Here’s what you might hear: “Smoked apple pie, lemon and lavender, Mexican hot chocolate, hibiscus, and campari and grapefruit.” Not exactly what you’d find on the neighborhood ice cream truck. Jason Borgmann, the owner of Calliope Ice Cream and the artist behind these creations, has a unique eye for flavors that would go just right with the creamy texture of ice cream. You’ve probably seen really wacky ice cream flavors and add-ins, like potato chips, bacon, and pretzels. But Mr. Borgmann’s inventions are not cheap grabs for attention, trying to capitalize on people who are intrigued by the weirdest ice cream ever. They are culinary masterpieces, placing ice cream in the world of very fine dining. So fine that you might not recognize some of the flavors he uses.
Take the beet and orange variety, for example. Neither ingredient is particularly sweet, and you’ve probably never heard of a dessert made with beets. But Mr. Borgmann is a chef, and you can always count on a good chef to have good reasons behind the flavors he chooses. These ice cream flavors aren’t just about sugar and cream; they are about balance, texture, and a myriad of other facets. The earthy, solid texture of the beets, the tangy citrus of the orange, and the sweet, cold base of the ice cream all lock together perfectly to build a finished product that will challenge the way you think about ice cream.
Make no mistake, though: not every one of Chef Borgmann’s flavors is a leap of faith on the taster’s part. Carmelized pear and toasted walnut and honey are two of the most popular varieties. And the newest idea, smoked apple pie, incorporates bacon for a boost of richness and body. These fantastic scoops are available only at the Weary Traveler for now, but there are plans to partner with a Madison pizza parlor and perhaps open a Calliope Ice Cream shop.
If you’re drooling on the keyboard and you’re not fortunate enough to live in Madison, Wisconsin, we’ve got an alternate solution for you: Make your own lavender ice cream at home to see what you think of a truly gourmet dessert. You might have to look around a bit to find edible lavender for sale in your area, but it will be well worth your trouble!