East Asia may be the weirdness capital of the world, but they don't have a monopoly when it comes to strange eats--you can find plenty of odd flavors right here in the USA!
For instance: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams, a local Ohio chain of adventurous gourmet ice cream shops.
I found out about Jeni's just this morning, from a Yahoo! Travel article on the country's best ice cream. Columbus, with its dairy-producing hinterland, has long been known as a good ice cream town, with several notable local chains. Neither of us had ever been to Jeni's, though--seemed like the perfect way to spend out last night in Ohio.
Now, thanks to the magic of the taster spoon, we were able to sample several flavors before committing to our scoops.
The salty caramel was first. Exactly as advertised: caramel, with sea salt. Definitely appeals to the guy who's been known to eat an entire bag of chocolate-covered pretzels in one sitting . . .
We also tasted black coffee (coffee ice cream that tasted like actual coffee ice cream, according to Nana's mom), brown sugar almond brittle (a bit sweet for Nana's tastes), and coriander raspberry (a nice combo, but with the yogurt flavor perhaps a little too strong). In addition, Nana's mom was kind enough to share some of her mint, which tasted like actual mint (you'll notice a theme here), a flavor achieved, I'm told, by steeping actual mint leaves in the cream.
For our own scoops, I started with Queen City Cayenne--dark chocolate with a hefty dash of hot pepper. For me? Just awesome. I've had a long and tumultuous love affair with spicy chocolate, and this was like eating a cup full of red pepper truffles.
It was a bit spicy for Nana, though.
We followed up with wildberry lavender. A very delicate flavor, kind of like floral tea with a hint of blueberry and blackberry. Really freakin' good.
And we ended with sweet corn raspberry. Nana hated this one, but it grew on me with every bite. It really did taste like sweet corn--buttery, a bit salty.
Finally, Nana's sister kindly offered us a few spoonfuls of her take-out scoops, dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Classic flavors, done exceptionally well. Tons of chocolate flavor, without the blast of sugar you usually find in chocolate ice cream.
All around, Jeni's was a huge success. Go check it out if you're an ice cream lover with some time to spare in Columbus!