Taste Test: We Tried All Four Valentine’s Day Flavors from Sebastian’s Ice Cream and Here’s What We ThinkFebruary 14, 2017
Valentine’s day can feel alienating to those who have yet to find (or have no intent to find) ‘the one’, or whose relationship status can best be summed with the two words, “It’s Complicated”. But if there’s one thing anyone can look forward to, it’s the many Valentine’s-themed sweet treats and eats offered this time of year. One local ice cream company steps up to the season with four themed flavors on offer.
Sebastian’s Ice Cream may well be among the pioneers of premium, artisanal ice cream in the country. Since starting the business in 2005, Sebastian’s has become known for going beyond convention—be it by taking classic treats (such as sapin-sapin) and transforming them into ice cream form, by highlighting overlooked local ingredients (e.g. with their kamias sorbet), by employing flavor combinations relatively uncommon in these parts (e.g. blue cheese and honey or strawberry-balsamic), and by coming up with other frozen novelties that include frozen bars, ice cream pizzas and more.
In their earlier years, Sebastian’s would bring out just a single flavor for Valentine’s day: a chocolate-rose scoop called Flowers & Chocolate. In 2014 they expanded their offerings to two flavors: the first iteration of Matinong Boyfriend (then, an affair of raspberry sorbet and sweet cream) and Matinong Girlfriend (which then featured a combination of chocolate, rum, cookie butter and almonds). It was in 2015 that they really stepped up their V-day offerings: they updated the flavors for Matinong Boyfriend and Girlfriend, and added two new members to the lineup—Closure (made with chrysanthemum, orange, and vanilla at the time), and Unresolved Issues (which until now is comprised of an ampalaya sorbet and candied ampalaya chunks).
Since then, they’ve kept the names but varied up the combinations every year—except for Unresolved Issues, which has remained constant since its inception (much like, ahem, your own). How does 2017’s lineup fare?
Deep, dark, and glistening, Matinong Boyfriend is a visual tease. A scoop features the very Valentines-y combination of chocolate, rum, and a swirl-in of tart raspberry sorbet. All together, everything mingles into an old-fashioned, but nostalgic flavor that loosely evokes black forest cake. Predictable? Maybe, but Sebastian’s does it well. Its chocolate base is bittersweet and bold, with a heavy addition of cocoa that leaves grit on the tongue. While it smolders with darkness, it does not overwhelm with richness; its surprisingly lean body veers it toward being a chocolate sorbet, allowing the robustness of cocoa to assert itself. Added vigor comes from mixed-in bits of dark chocolate that feel smooth as they melt.
I don’t know which part is wackier—Cheese ice cream, Cheetos chunks—but as fans of the orange puff snack, we were excited for this scoop. You get an ice cream scoop in a shade of orange that’s both mellow and vivacious. The base delivers on the sweet, salty, milky goodness of processed cheese powder, similar to what you find in a steamy cup of street side cheese corn. It’s one of those things you either hate or love; we enjoyed it for all its in-your-face kitsch. What could use improvement though, was the Cheetos mix-in, which was better in theory than execution. Likely due to the coldness or the moisture, the junk snack made for stale bites that feel like styrofoam as you chew; topping a scoop with Cheetos on the spot as you order might work better.
Compared to the other flavors, the muted shade of tan of this plain, mix-in free scoop appears drab and uninspired. Don’t let its looks fool you though. This year’s Closure by far is our favorite of the bunch. The combination is at once exotic but familiar, marrying the tropical zest of dayap and passionfruit with the oriental allure of black tea. You get a vibrant, tangy scoop that tingles, then mellows out; and the scoop overall nails the balance between milky and refreshing.
Finally, the infamous ampalaya sorbet. Before anything: it’s 2017 and it’s about time we appreciate the beauty bitterness brings (the flavor, not the feeling). As the bitter gourd already polarizes in its barest form, how does it stand in a dessert? Not too too bad, when given a chance. The sorbet features a texture so fine, it feels like snow as it melts on the tongue. You get the grassy herbaceousness of the gourd with just enough bitterness that immediately surrenders itself to the bite of the cold temperature and sweetness of the candied ampalaya. Think of it as a less-nutty, more-earthy matcha. It’s worth mentioning how the candied ampalaya stays juicy, even when frozen.
Sebastian’s offers a solid line-up here, where both classic and crazy come well represented. There’s something for everyone in terms of flavors preferences and relationship status (or lack thereof)—and only rightfully so, because Valentine’s day should be for everyone.