Ice Cream the Cold Truth
Every place that I visit ice cream is part of the countries fine culinary library. Some countries lean toward a more ice water mixture, some a little more cream, some like a bread sandwich, and others a toss of the wrist; a few local vegetables are added. In Thailand the art of cool desert makings has left the family kitchens and moved into the mainstream bucket of plastic iced delights. While looking for the cool cone I meet a lot of people that tell me of a relative that used to make great ice cream out of their own home, and sell it to a generation long gone. It takes a little street walking to find the best spots for ice cream lovers, but well worth hunt. The title book in Thailand’s great food library should be “coconut ice cream”
The search is in the corner of the eye. Finding a great ice cream vendor is not a directly in front of you experience. More than often they are off to the side of the road and corner of the eye as you are looking for something else. Most are pushing their carts or on a pedal bikes, and they tend to move out of sight very quickly. The rig is made up of a central stainless steel round tank, and mini towers of cones and plastic tubs that surround it. There is usually no advertising and nothing with the words “Ice Cream”. If it has red and white colors, a motorcycle, it is part of a large plastic tub ice cream conglomerate, not worth the taste test. It is a local thing too, most foreigners are afraid to eat anything that is not under yellow arches. The other indicator that it is an original coconut ice cream, is the pedal cone people sell only one flavor, occasionally two. The vendors find that the best sales are to locals, and so head to them to get the sales. The best cone sellers can be found everywhere in the country, A sure fire place to find them from the deep dark south of the beaches to the cool northern climate of the mountains is the areas where local plants are sold or minor landscaping is promoted. It is here that you can see the garden ideas of the tropics and can enjoy a cool one. Please put a little more cream on it . One of the favorites of the street vendor dessert sellers is to pour a little condensed milk on your cone before giving it to you. Stop them before they do it, it is way too sweet, just the cone and bright white coconut flavor is perfect.
The country of smiles has a good and bad side to many flavors, both of which should be experienced. The best, coconut, is one of the oldest flavors. In some of the largest food chains it is just about impossible to find good old coconut flavored ice cream. It has been pushed aside by the commercial rocky roads, chocolate, chocolate, and super deep chocolate. Thailand has developed a vanilla flavor, do not be fooled, it is not real vanilla and is a very poor imitation. The rum raisin is another terrible experience that even a devoted taster will leave a bowl full behind. There are some very good green tea and mochas. One must try taste is the corn or bean ice cream. It is always nice to experience the local foodstuffs that are introduced into part the desert. This is an ice cream that has chunks of corn, or fine strips of green bean added. It is a great taste once you get over the idea of bright yellow corn in the desert. This kind of a full meal desert that can only be found in larger food stores.
After more than twenty years of extensive Thailand ice cream research I have found the coconut flavor to be one of the best and worth the time and effort to experience it. Find the push cart vendors and take a chance. A great taste in a library of fantastic foods, coconut ice cream.
For those of you that are banana spit lovers, the lowest price and nicest spot to enjoy one is at a hotel called the Chiang Mai Gate Hotel. It is located close to CM gate on the moat. Find the shaded area close to the pool, where all of the tables are, and relax at the one with the view of the pool. Cool, shade, a great view, and a nice banana spit at spot where there is no rush move on. May, see you there?