“Whacky” ice cream flavours regularly take the piss out of the U.K. scoop-seeker. Heinz tried to get the poor unsuspecting public to spend £15 on a bottle of ketchup, a naff tub, and some other accessories to make an ice cream whose disgraceful recipe was freely available online. Ice lolly pollsters routinely invite the poor unsuspecting public to vote on their “favourite ice lolly,” when the poll contains one ice lolly and five ice creams on sticks. So it’s not hard to read about a fashion designer opening an ice cream pop-up in Mayfair dedicated entirely to the brands’s most coveted condiments and pantry ingredients and scream.
But wait: it appears that Anya Hindmarch’s Ice Cream Project has learned the lessons of the past. Get over the fact that it is situated in “The Village,” a row of stores in Chelsea that the brand has tried to claim as its own little township, and find that these tubs of ice cream, just waiting to be dismayingly cursed trinkets at the shrine of condiment capitalism actually have some thought behind them?
First, they aren’t all savoury or even trying to be “whacky” — itself a cultural construct that usually translates to “would a white British Brexit voter think, ‘ew?’” rather than any meaningful thought about what makes food “weird.” Savoury ice cream is far from new; the aggressive agrodolce contrast of balsamic vinegar on strawberry and the tingling ingenuity of chilli crisp on vanilla are well documented. There’s Bird’s custard; Lyle’s golden syrup, and even Kellogg’s Frosties. There’s a Polo flavour, that has had enough brain cells dedicated to its creation that the maker realised a sorbet would be more faithful to its bracingly hoarse character than an ice cream would.
And then the savoury flavours don’t come from the lazy Heinz school either. A soy sauce ice cream ripples Kikkoman through a sesame base, creating a nutty, umami contrast. The mayonnaise rendition doesn’t try and overdo it, instead focussing on the brightness of lemon and vinegar agaisnt a rich base. And Lea and Perrins goes full Bloody Mary, making a tomato sorbet just aggressed by the honk of fermented anchovy and tamarind. Yes, the baked bean flavour is beyond all hope. Yes, this is a summertime tribute to the canniness of marketing and the inescapable pull of nostalgia on capital. And yes, it’s all actually in service of Hindmarch’s new bag collection, which runs into the near £1000s. But it also has a bit of thought behind it, and that’s something.