Have you eaten Filipino style ice cream? If not, you are missing out on some of the best tasting and most interesting ice cream available to us, right here in the Bay Area!
When we lived in San Francisco years ago, Mitchell’s Ice Cream on San Jose Avenue (at Guererro and the corner of 29th Street) was the “go to” place for tropical ice cream.
These days, it is still the “go to” tropical ice cream place in SF. It is quite unusual to see a business with over 1000 Yelp reviews, let alone one with over 2,000 reviews. As of this post date, Mitchell’s Ice Cream has 2,230 reviews (“in English” out of a total of 2,235 reviews). And they rate consistently 4.5 out of 5 Yelp stars! Their tropical ice cream menu consist of:
- Buko (baby coconut)
- Coconut Pineapple
- Ginger (available November through February only)
- Green Tea
- Halo-Halo (buko, langka, ube, pineapple, mongo & sweet beans)
- Langka (also known as jackfruit, a relative of the fig)
- Lucuma (a tropical fruit native to Peru)
- Macapuno (sweet coconut)
- Tropical Four (banana, guava, mango & pineapple)
- Ube (purple yam)
They note on their website that the most of the fruit imported for their tropical ice cream line is from the Philippines.
My grandsons like the purple, Filipino ube (pronounced “ou-beh”) — the purple yam ice cream, as well as the coconut or macapuno flavors, made from sweetened young coconut meat.
And my favorite? It is the uniquely Filipino, ice cream combination of corn and cheese! Yes indeed, corn and cheese was my favorite as a little kid, and it still is among my favorite ice cream concoctions now that I am a Lola (grandmother) of two beautiful boys.
I don’t see my favorite Filipino ice cream flavor on Mitchell’s current menu. However, it is easy enough to find at most Asian/Filipino stores.
A popular Filipino brand is “Magnolia” by Ramar Foods. Magnolia brand ice cream is made here in the U.S, at Ramar’s Pittsburg, California headquarters. Magnolia’s ice cream fruits are also sourced from the Philippines, for the most authentic flavors.
I know it sounds weird — well perhaps not so weird if you are of a Filipino background — but corn and cheese ice cream is really tasty.
The corn pieces give the creamy ice cream added unique texture and flavors, and along with the combination of slightly tart, orange-colored cheese bits…well, you will just have to trust me and try it.
But, I do understand if that sounds truly too strange for you to venture into the land of tropical ice cream. So instead, you might just try:
- Avocado ice cream — avocados have long been eaten as a “sweet” in the Philippines, as in avocado icicles, or ice pops, or the iced-avocado, sugar and milk snacks of our childhood. And now, I am seeing avocado cheesecake recipes in magazines! So finally, it seems…..Americans are trying avocado beyond its role as a vegetable, in guacamole or as ingredients for a salad and sandwich.
- The mango, jackfruit or coconut flavors (like buko or macapuno)
- The delicious ube — or purple yam. Thanks to this purple yam, you will see a good share of Filipino snack foods in shades of purple . Ube is used not only in ice cream, but also sold as a preserve (nothing like purple yam jams!) and stuffed in breads and added to many Filipino rice-based desserts.
- And if you can’t decide and want to be adventurous, try the “halo-halo” ice cream, which translates to “mix-mix” or “to mix”, and where many ingredients are thrown in the ice cream mix (again, see prior post on halo-halo).
Growing up in the Philippines, I remember buying ice cream from the sorbetes man, scooped fresh, from his colorful push cart.
Jingling bells signaled the arrival of the sorbetes man on our street, and we would pop outside to let him know we would like to buy, and dash back inside to get our money, and favorite drinking glass, bowl, or cup, to contain the ice cream.
I can’t remember if there were even ice cream “cones” sold by sorbetes man back then, only that we would buy whatever scoop quantity we wanted and he would scoop it directly into our chosen containers.
Back inside and spoon in hand, we worked fast to eat our quickly melting ice cream. Fresh ice cream from your favorite mamang sorbetero — the ice cream man — has to be one of the best snacks to eat on a warm, Philippine afternoon.
We did not know it, but back then, this was a very “green” method of getting a snack or treat, no waste of plastic packaging or paper trash to deal with.
Hmmm…I do wonder….can one still buy ice cream this way in the Philippines?