Hello all! Sorry, I know it’s been a while! I won’t waste precious time with you on excuses, just know that I’m refreshed and ready to get back at it!
What better way to celebrate my new start than with some Canadian-made ice cream! I was so thrilled to be approached for a partnership with Prairie West Ice Cream, a family-owned business based in Winnipeg, Manitoba. They’re a well-established ice cream maker with a long-standing lineup of favourite Canadian classics like Neapolitan, Maple and Cotton Candy, to name a few. I love that their ice creams are made with Canadian milk in a designated peanut-free facility. It’s reassuring to know exactly what’s in the treats I’m serving to my friends (or to myself, over and over and over again.)
The project Prairie West is excited about right now is their newest line, the CanAsian (Asian-inspired!) line of flavours that’s already out in stores across Canada in 1L portions! I won’t lie and say I’m not excited too – after experiencing so many of the gorgeous foods available while travelling Asia, I’m delighted to see more and more Asian snacks, drinks and sweets becoming ubiquitous pit stops in Canadian cities. There aren’t many people my age in Calgary who don’t have a favourite bubble tea stand, banh mi shop or Korean fried chicken joint. Let’s keep it growing!
I was battling a virus last weekend and craving something cool to soothe my throat. Even with the gloomy, rainy weather, it was a great time to be working on a story about some refreshing new ice creams. Matt used the website’s “Where to Buy” tool to find a store near us and had success with Calgary Co-op in their ice cream section, priced in line with other ice cream brands. I understand these can be a little tough to find in some stores, with a few displaying them with “Asian/ethnic frozen foods” rather than with sweets, so be aware of this possible shelving discrepancy when you’re on the hunt for these new flavours. (Also what even is an “ethnic” food? I don’t love that label. Suggested reading here.)
The CanAsian flavours we could find were Peach Lemongrass, Coconut, Mango and Honeydew Melon. There are also Green Tea and Sweet Spice, but we couldn’t track those down (cue Matt’s saddest facial expression). I’ll be keeping a lookout in the coming weeks and will be sure to post an update once we can track them down. I wish grocery stores understood how deeply it hurts my feelings when they don’t immediately stock the new products I want to try!
With four new litres of ice cream to sample, we tried to think of the best way to tackle the project. For one thing, they were all based around ingredients we’d definitely eat at brunch, so we photographed and ate these at about 10:30 a.m. on a Sunday. You’re welcome for our ingenuity! For our first course, we decided to start with something easy and familiar – mango. Matt is becoming terrific at picking out mangoes at the store, by the way. The one we sliced up to garnish this ice cream had that silky texture that only an incredibly ripe mango can provide. Well done, honey!
The Mango ice cream was so good. I usually have mango as either a fruity, icy sorbet or while travelling far away from the high quality Canadian dairy I prefer. This Prairie West version was such a treat! The flavour in the ice cream tasted smooth and natural, not too bright, artificial and sickly sweet like I’m so accustomed to experiencing with mango-flavoured desserts. I highly recommend adding some fresh mango to this as well if they’re in season – the room temperature mango cubes caused a slight melting effect to the ice cream around them, which only increased the silky luxury of this bowl! We still had lots of ice cream left to sample, but Matt insisted on stashing this one in the freezer to finish later. He so often chooses a favourite early in the game and sticks to it the whole time. I admire his strong convictions!
My favourite scoop is always Coconut! I garnished it with a little toasted coconut for that pleasant, chewy texture. (If you’d like to do it too, just broil some sweetened shredded coconut for 30-45 seconds, then immediately remove from the oven and transfer to a cool dish.) Honestly though, the ice cream didn’t need any fancy garnish. It was velvety and softly flavoured like the mango – no hint of anything overly sweetened or artificial here!
Next we tried Peach Lemongrass and Honeydew Melon, served up in cones after we finished pigging out on full bowls of coconut and mango. I will never say no to a honeydew flavoured dessert, by the way. It’s such a refreshing flavour and always makes me think of hot summer afternoons crowded around the snack table at a bridal shower or browsing the fruit station at a brunch buffet. The ice cream didn’t disappoint – once again, it was subtly sweet with a distinct honeydew taste. I love that pale green colour as well. Just the sight of it makes my mouth water.
Peach Lemongrass was the one we were most interested in trying – I can’t say I’ve had that combination before! While this one couldn’t topple our faves – the mango and coconut – it was definitely the most unique of the four. It had a bright, very distinct peach flavour with a subtle lemongrass undertone that I don’t think will alienate consumers with more straight-laced tastes. If you’re a fan of peach juice, peach iced tea, or peach-flavoured anything, you’ll be into this new flavour for sure!
All told, we both agreed we would buy all of these flavours again, especially the mango and coconut which would compliment each other well in a shake or a shared bowl. Next time I’m going to load my coconut ice cream up with maraschino cherries to keep Matt’s spoon away – I’m so grateful to have a dessert garnish in my arsenal that I can reliably use as a husband deterrent!
I wish I could say that all that ice cream satisfied my itch, but all it really did was make me even more anxious to try the Green Tea and Sweet Spice flavours next! We’ll keep cruising our local Co-op, Safeway, Save-on-Foods and Sobeys to watch for more Prairie West goodness. In the meantime – anyone want to come over for a sundae?