Back in the spring the rest of the family watched the latest series of “Masterchef” together, often while it was being broadcast live. My son would often go back and watch some of the scenes again, like he does with his favourite dance routines from “Strictly Come Dancing”. Our multi-channel box now has dozens of recordings of both shows in their various formats (“Celebrity Masterchef”, “Strictly” Christmas Specials and so on). In May he asked me what blackcurrant sorbet was. One of the contestants had used it in a dessert.
I explained briefly the difference between sorbet and dairy ice cream. The former is usually made with fruit, especially a citrus fruit like lemon or orange, and tastes sharper than the latter. Although he was very familiar with many different ice cream flavours (mint choc chip is his favourite) he had never tasted sorbet, so rather than get too caught up in descriptions we went to Foubert’s, the local ice cream parlour. They had three flavours of sorbet: orange, lemon and mango. We bought a small pot of each and taste-tested them when we got home. Since that May evening we have eaten rather a lot of ice cream, both dairy and sorbet. His preference is for a combination of mint choc chip and mango sorbet. A child’s cone with both flavours costs £1.30, a small cone is £1.80. I have stuck with sorbet and whenever I encounter something out of the ordinary (something other than the standard trio of orange, lemon or mango) I have made a point of trying it. This summer has been the Summer of Sorbet.
After seeking out different flavours in all parts of London and all over Devon on our holidays last month I can conclude that mango is the “vanilla” of sorbets, if you know what I mean. If a shop has just one sorbet flavour it will be mango. If they stock two flavours they will be mango and lemon. A newly opened local ice cream store has, at various times this summer, sold strawberry, banana and blackcurrant sorbets, so my son was able to taste the sorbet that had been used in “Masterchef” and prompted his earlier question. We had a branch of Gelato Mio on the High Road around ten years ago and their watermelon sorbet was one of the best that I have ever had. A couple of other shops had watermelon on the menu this summer but neither was especially noteworthy.
The biggest disappointment in this Summer of Sorbet came at a triple-fronted ice cream shop that will remain nameless. They had seven different flavours: peach, apple, watermelon and blood orange as well as the usual orange, lemon and mango. They all tasted like bubble-gum. Autumn is coming. The search for the perfect sorbet will continue for a few weeks yet.