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Havre aux Glaces: the thread

A thread for discussing the city's current best ice cream maker, its outlets at Jean-Talon and Atwater markets and its constantly changing offer.

The Sicilian blood orange sherbet is finished until next spring, and more's the pity. Four new flavours were printed on the blackboard at JTM today. I tried two. The choco-tangerine sherbet is subtle, soft and lovely. The strawberry and fresh cheese sherbet comes with a surprise: a lingering tingle from Szechuan peppercorns. Tempered for ten or 15 minutes in the fridge before serving, it's simply superb, tasting of real fruit and with each of the flavours simultaneously distinguishable and yet perfectly melded. One of their best efforts to date (and that's saying something).

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  1. I haven't been to Havre aus Glaces yet. However, I was just at Biblioquet, the artisan ice cream maker, on Sherbrooke in Westmount on Monday. Two scoops cost $3.60, if memory serves. I had a scoop of mango sorbet and litchi sorbet. Both were quite good and tasted like mango and litchi. The litchi one was particularly good, and it felt like I was biting into an ice cold litchi.

    1. I went for the first time last Saturday and my S.O. and I immediately understood why it's so universally recommended. We tried Lemon, Grapefruit, Chai Masala, Raspberry, Ginger, and Chestnut. The chestnut was dissapointing, in that it just tasted sweet and unidentifiable to us, but everything else was delicious. So 5/6 for our tastebuds so far. And at $3.25 for 3 flavours (medium cup), it's a very affordable market treat.

      1 Reply
      1. re: eoj

        I was at JTM last week-end to get my summer mango fix. While there, I stopped by Harve aux Glaces and had their mango sorbet (I've got mangoes on the brain, lately) and their pineapple sorbet. The mango was scrumptious; soft, sweet, infused with mango flavour. The pineapple one was a bit of a disappointment. It was good, don't get me wrong; but next to the mango, it came off as lackluster, a bit puckish and tangy due to the pineapple acidity and wasn't as sweet as I would have liked.

      2. The two new flavours I've had are the Caramel Brulé which tasted too much like brulé and not enough like caramel, and the Orange Sanguine which I tought was very good.

        1. Too bad the blood orange has run out. It is amazing! Especially paired with black currant sorbet. Mmmm!

          6 Replies
          1. re: mainsqueeze

            Well, the blood orange will be back next spring. Something to look forward to. To their credit, they make it only with fresh Tarocco oranges from Sicily, not the inferior Moro variety imported from California/Florida. It never occurred to me to pair it with the cassis sherbet but will do so next year. One of the owners once insisted I try the cassis sherbet with the vanilla ice cream: now there's a marriage made in heaven.

            1. re: carswell

              Now I know what I'm ordering this weekend!

              1. re: mainsqueeze

                I was at the Harve aux Glaces in Atwater Market yesterday. Had the strawberry cheese pepper sorbet and the pear cider sorbet. Absolutely amazing, they both were. Carswell was right, the strawberry cheese pepper sorbet is really something quite special. However, the pear and cider sorbet was equally as good if not better, imo. The pear flavour was immediate apparent and distinct from the first bite, but it was softened and accented by the cider. A very tasty sorbet, indeed. I highly recommend it.

                1. re: Chai Latte

                  I agree that the pear and cider sorbet is delightful. I paired it with the hazelnut ice cream and for a moment, thought I finally understood what true ice cream bliss really was...

                  1. re: swissfoodie

                    I was at the JTL Sunday and tried the pear and cider sorbet which indeed was nice; I paired it with the totally different chocolate and cherry sorbet -- very nice in its own low-key way. Actually what I liked best were the two spoonfuls I had of my companion's ginger sorbet -- definitely ginger, but just exactly the right intensity for my tastes.

                  2. re: Chai Latte

                    I prefered the poire-porto sorbet they had last year.

            2. Was at the JT Market on Saturday and tried the choco-tangerine (delish!), grapefruit (just like the real thing!), and marsala chai (not exactly a summery flavour). Line up was out the door so they are definately doing something right!

              1. Tried their chocolate-sour cherry ice cream last weekend and almost fainted. It was perfect. The watermelon (pasteque) sorbet was ok - tasted a bit like a Jolly Rancher.

