Sunday, May 10, 2009

Eat me!: Queso (cheese!) ice cream -- sarap (yummy)!

Today, in celebration of mother's day, my family and I went over to my aunt and uncle's house for dinner. Since a big chunk of my extended family (12 of them) had just come back from an Alaskan cruise and the dinner had been planned literally on the day of, there was sadly no sugary lasagna or yummy homemade Filipino desserts on the buffet array (I guess I'll have to save those subjects for another time).

Luckily, there was one particular item on the dessert table that I often talk about and don't get to eat enough of -- queso (cheese) ice cream!

Heart2Heart describes queso as "The Pinoy's version of a cheese desset (sic). Fresh cheese blended in creamy, milky sorbetes (sic) and dotted with "cheese" bits as how Pinoys know and love it."

The first time I encountered cheese ice cream, I had the same reaction as what you're probably experiencing now. "Cheese (and corn) ice cream? Seriously?" (This was a Magnolia-brand ice cream not featured above, and was basically the same ice cream dotted with corn bits). It was soooooo good. Unless you hate cheese or are lactose intolerant, you need to try this flavour. Heck, try it even if you don't like cheese -- it's that good. Everyone I know who's tried cheese ice cream has been instantly converted. It's now one of my favourite flavours of ice cream.

Of the three brands I've mentioned (Selecta, Magnolia, and Arce Dairy), I think that
Selecta is the best by far (just look at the picture!!). My mom attests to it, and she's grown up with the brands.

Selecta is an offshoot of Arce Dairy. I don't know why, but it's soooo much better than its parent company. Magnolia is super-popular in Asia. Apparently, people from Hong Kong buy lots and lots when they visit the Philippines, and bring it back with them by packing it in boxes of ice (the flight is short enough for it to last without melting away).
Today was my first chance to t
ry the Arce Dairy version of queso ice cream. It was very good, but it doesn't have the yummy cheese bits and rich creamy texture that Selecta has.

The only place I've seen that sells the Selecta and
Arce Dairy brands of queso ice cream is my uncle's dollar store (the 99 cent store, across from the McDonald's located across from Landsdowne Mall in Richmond). I think that they go for about $11.99 for a litre, and it's well worth trying!

Mais-Queso ice cream by Magnolia is much easier to find -- it's in a lot of the small Filipino shops around Vancouver. If you want just a scoop, you can go to Rekados on Main Street, where I think they sell three scoops as one of their dessert items, one of which is queso. I have no idea what brand it is, however, and it's pretty pricey (over $5). The advantage is that you get to try ube and I think langka-flavoured ice cream as well. I would go for the tub. Look fo
r this, if the thought of corn and cheese intrigues you:

**I will qualify this post by mentioning that a colleague just caught a glimpse of my post and commented that queso ice cream "is nasty and tastes like nacho cheese". I beg to differ, but be warned -- you might not enjoy it as much as I and my relatives do!**

Mango, ube (purple yam), macapuno (coconut), ube-macapuno (purple yam and coconut marble), and langka (jackfruit), are other flavours I would recommend trying.

Are there any interesting/delicious flavours/brands/kinds of ice cream that have particularly impressed you?

La Casa Gelato (the gelato place on Clark and Venables with the insane amount of flavours) has closed, so if you can recommend other spots for neat flavours, please do so!


  1. Interesting. Yet another item on my list of things to try...

    By the way, is ube/purple yam the same thing as taro? If so, where can I try some of it? Does T&T carry some?

  2. That looks delicious! especially the one with corn, yum. I had corn popsicle when I was in Taiwan, but it was just so-so.

  3. No, MJ, ube and taro are completely different, although some brands call them the same thing. I think they're both delicious and worth trying though. T&T sometimes carries ube. I know I've seen it once in the Metrotown location. I don't think the Richmond or downtown locations have it though. Surrey might have it. The Burnaby and Surrey locations carry a wider variety of Asian/ethnic foods.

    Filipino ice cream is more easily found in small Filipino stores (dotted all over Vancouver -- I can point you to some if you want, but I can't say if they for sure carry ube or cheese).

    T&T doesn't carry taro ice cream (I don't know if I've ever seen a store that does), but it definitely carries taro popsicles (there's a brand that makes some that use real taro -- get that one if you find it. It's more gray-brown than purple, and tastes ever so much better!

    Tiff, do you know if they sell corn popsicles in Vancouver? I think I saw some in Richmond - they were a Malaysian brand, though, if I recall correctly. I think they were $3.99 a box.

  4. Actually, yeah, it'd be great if you could point me to some Filipino ice-cream shops. I'm getting ready to show my out-of-town visitor around Vancouver, and I think little secrets of Vancouver like that might be quite nice. She'll have to see all the big sights, too, of course.

  5. Hmm, I'll have to spend a bit more time researching actual names for you, MJ. The big Filipino restaurants are Pin Pin (my cousin's favourite, and the one he thinks is most authentic) on Fraser and I think 43rd, Josephine's (we've been inside) on Main, Goldilock's (on West Broadway, and another on Main), and there's another just off West Broadway and Main that starts with a J, Galing Galing on Burrard, I think, and Kuya's in North Van on Londsdale St., a few blocks away from the Quay. They have a Filipino buffet at Kuya's on Sundays at lunch. The variety's not huge, but it's quite tasty. They have the best halo halo I've tried here (they handmake the ube, pinipig (crushed rice), and leche flan, and use evaporated milk.

    There's Filipino stores on Main, Fraser, and Granville. I just don't know the names. There's one just beside Bellagio's Gelato on Main that's tiny, but every inch of that place is crammed with Filipino goods. I'm sure they have Filipino ice cream there (I've seen it) -- I just don't know which flavours.

  6. Just wanted to add that I HAVE tried taro ice cream before -- I forgot what brand it was. It was at Yaohan Centre at Richmond, and tasted very artificial and had very little flavour. I wouldn't recommend it even if you saw it. It was light purple, and the company only made two flavours of ice cream -- taro and swiss chocolate.

    As for Filipino stores, the area between 28th and 26th on Fraser has a whole bunch -- three restaurants, a bakery, and a store, I believe. There might be more. There's also a Filipino restaurant on 41st and Fraser called Pampanga's Café -- I don't know if it's any good. It's quite small but it has meals and desserts.

    Don't expect all the desserts to be there all the time though. I've found that with most small ethnic restaurants, desserts are only made sporadically, so if they have them while you're there and you've been wanting to try it, get it so you won't be disappointed the next time.

  7. nope taro is different but I like them both