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Sep 4, 2010 01:01 PM

Styles of ice cream in Paris

I realize that we've covered the subject of ice cream many times with each of us having a favorite. But I'd really like to read about the specific character or style of ice cream offered at each of these places.
I only have so many hours to devote to chasing ice cream and so much capacity after I track them

I can start by saying that I prefer a "chewy" ice cream. I used to find it at Dammon's, in the 5th and in the Carrousel du Louvre but he has closed his retail business. Amorino and Grom both serve a softer style than I like. I confess that I haven't tried Berthillon in more than 15 years after finding my initial purchase terribly disappointing.

I'm particularly interested in descriptions of Constant, Martine Lambert and Mary. Or your favorite.

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  1. Mangeur, you may never talk to me again, but I had one from Picard yesterday that was great.

    13 Replies
    1. re: John Talbott

      If you like "chewy", you should go Lebanese. Gum arabic gets one masticating.

      1. re: vielleanglaise

        I was thinking more of eggs and butterfat and colder temps...

        1. re: mangeur

          Yes. And I was refering to Bouza bi Haleeb, Lebanese icecream, available in Paris, and which is thickened with gum arabic.

          FYI premium Sicilian gelato, the best ice cream I've ever eaten, contains no eggs and minimum, sometimes no butterfat.

          Another "chewy" ice cream is koulfi.

          1. re: vielleanglaise

            To build on vielleanglaise's point. "Ice creams" from different parts of the world are made differently and thus have different characteristics.

            Typically French ice cream is custard based or non dairy sorbets. Italian "Gelato" is generally milk based and importantly churned differently to the French style. Gelato tastes denser and more chewy because the churning is slower and there is less overrun (air incorporated in the mix). Gelato is usually 10 to 15% whilst normal ice cream is up to 50%, gelato is usually served "fresh" (and slightly warmer than ice cream) and not stored for long as it changes texture, whilst ice-cream is often stored and "hardened" prior to serving in order to develop.

            All these factors lead to the chewy texture so bottom line is if you like a more chewy one track down good Gelato places as opposed to traditional French places like Berthillion and Le Bac à Glaces. I am surprised Grom didn't hi the spot as it is mostly Gelato, maybe you chose an ice-cream rather than a traditional Gelato on your visit).

            1. re: PhilD

              My problem with much of the "ice cream" I've tried in Paris is that in order to make it easy to scoop or sculpt it is not kept cold enough. The texture I want is perhaps not chewy but toothsome. I want to bite into ice cream, not have it melt in the cup or slide down my throat. My apologies: this is getting quite gross!

              We make ice cream at home regularly, sorbets and yogurts but more often rich custard based flavors. Deep dark chocolate, caramels, coffee, chestnut, mint chip and trendy/trite caramelized bacon, chocolate and guiness (whoohoo!), in the freezer at the moment, sweet corn with chile. Yes, we're nuts.

              But we look to enjoy ice cream in Paris. I'd hoped to get a handle on both the texture of various glace products as well as the best or most characteristic flavor at those places you all enjoyed most. And the name and the address of the shop would be a boon to all.

              1. re: mangeur

                Mazeh, 65 rue des Entrepreneurs (15e), and So Rice, 90, rue Desnouettes (15e). Two Iranian caterers/restaurants (same ownership) which offer delicious Persian ice creams (flavored with rose or saffron). My favorite ice creams at the moment alongside Constant and Berthillon.

                1. re: mangeur

                  I make a lot as well. So isn't your problem that at home you can take the time to wrestle the solid ice cream into a bowl but in ice cream shop they need it at a temperature that makes selling it easy and thus it is a bit softer. Hence the popularity of Gelato shops (even in Paris) because the product is designed to be consumed slightly warmer and thus it will be softer than home made ice cream from the freezer.

                  So if you want the texture in Paris find a Sicilian Gelato place or a middle eastern ice cream maker. Bot have added ingredients that give a chewy texture.

                  1. re: PhilD

                    It's kind of old school, but you can still fInd in some restaurants, and canteens, "sabayons glacés". Correctly made, the whites are separated from the yolks and beaten before being incorporated into the frozen zabaglione and churned. This gives an extra bite to the ice cream.