                6 Replies
                1. re: swissfoodie

                  Chocolate and sour cherry: two of my favourite flaovurs. Thanks for the heads-up. Dropped by on Monday just after noon and there was none to be seen. And the store (like the rest of the market) was such a zoo -- screaming children, frazzled parents in baby-stroller gridlock, no discernable queue, patrons three deep in front of the counter, etc. -- that I couldn't get near enough a clerk to ask for details.

                  Agree about the watermelon, one of the least interesting sherbet flavours I've had. Am sure part of the problem is the quality of the raw ingredients. Have never encounterd a decent watermelon, imported or locally grown, in Montreal. Ditto apricots. Don't know why people bother.

                  1. re: carswell

                    Went back on Sunday and paired the sour cherry & chocolate with the hazelnut - highly recommend.

                  2. re: swissfoodie

                    Strikeout. Just in from my third attempt to score some of the chocolate and sour cherry. None for sale, though at least this time it was listed on the *nouveautés* board, so I know you aren't making it up. Consoled myself with a half litre of strawberry and fresh cheese sherbet -- more intensely fruity but also less cheesy and peppery than six weeks ago -- and a taste of the new red currant sherbet -- pure, intense and mouth-puckeringly tart, delicious but probably best not eaten on its own.

                    1. re: carswell

                      Eureka! While not the chocolate sherbet with cherry pieces that I was expecting, it's a wonderful blend of the two flavours with the sugar perfectly dosed. A real winner.

                      1. re: carswell

                        Finally. I finally found an excuse to get back. I took the chocolate cherry, paired with ginger. The ginger was very good. But the choco-cherry was in a class by itself, nearly brought a tear to my eyes. Wow.

                        1. re: JQReid

                          I'm surprised at all the choco-cherry love. I guess I just don't like chocolate sorbet. I feel there's something missing from it. It tastes more like cocoa that chocolate to me. It's lacking a creaminess I expect from all things chocolate. My impression of the choco-cherry was that the flavours were too bold and the texture was unpleasant. Like it needs some fat to attenuate and lengthen the flavours.

                          Anyway, that's just my opinion, and I can understand how someone would enjoy the intensity of the sorbet. It certainly isn't something that could leave you ambivalent.

                  3. My mother LOVES that place, she makes excuses to go to the Marche Jean Talon just to go get some of their coconut ice cream, she usually gets one scoop of that and another of Mango or whatever else she can think to pair up with the coconut.

                    Hopefully they will still be open when i make my yearly trek home.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: GenevieveCa

                      The main store (Jean Talon market) is open year round though open till 10 p.m. only in the summer. The mini outlet behind the Atwater market is seasonal (May to October, if I recall correctly).

                      1. re: carswell

                        Merci beaucoup!!

                        Is it more ice cream or "gelato" type things they have there?

                        1. re: GenevieveCa

                          Definilty more gelato than ice cream, but they don't do many traditional Italian flavours. It's more about orginality and working with seasonal ingredients.

                          1. re: GenevieveCa

                            About evenly divided between ice creams and sherbets, though the exact offer changes from day to day and even hour to hour.

                      2. Wow. La Presse has an article today on the best ice cream parlors in town, and no mention of Havre aux glaces. Great research.(http://www.cyberpresse.ca/article/200...)

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Venusia

                          I find it quite odd that the shop doesn't even get a mention when it is, IMHO, the best in town. I wonder what Robert Beauchemin would think of that.

                          1. re: Campofiorin

                            "I wonder what Robert Beauchemin would think of that."

                            Bof. In his La Presse article on duck confit a couple of years ago, he recommended the products that came in last in my fairly exhaustive survey and totally ignored the ones that came out on top. He really liked Maison du Rôti's pitiful effort (made from Pékin duck legs, the absolute worse for confit; ugly to look at; terrible texture; no flavour) but dissed Anjou-Québec's excellent product because it was more expensive and came from snooty Outremont. He also recently described Cluny ArtBar as having a Dashiell Hammett ambience, demonstrating he knows just as little about American fiction as he does about duck confit.

