Thursday, January 21, 2016

Tillamook Ice Cream

About year or two ago, I became aware of the Tillamook brand due to their catchy "baby loaf bus" commercials, and the ensuing drama when someone stole a bunch of them (yes, for real ... go read about it).  But, I thought they just made cheese.  I like cheese, don't get me wrong, but, cheese is cheese (unless it is Brillat-Savarin of course, swoon), and not something I get THAT excited about.

But, it turns out Tillamook makes more than just cheese.  They also make yogurt, sour cream, butter, and ... ice cream.  Now we are talking.  They've even made it since 1947.  They sell standard cartons of ice cream at the supermarket (1.75 qt size), plus "Tillamookies" (ice cream sandwiches with wafer cookies like waffle cones as the cookies), and "Tillabars" (chocolate coated ice cream bars on sticks).

But this isn't a story about any of those products.  In February 2016, they are launching a new product line of ultra premium ice cream, gelato, and custard, available in pint sizes too.  And, to promote their new products, they sent out ... the baby loaf bus!
Baby Loaf Bus!
I was walking past The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen, when I spied ... yes, a baby loaf bus parked out front.

It was a cold, almost rainy day, and totally not ice cream weather, but, that didn't stop me.  Luckily for me, it seemed to stop everyone else, and there was literally no line.  No line, and free ice cream?  WHAT?!

On offer were four of the soon-to-be-released flavors:
  • Dark Chocolate Gelato
  • Stumptown Cold Brew Coffee Ice Cream
  • Oregon Hazelnut Chocolate Gelato
  • Marionberry Cheesecake Custard
Marionberry Cheesecake Custard,  Oregon Hazelnut Chocolate Gelato. 2016
I stepped right up and ordered the one that sounded most interesting to me, the Marionberry Cheesecake Custard.  After dishing out a full scoop, not just a tiny sample as I expected, the friendly Tillamook staff member said, "and what else?"  I was shocked, not only were they giving me a full scoop, they wanted to know what other flavors I wanted?  I hesitated a moment, knowing it was late in the day so I didn't want caffeine, so I ruled out the obviously caffeinated coffee flavor and the dark chocolate, and settled on the hazelnut chocolate gelato.  The server asked if I wanted any others, and I said no at this point, quite happy with my two scoops.  Amusingly, the guy who strode up to line after me, did opt to get a scoop of all 4 flavors!

"Sweet mascarpone frozen custard swirled with an Oregon marionberry ripple and pieces of graham cracker crust."

I started with the Marrionberry Cheesecake Custard.  It had lovely swirls of marionberry jam, and bits of graham cracker crumble.  I didn't really taste cheesecake, but the texture was very smooth in the base custard, it melted pefectly, and I liked the bits of crust for crunch and the fruity swirls.  The distribution of ingredients was great.  I wasn't in love with the flavor though.

"Creamy hazelnut gelato and thick chocolate fudge, topped with morsels of roasted Oregon hazelnuts."

I moved on to my second choice, the hazelnut chocolate.  I ended up loving this one, which is interesting, as I don't actually really care much for hazelnut.  The base of the gelato was again great, a rich, creamy texture, that melted really nicely.  It was loaded with quite a lot of hazelnut.  The pieces of nut were the perfect size too, adding plenty of texture and crunch, without being too big and hard to eat.  The real winning element for me however was the chocolate fudge swirl.  Just like the marionberry jam swirl, it was a generous swirl, this time of rich chocolate.  I loved it.

I really enjoyed both flavors, and the care that went into crafting the ingredient mix was obvious.  Each bite left you wanting more, another bite with crunch, another bite with a fruit or jam swirl.  Maybe, just maybe, I really could have tried all 4!
California Pistachio Farmhouse Gelato. June 2016.
"Creamy, nutty, and truly indulgent pistachio gelato with the perfect hint of sea salt."

And ... the baby loaf bus came back!  A few months later, during the actual summer.  It was perfect ice cream weather, and I was thrilled to see the bus.

They had three choices this time, the same Stumptown coffee and Marionberry cheesecake as before, but this time, no hazelnut chocolate (darn!  That is what I wanted again!), so, I went for the pistachio, made with California pistachios.

It was perfectly melty, and had a slight pistachio taste, but, there was something about it I didn't care for.  I'm really not sure what it was, but it had a bit of a funk to it.  Still, very creamy, nicely made gelato, just, not in a flavor I wanted. 
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