really great ones lately.
I think the photo looks delicious!

mike said...

Pepper, lime, cantaloupe. Never in a million years. Leave it to David. Well, it LOOKS delicious - if not separately! Glad everyone dug into the cantaloupe at the end. I think that's the ONLY melon I like. And it sounds like you enjoyed this in stages. :) Love the color of the ice cream - it goes nicely with the melon colors and the peppercorns are the perfect touch!

Audrey said...

What a nice experience to find the melon of the eons! I'm never sure how to pick them, so it's always just a gamble for me. Fascinating combination of flavors here!

Di said...

I definitely wouldn't have thought of black pepper as an ice cream flavor before you mentioned it. Glad to hear you found the right way to enjoy the unusual combination. =)

Unknown said...

Great photo Nancy! I love the idea of the cantaloupe with the lime syrup but I never would have thought of black pepper ice cream to go along with it. Very interesting combination!

Sara said...

Very interesting, I would have never thought to put these things together. I like melon a lot but am almost always disappointed when I buy some so I rarely ever get it anymore. Now I have a craving for some good melon!

Pam said...

The lime syrup sounds amazing but I am not so sure about black pepper ice cream. Hmmm.

NKP said...

Yay for the perfect melon!
I love what you have done with it!

Anonymous said...

I've been wanting to try the black pepper ice cream. Can't wait to try it now.

You should make the cantaloupe sorbet out of the book. It's outstanding!

Tom said...

We got a fantastic melon this year, and we took half and made a fantastic Sicilian cantelope jam. I'd never had it, but let me telly you, it will be a yearly prodct of the kitchen from now on!

emiglia said...

I was sorry to see that you didn't care much for this combo, because when I first saw it I thought "Finally! Something different." Oh well... I guess I'll try the ice cream on its own, which is something different in and of itself.