                            1. re: carswell

                              I said that because for the last couple of years, he's been conducting sort of a survey of the best ice cream shop in the city and this being published in the same paper as he writes just seemed really odd to me. That being said, I'm not much of a duck lover, I leave that to the GF so I wouldn't know.

                          2. re: Venusia

                            Not that I want to defend that article, but they start by saying that they where looking for less known places. That being said they mention a place that sells Coaticook ice cream and Solo Fruits sorbets. I guess Coaticook is fine, but ami I the only one who thinks the Solo Fruits sorbets are rather bad? I've only tasted two of them and I thought the chocolate one was terrible and the pear one was just ok. They certainly weren't worth the price I paid.

                            1. re: SnackHappy

                              Yes you're right, the person was looking for lesser known establishments. The article does give me some interesting options.

                              1. re: BLM

                                Upon closer inspection, I've been to all the ice cream places in the Montreal-area featured except the one in Anjou.

                            2. re: Venusia

                              He does mention Havres aux glace in the paragraph about Sorbetto - but it doesn't make his article any better...

                            3. Havre aux glaces is open again, with a slicker decor and smaller (but probably more efficient) service area that's sans bar and sans tables and chairs. Oddly, they've got blood orange sherbet on offer -- oddly because I've yet to see any Sicilian oranges around. It's good but different from last year's spring offering, slightly sweeter, more pink grapefruity, less elusive and haunting. The ice cream cake fridge contains a chic Valentine's dessert: two single-serving hearts, layered raspberry sherbet and dark chocolate ice cream under a classy red icing. $8 the pair and probably available this week only.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: carswell

                                Blood oranges are around town if you look hard for them - although I'm not sure they're Sicilian, they may well be from California. We've been buying them for the past few weeks - Loblaws is carrying them, among other stores.

                                1. re: cherylmtl

                                  The only ones I've seen are Sunkists, which are from the States and are the generally inferior, sometimes musky tasting though more reliably red Moro variety. The Sicilian oranges -- usually Taroccos -- typically arrive in late winter/early spring. A couple of years ago, one of HaG's owners told me they used only Taroccos for their sherbet. That said, the pinker colour and less nuanced flavour of the current batch of sherbet may well mean they've changed their policy.

                                  1. re: cherylmtl

                                    You don't even have to look hard I've been buying them for the pas couple of weeks and Louis and Nino.

                                  2. re: carswell

                                    I have seen blood oranges in town for at least a month. There are also cara cara oranges, which are like a mix of blood orange and grapefruit. I'm wondering if this is what they are using for their sherbet. The seville oranges have also been in town for a couple of weeks now.

                                    1. re: swissfoodie

                                      See above re the currently available blood oranges. www.chowhound.com/topics/403500#3381208

                                      See the wine board for an interesting discussion on a Seville orange and cumin-rubbed chicken I recently roasted (recipe included). www.chowhound.com/topics/484743

                                      The HaG clerk said the sherbet is made from fresh blood oranges and has been part of the lineup for a week or two. In previous years when they've made sherbet with cara cara oranges, they've labelled it as such.

                                      I'm really thinking they chanced upon some Moro oranges they thought passed muster and decided to get a head start on the season.

                                      1. re: carswell

                                        I've been told today that a seating area should be ready next week. As for blood oranges, they've had Californian ones for a while at Nino and since last week, they started selling Italian ones. Hope this helps!

                                    2. re: carswell

                                      Had a cup with two flavours this afternoon: honey tangerine sorbet and blood orange sorbet. The tangerine tasted anonymously citric and stale and was lumpy/grainy. The blood orange was OK but something's different with this year's version; it's both more intense and sweeter but less memorable, less pure, farther from the real fruit, more like something you'd expect from Häagen Dazs than an artisanal product.

                                    3. My boyfriend and I went there while on a trip to Jean Talon market the other day. He got a cup with the odd combination of clementine and maple caramel brule and I got blood orange and coconut. We both pretty much agreed that the clementine was the best of the bunch. It was very fresh and somehow familiar while not being an exact replica of the fruit.

                                      My second pick would probably have to be the coconut. Although there wasn't a lot to it, it was sweet and creamy with some almost husky texture to it in parts which was not unwelcome given the authenticity it served up. That said, as a Mile End type with easy access to Bilboquet, I don't think I would choose the Havre aux glaces version given the option of the more flavourful, if visually and texturally antiseptic variety available at Bilboquet.

