Keep Austin Chilled

Where to go for sweet relief from the heat

Other Delights

So you think eating ice cream is the perfect antidote to the sweltering summer heat of Central Texas? Well, you are in good company worldwide: People in similar latitudes share these cooling-off sentiments and consume variations of ice cream around the globe. Lucky for us, a selection of creamy frozen treats originating from faraway hot climates is available for us to enjoy right here in Austin.

One of these refreshing delights is kulfi, ice cream from India that is made from whole milk cooked very slowly for hours, producing a reduced, thickened mixture. Traditionally, kulfi is flavored with cardamom and various dried fruit and nuts, and is molded into pyramid-shaped cones or frozen on a stick for street consumption. The end result is a mildly sweet, very dense concoction that is just slightly grainy in texture – it's the perfect chilly ending to a spicy, tastebud-tingling Indian meal.

In Austin, you can find kulfi at Taj Grocers (9515 N. Lamar, 836-6292). Available flavors are pista (pistachio), malai (sweet cream, somewhat like vanilla), and my favorite, chikoo (the tart, tropical sapota fruit). They also sell mango and pistachio/almond kulfi bars. In addition to various kulfi flavors, MGM Indian Foods (7429 Burnet Rd., 459-5353) carries shrikhand, a dessert made from milk solids flavored with saffron, something like a frozen yogurt, which I find tangy and quite refreshing.

At Jegimajo! (2400 E. Oltorf Ste. 12-A, 443-2062), a bubble-tea bar and grocery specializing in Filipino foods, you can find an interesting variety of Magnolia-brand ice creams imported from Manila, one of the hottest, most humid places on earth. My absolute favorite is the lovely purple taro ice cream, which reminds me of nothing so much as cookies-and-cream, but don't neglect the mango, jackfruit, macapuno (coconut), and ube (purple yam) flavors. Too bad, but Jegimajo! no longer carries corn-and-cheese ice cream; it's difficult to describe that eating experience but, trust me, it's better than it sounds.

In Japanese cuisine, mochi is a sticky, stretchy, slightly sweet delicacy, a finely textured, glutinous dough made from cooked, pulverized rice. It is traditionally eaten at the New Year (in Japanese folk tradition, little rabbits living on the moon make mochi). In the early 1990s, Miyakawa, a Japanese-American food manufacturing company in Los Angeles, developed and popularized mochi ice cream. This is absolutely delectable, two-bite-sized ice cream balls encased in a paper-thin layer of mochi that is flavored to match the ice cream it surrounds. This unique frozen treat took off in Southern California and Hawaii and is available in Austin, as well.

Both Bistro 88 (2712 Bee Caves Rd., 328-8888) and Noodle-ism (107 W. Fifth, 275-9988) offer lovely strawberry, mango, green tea, and chocolate mochi ice creams. The New Oriental Market (6929 Airport #121, 467-9828) carries the somewhat edgier red-bean mochi ice cream, as well as green tea, vanilla, and mango flavors. – MM Pack

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