Friday, April 17, 2009

Yummy, yummy, yummy! Ice Cream Tasting!!

My love affair with Haagen-Dazs ice cream goes back to the mid-1980s.

Back in those days, the only Western fast food we could find in Osaka, Japan, was McDonald's (otherwise known as Macdonarudo--many Japanese thought it was a Japanese company!), Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Shakey's Pizza. Mister Donut was another popular fast food spot--apparently it started in the U.S. although I had never encountered one--now they are almost exclusively in Japan and Asia. In Wakayama, the town I was living in during 1986 and 1987 (which Japanese call "the country"!), the only fast food type of restaurant we had was called Mos Burger! (Yes, I kid you not!)
But Namba station, which was the Osaka terminus of the train from Wakayama, had a rare treat: a Haagen-Dazs ice cream shop. (It appears that Haagen-Dazs has shops all over Japan now!) I had to go into Osaka weekly to teach a class of Japanese businessmen, and the visit to Haagen-Dazs was always a highlight of my trip! My scoop of choice? Rum raisin!

The other reason Haagen-Dazs brings up fond memories for me goes back to when Mike and I first started dating. After we first got serious (and we got serious quickly--some of you know this story), we didn't see each other for a month. His university friend was visiting him in Osaka, and she had a bit of a crush on him. He wanted to let her down gently by waiting until the end of her visit to let her know about me. So we spent the month writing romantic letters to each other. A month later, I took the train to Osaka so we could finally see each other again...and where did we meet? Haagen-Dazs, on the first floor of Namba Station! I won't go into the details of how sickeningly affectionate we were on that first reunion, shocking those poor Japanese around us (affection is not publicly shown in Japan, except by careless foreigners!). Nevertheless, a fond memory for me.
Mike and the boys are HUGE ice cream lovers, so imagine all of our delight when I received an e-mail asking me to be a test blogger for the new varieties of Haagen-Dazs ice cream! It's all natural, made with only five ingredients (and less fat). It comes in seven varieties, and we were sent four pints, packed in dry ice, to taste test (plus some gift certificates for more!).

We sampled Mint, Ginger, Passion Fruit, and Brown Sugar. (I'll bet the coffee and milk chocolate are amazing!!) Here are photos of our family taste test:

As you can see, Chris LOVES ice cream...and his lei was a perfect fit for his favorite flavor, PASSION FRUIT:

Two-year-old Nicholas loved it all, and didn't name his favorite flavor.

6-year-old Kieran also declared passion fruit to be his favorite!

Mike and I both preferred the more "mature" flavors of mint and ginger. I've always liked any kind of mint ice cream--chocolate chip mint, peppermint, etc.--and we also both love ginger. They were both exceptional.
Thanks, Haagen-Dazs, for reminding me of why I enjoy your ice cream! Not only for the great, simple flavor...but also for the sentimental memories! I think I will go buy some rum raisin Haagen-Dazs--I haven't tasted any for about 20 years!

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