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Desserts to die for

With Movenpick, if it's strawberry ice cream you're eating, you taste real strawberry. And espresso croquant is like eating great coffee. We have come a long way since Joy Ice Cream, haven't we?

Photos: V. Sreenivasa Murthy

Movenpick: where the quest for the perfect ice cream ends

IT'S THE first place I know where the food on the table tastes as good as the gorgeous pictures of the food on the wall. Maybe even better. Movenpick ice creams are to die for. Two bites into one of them and you know your quest for the perfect ice cream has ended. The taste of each is distinct. Most Indian ice creams are like homemade concoctions where you can taste each ingredient separately — the milk, ice, cream, and sugar. With Movenpick, if it's strawberry ice cream you're eating, you taste real strawberry. The espresso croquant is like eating great coffee. And as sinfully rich things go, the famous maple walnut makes for the perfect desert.

For me, the most fabulous thing about Movenpick is that they have sorbets — wonderfully tangy, exotic tasting things, made from ice and fruit pulp — no milk, no cream, no sugar. A terrific alternative to ice creams, they are perfect for summer. Sorbets that take you back to schooldays and crushed ice candy. Except, this is an exquisite version of it. You can choose from a range of them: apricot (my fave), lemon-lime, mango, ananas (an ice cream-sorbet), mango grapefruit, passion fruit, cherry black currant, fruits of the forest, and apple blackberry.

The sundaes begin with the regular double and triple scoops and move on to a six-scoop special. The café special is not an ice cream, but waffles — the legendary Belgian waffle, with maple syrup, with add-ons like fruits and cream.

These gourmet ice creams and sorbets are the real thing: premium Swiss ice creams (directly imported) without additives or artificial preservatives. (Instead of gelatine, they use a gum extract from trees). Owned and run by Shalini Jalan, the Movenpick Ice Cream and Coffee Boutique on St. Marks Road was the first franchise in South India. (Movenpick began in Delhi and there is one now in Chennai). "These boutiques," says Ms. Jalan, "are European style cafes. The entire service area is visible to the customer from any part of the boutique. The customer actually gets to see the entire process of whipping up the sundaes, ice cream sodas, and our specialty coffees. The highlight of this area is also the unique cone-making unit which provides freshly baked cones to the customers."

Ramesh, the manager, observes: "Sorbets seem particular favourites of children and women — in that order. The men seem to mostly stick to ice creams." They now have an excellent sandwich and meal combo section — mainly panini (Italian bread with garlic, olive oil, and herbs) with focaccia and baguette breads.

We have come a long way since Joy Ice Cream, haven't we? Up to the '70s, the only ice cream around was Joy. You could choose between vanilla and pista. In school, one of the things we looked forward to was the annual field trip (pilgrimage?) to the Joy Ice Cream factory. Once inside those freezing units, you were given a free ice cream. A cheaper and more varied alternative to these factory ice creams were those delicious but deadly local ice candies sold outside the school. A huge, dirty block of ice (who cared then?) was shaved and collected in a cup. It was then yanked out in that cup shape with a stick, and three different, colourful flavours were poured on it. (For many years I thought this was a local invention till I found out that these were modelled on Italian ice creams!) In the late '70s, Bangalore had Friendly Ice Cream (does anyone remember them?): they had a different texture — you could taste the ice crystals — and they were the first to feature rum-and-raisin and fig-and-walnut flavours.


This was followed by ice cream parlours: Chit Chat, Lakeview, and Corner House. Chit Chat closed, Lakeview is there, but the one that's still roaring is Corner House. (I don't get Corner House; do you?)

Walls was the first international ice cream presence in India: they brought with them a variety of flavours we had never tasted before. And then with the coming of Baskin and Robbins, we began to get a whiff of what real American ice creams (that we had been drooling over in Archie comics) tasted like. And they were, mercifully, eggless and without gelatin. You have to be grateful to them for that. But it is with Movenpick that the gourmet ice cream experience began.

When I first tried their ice cream, I balked at the price — 45 bucks for a single scoop! I had had the ananas and I remember thinking it was terrific, but the cost prevented me from fully appreciating what I had just eaten. A month later, I began to crave for that particular taste again — that exquisite combination of ice cream and sorbet. And so I made tentative (but planned) trips to Movenpick, always telling myself this would be the last time. But then I always returned for more.

My visits became more frequent, and for the life of me I couldn't stop with one scoop. Soon I had run through all the flavours. And began to speak — no, evangelise — about these ice creams to family and friends. These days I am not even aware of what they cost. The way I see it: why not splurge on something excellent once in a while than settle for something that is less expensive and not as great tasting? It's Rs. 85 for a double scoop and Rs. 120 for a triple. The sundaes range from Rs. 130 to Rs. 170. They have mini-specials at Rs. 65. They also serve ice cream shakes and soda floats.

Movenpick is located at Sophia's Choice, St. Mark's Road, and can be contacted on 2996855/2996866.

PRADEEP SEBASTIAN

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