                    Unfortunately. there are no Sicilian ice cream parlours in Paris. My favourite gelato though is Pozzetto on the rue de la Verrerie. I fear though that it will be too soft for you. They also do one of the best espressos in town.

                    Mangeur, if you're an ice cream aficionado, you should try to make a Sicilian corn starch rinforzata gelato.

                    1. re: vielleanglaise

                      Vielle: I'm doing an article on old school/old boy stuff; could you email me at so we don't clutter this Forum up with minutia but you can give me your version of what it means. Tx

                      1. re: John Talbott

                        For sabayons glacés you might have some luck in the Folies-Bergère perimeter, the Jewish-Tunisian quartier. You know which one - rue de Trévise, rue Richer, rue de la Boule-Rouge, rue du Faubourg-Montmartre, etc. With about three thousand tfina, banatage and fricassé joints in the area it would really be amazing if you could not fish out a sabayon or two.

                2. re: PhilD

                  Interesting you mentioned Grom. My personal favorite flavor is reglisse. Last year both Grom and Berthillon had the reglisse ( licorice ) at same time, so tried both on same day. While the Berthillon passion fruit sorbet is still otherwordly, the reglisse of Grom with its textural components as Phil D mentions was an epiphany, OMG. l am truly addicted to Grom with gift card et all. If it weren't for my hypertension l would by the Grom by the bucket, just superb. Will try some of the mentioned one while in Paris now.

          2. re: John Talbott

            I do agree with John Talbott : try the "caramel au beurre salé" or the Speculoos as well at the "marrons glacés" in winter by Theron at Picard. Very tasty

            1. re: John Talbott

              ;) No problem. I am planning to sneak a 1/4 litre from Eric Kayser back to my room... Will advise.

            2. My favorite is Constant, by and large. I must say I'm still not sure what "chewy" icecream is.

              At the beginning, one of the many things I found wonderful about Constant's icecream was the perfect texture, which I assumed was due to perfect temperature. When you buy Picard or Haagen-Dasz and store them in your freezer, they always end up way too hard to make proper scoops or anything really enjoyable. Not so with Constant, it turns out. The texture is perfect at regular freezer temperatures. How he does it, I have no idea, all the more since there is no secret ingredient: eg the strawberry sorbet has strawberry, lemon and sugar; the vanilla has vanilla, milk, eggs and sugar, etc.

              The purity and intensity of taste is another reason I love Constant. Not only does it taste like what it is, it tastes like a very good what it is -- like excellent strawberry, passion, fruit, chocolate, etc.

              The third thing to enjoy at Constant is the bery high diversity of flavors and the originality of some of them, such as almond milk, cacao-whiskey, etc.

              Sorbets are not too sweet. Icecreams tend to be a bit more so, which is my only reservation (eg caramel, vanilla).

              1 Reply
              1. re: souphie

                Since Soup the Constant ice dealer got me hooked on this hard drug, I'm a goner, no hope, not future.
                I agree wholeheartedly re the texture aspect. I don't know anything about ice cream production (btw, Phil, your take on ice cream is the second Renaissance !). I just know that the ice cream that I like has the kind of texture that is nearly melting but not melting. And it stays on the verge of melting, which proves it is a trick in the production and may not be entirely an issue of temperature regulation...
                If it gets too icy or too hard, one strike you're out.
                If it liquefies immediately, ditto. One doesn't drink one's ice cream, duh.

                Also agree that if an ice cream flavor says it is x, then it should taste intensely x, and should not taste like sweet cold milk with some x thrown in. Again Constant is nirvana.

                Besides the Constant opium, my fave ice cream in Paris is Caramello. My fave floavor there is Mojito (!). I don't try the other flavors, except stealing a half bite from hubby poo's cone. I tend to like the sorbets there: mango, melon, all tasting very mango-y and melon-y.

              2. In the interest of science and saving you all from gratutitous calories, I made a batch of chocolate gelato, using Alice Medrich's Sharfenburger recipe. I didn't have Sharfenburger cocoa on hand so substituted Valhrona.

                Result: Good spoon mold and certainly rich flavor.. BuI find the mouth feel a little thin. Might have thought is a very good diet product.

                So I'll head for Constant. But will certainly also hit Pozzetto. And more.

                Still listening for reports on Martine and Mary...