When Ice Cream Gets Dangerous

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Occasionally we make a flavor for a restaurant that I think is perfect. But it's only perfect for a restaurant. East Coast Grill, the famous restaurant in Cambridge's Inman Square just up the street from us, occasionally has "Hotter-than-Hell" nights, when they make (almost) everything scary hot: the food and the drinks. They just needed a spicy dessert. We made mango habanero ice cream for them, but to do it we wore safety goggles and gloves. The steam from cooking the peppers would aggravate your eyes, and any of the hot stuff that got on your hands was a menace to life and limb.

Quentin is the pastry chef of Restaurant La Voile on Newbury Street. Critics and informed eaters, including our very own curator, like La Voile a lot, and some think it is the best French restaurant in Boston. Quentin asked for an oatmeal ice cream. At first I didn't understand what he wanted. Eventually we made an oatmeal infusion with Scottish oatmeal, from which we then we sieved out all the oatmeal. Before sieving we had a very good breakfast cereal and after sieving we had a wonderful suggestion of oatmeal and oats. The ice cream was served with a tart.

Our most unusual flavors are made for restaurants, which serve them as elements of complicated desserts. Very few people want an oatmeal ice cream cone, or a ginger rose petal sundae. But some do, and the sophisticated flavors work in appropriate settings.

I think I may try to do something myself with vegetable sorbets, though, sooner or later. If we succeed in making vegetables into sorbets we like, we can sell them to adventurous eaters and restaurants. Vegetable sorbets are available in France and Italy. Our "spring sorbet" is made with cucumbers, although it has become much more popular since we changed the name from cucumber sorbet.

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Gus Rancatore is the co-founder of Toscanini, the Cambridge-based shop that The New York Times said makes "the best ice cream in the world." Learn more at www.tosci.com.

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