Question our food knowledge, wisdom and experience as much as you want, but while both Nathan and I are proudly self-proclaimed foodie-hacks (i.e., a couple normal dudes), I am willing to proclaim myself an ice cream expert beyond dispute. Consider my credentials. Thanks to many family summer vacations in Vermont, I have been to the Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream Factory* innumerable times (at least twice a summer), so I have seen firsthand how some of the best ice cream around is made, and have probably tasted close to every flavor there. In my college years, I went to Penn State, home of the world famous Creamery, which if you haven't had their ice cream, you're seriously missing out. It's one of Bill Clinton's favorites, and you know that fella likes his frozen desserts. Now that I'm in Pittsburgh, I'm not that far away from great local shops like Dave & Andy's and Oh Yeah! which I frequent every so often for a cone or dish of dairy bliss. Needless to say, I've had lots and lots of regular grocery store-type brands over the years as well, as my gut bears witness to. And Sandy? Aside from puppies, fireworks at a Pirates game, and I hope yours truly, she probably loves ice cream more than anything else in this world. If she could have it every meal of thee day, I know she would and not think twice about it. Give her a sub-par bowlful though, she won't be too shy to voice her displeasure. A sure win of a date for the two of us is to grab the pooch and go out for a scoop. Trust us, we're experts.
So when we both say that Trader Joe's Lemon & Triple Ginger Snap Ice Cream may be some of the best ice cream we've ever had, that says one heckuva lot. As Sandy said between mouthfuls the first time we gobbled some down, "There's nothing bad that can be said about this." So true, wifey. The lemon ice cream base is subtly lemony, kinda sweet and tangy, but not over the top citrusy - there's just enough lemon to let you know it's there, and certainly won't make you want to pucker up. I'd say it's the perfect amount, because it accents the triple ginger cookie dough dry-swirled into the mix in just the right balance. If you've had the Triple Ginger Snaps from TJ's, you know exactly how good they are - a heavenly mix of crystallized, fresh and ground ginger made into cookie batter for a perfect ginger-spiced cookie. It is a fairly dry batter, so it doesn't exactly mix seamlessly in the ideal creaminess that is the lemony ice cream, but the whole consistency works well enough and it's so incredibly tasty that you just can't knock it. Overall, the ratio of cookie dough to ice cream is just about right. There was a pretty large vein of batter we unearthed towards the bottom in our particular carton, which made it seem a little bottom-heavy, but believe me, the two of us didn't mind it at all. The side of the container says each carton holds the rough equivalent of 15 cookies worth of dough, which seems about right to me.
Sandy and I chomped our way through the whole quart of this in only two sittings. Yes, we know, that's bad for you. Ice cream will kill you. Shame on us, yada yada yada. Right. Pick this up, take a taste, and try to put it down. You won't be able to. It's more addictive than Teletubbies for a two-year old. You can't not eat it, unless you're weird and don't like superlatively fantasterific ice cream, or you're some type of monk sworn to abstain from any and all types of earthly pleasure, which in that case I'd say you're missing out.
If I had to give a list of the best ice cream I've ever had, there's no way that this isn't near the top. If you're not familiar with the idea of "pantheon," in short, it's the best of the best, the summit of the mountain, if you will, that once someone or something achieves that level, it's impossible to rank it against others who have achieved that status. It's the most elite of statuses, and not an honor to be taken lightly. It's a Hall of Fame within the Hall of Fame (think Billy Williams vs. Ted Williams). Anyways, if I had to make an ice cream Mt. Rushmore, this would be right up there with the Creamery's Peachy Paterno, Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia and Chubby Hubby, and the offbeat but incredulously good bacon and Trix** combo from Oh Yeah!. It's that good, and if it makes the ice cream pantheon, you best believe it qualifies for the WGaTJ's one as well. Five from me, five from my lady, and I wish we had five more cartons in the freezer. Probably a good thing that we don't.
Bottom line: 10 out of 10 Golden Spoons
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*Everyone who works at the Ben & Jerry's factory gets three free pints of ice cream a day. They're also owned by the same folks who own Weight Watchers. Talk about a sustainable business practice.
**Much better than the bacon and hops I had once, as well as the inadvertent wasabi that secretly snuck it's way into my dish once. Talk about an unpleasant surprise.