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Whenever there is tasty ice cream being prepared around town, count me in. I've been to Hanna Mitri, tried Oslo, reviewed Orso Bianco and many others, before discovering the latest Lebanon has to offer: Al Mandaloun's innovative pure sorbet ice creams.
Al Mandaloun sorbet ice creams are special for two major reasons: The first for being prepared with fresh fruits with no additives or coloring and the second is due to the latest technology behind this production imported directly from Europe. Today, I decided to have a bite of each of their unique flavors. Taste it all and discover the real secrets hidden behind the: Cherry, Watermelon, Jellab, Orange, Amareddine (n2ou3) and Meghle. Yes, the famous Lebanese drinks and desserts known for centuries are now available in ice cream versions.
The ice cream I had today were simply amazing! I enjoyed each and every of the flavors to the ultimate maximum. Just close your eyes, enjoy the rich aromas then let your taste buds sparkle and scream from enjoyment. Fresh cold fruits enjoyed during this summer's intense heat:
- Cherry: The cherry ice cream is not like any other cherry ice cream. This one is unique, imported directly from abroad, the cherries are mixed and pressed as is, with their skin, preserving their natural color, taste and texture. This ice cream is soft and light feeling exactly like a sorbet should, without added milk that makes it creamy and heavy. The water inside the fruits crunches a tiny bit adding more enjoyment to the experience.
- Watermelon: yes, watermelon not melon... The red fresh Lebanese "Battikh": nobody has to even tell you what it is. An experience that starts inside your nostrils is followed by a smile, an unjustifiable one, with your sub-conscience saying: "Waw! Battikh in an ice cream tasting that natural and good!". A clear taste close to the watermelon bubble gum we used to eat at school except that this one is natural and the other purely synthetic. A light red/pinkish color with a pure sorbet light feel. Bravo!
- Jellab or Jallab is a type of syrup popular in the Middle East made from carob, dates, grape molasses and rose water. Jallab is very popular in Lebanon. It is made mainly of grape molasses and artificial coloring, then smoked with Arabic incense. It is usually sold with crushed ice and floating pine nuts and raisins. Did I ever tell you that Jellab is one of my favorite drinks? I try not to have it often for its strong concentration in sugar so maybe this latest discovery can become my weekly ritual. "A superb ice cream" is a deserved description. Light, slightly crunching without being too watery and served with pine nuts and dried raisins. I think you would have to taste it to believe it. The same color, the same taste, the same aromas and the same decoration. That's a WAW creation.
- Orange: Lightly yellowish, this ice cream reminded me of Fadel's citron givré if you know it. (Citron givré is a lemon sorbet served in the lemon itself and considered to be light like if the lemon is frozen as is). Al Mandaloun uses fresh oranges, pressed and transformed into ice cream: Simple. A pure sorbet with the adequate quantity of sugar added. A sweetness anyone would fall in love with. A fine ice cream, fresh, tasty and served with lemon zest. Leave it aside for ten minutes and see the real juice melting around the bowl, not water. A juice tasty to drink as much as it is fresh.
- Amar el dine: yummy! Amar-el-Deen (Apricot Leather Drink) is a traditional middle eastern recipe for a classic sweet and fruity drink made from apricot paste that, traditionally, is served to end the Ramadan fast. Won't lie and say that I preferred it to Hanna Mitri's one but Al Mandaloun's recipe is also great. Served with pine nuts and a dried peach on top, it's the sophisticated restaurant version of the authentic one at Hanna Mitri. Having a light peach and orange taste, this ice cream has a bizarre feeling of coldness I've never experienced before. A must try for sure.
- Meghle: A sprinkle of dried coconut, raisins and crushed nuts (walnuts and almonds), and voila! The meghle is ready to be served. Meghle is a Lebanese form of rice pudding, made of boiled rice flour, sweetened with cane sugar and flavoured with anise, cinnamon and caraway. This dessert carries with it a special meaning: honor for a newborn child. Can you imagine Meghle in an ice cream version? I never did until now. The same exact texture, color, smell and taste but served cold: It's breathtaking! Covered with coconut, dried raisin and walnut and having a light brown color, this creation can become the next big trend. Would it replace the normal Meghle during summer days?
All of the ice cream above had something in common: freshness, consistency, minimal sweetness, lightness and natural ingredients creating an innovative product. You can buy 1kilo for 34,000L.L or ask for it in-house at 4,000L.L per scoop. Al Mandaloun's new ice cream creations are a must try before the summer season ends.