                                      The blood orange was very tasty, but it wasn't much compared to the blood oranges I've been enjoying in the comfort of my own home recently. It was sweet and quite delicious, but it didn't live up to the hype, sadly. It certainly was a pretty shade of pink, though.

                                      Lastly, there was the maple caramel brule. It seemed like it was unable to decided whether it was maple or caramel, making it a nebulous caramel-ish mapley flavour that didn't do much for me. On top of that, the brule flavour was overwhelming and the "chunks" kind of grossed me out, sadly. We finished it eventually, but after the initial few spoonfuls, we started to eat around it.

                                      While I definitely wouldn't write Havre aux glaces off, I think the flavours we picked failed because either they didn't live up to the hype or they were held up to countless other gelato counterparts that we were more well-versed in. I'm very excited to try the strawberry/cheese option as well as the sour cherry/chocolate combination. Don't get me wrong. Everything was still very good, it just didn't knock our socks off like we expected it would.

                                      1. At Havre aux Glaces this weekend, Atwater edition. Small selection of flavours (maybe 10?) but tasty none the less. Grapefruit (very tart and true to the fruit), mango masai (mango, passion fruit, nutmeg...), brulée d'erable (good, very brulée, but tasty), expresso (why do people do that? it's espresso. sigh. No coffee bitterness, nice light coffee flavour), chocolat noir (deliciously creamy, complex flavour), poire cidre (REALLY worth trying - pear. Very true pear taste), vanille (good. a really nice creamy flavour).

                                        Not JTM selection, but, a chance happening. Lucky to have a fraction of the bounty so close to home! Highly recommended, we had three scoops each, approx 3... something. It was a little over ten dollars for the three of us. Reasonable prices for such quality.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: gokkusagi

                                          «expresso (why do people do that? it's espresso. sigh.No coffee bitterness, nice light coffee flavour)»

                                          I mentioned this to them not long after they introduced the flavour. The clerk sighed theatrically -- obviously I wasn't the first complainer -- and pointed me toward Le Petit Robert. And, sorry to say, she's right. LPR has no entry for espresso, only for expresso.

                                        2. I had the chestnut ice cream yesterday. It was wonderful.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: souschef

                                            I tried unsuccessfully to replicate the chestnut ice cream I had there. I used creme anglaise mixed with creme de marrons. It was not "chestnutty" enough, and was a bit grainy from the creme de marrons (at Havre aux Glaces it was smooth). For the flavour I just need more creme de marrons. As for the graininess, I did strain it through a chinois. I was wondering if straining it multiple times would help. Any opinions from the ice cream makers out there (a chinois lined with cheesecloth, or perhaps a different brand of creme de marrons) ?

                                          2. Chocolate wild blueberry sorbet is in, and will probably not last too long.

                                            1. I went back last Sunday especially for the chestnut ice cream. It was not as nice as the last time. This time it was about as good as my attempt. Darn !

                                              1. They have pleurotes (oyster mushroom) ice cream among seasonal offerings. The taste is almost chestnuty with a wonderful smell of mushrooms, not at all scary. Though not sure if I would like to sit down with a pint in front of bad TV. A few bites will suffice, merci!

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: emerilcantcook

                                                  I should try it as I love the combination of chestnuts and wild mushrooms, which I use in a poultry stuffing.

                                                  I once served smoked salmon ice cream as an appetizer. My guests pulled a face, but loved it. It just consisted of smoked salmon and whipping cream whizzed through a food processor, then put into an ice cream maker. Served wth a few nice garnishes, it was delicious.

                                                2. Blood orange sherbet is available now, FYI.

                                                  3 Replies
                                                  1. re: mainsqueeze

                                                    Funny, I was coming in to post the same thing. All their seasonal citrus sherbets are in (lemon, tangerine, clementine, grapefruit and, of course, blood-orange).

                                                    1. re: sweettoothMTL

                                                      How about instead of sherbets, they should try making them into ice creams?

                                                      1. re: sweettoothMTL

                                                        I found the tangerine good in flavour, but a bit sweet. But the blood orange - wow. perfect.