Häagen-Dazs Ultimate Tasting Booth

Scott Wallace
13th May 2016

Ice cream is serious business. Worry no more about picking out the flavour that’s right for you, because the good people at Häagen-Dazs have concocted a special experience designed to help you find a selection of ice cream flavours that are perfect for your palate and personal tastes.

At Häagen-Dazs’ pop-up at Overseas Passenger Terminal at The Rocks, the by-appointment-only Ultimate Tasting Booth is a learning experience and a dining experience. You’ll learn about how perceived flavour is informed by visuals, and about the complex balance of tastes that inform each person’s individual palate.

As the very attentive Ryan explained to us, Häagen-Dazs began in Brooklyn in 1961, differing (to this day) from many ice cream brands through its dedication to simplicity and authenticity of ingredients. Many of the flavours on their menu have as few as five ingredients – sugar, eggs, cream, and milk, plus some natural and very tasty flavourings.

The first part of the Ultimate Tasting Booth experience is one of the most exciting. Presented with flavour pearls in three colours, you’re invited to identify the flavour of each one. Prepare to be surprised, because you may taste them over and over again and still not pick what the flavours are.

Next, you’ll learn about your sensitivity to certain tastes. Water flavoured sweet, salty and sour (it’s a mystery which is which) will prove a challenge to your tastebuds as you try to pick them out of a line-up that slowly increases in intensity. It’s all part of the process to find your perfect flavour, and it’s very fun too.

Finally, after giving your palate a warm-up, out comes the ice cream in all its glory. We tried three of Häagen-Dazs’ signature flavours – vanilla, strawberries and cream and green tea. The three were drastically different, from the delicate and smooth vanilla, the enticingly tangy and delicate strawberries and cream, and the strong, woody green tea. Ryan explained to us that the green tea is extremely popular in certain markets, particularly Asia, but has proven to be fairly divisive in Australia. If you’re not really feeling a particular flavour during your Ultimate Tasting, make it known, because it’s all part of the process.

After a quick quiz of your favourite non-frozen desserts, it’s finally decision time. Three flavours are presented to you in beautifully formed quenelles atop nests of complimentary additions. One of the most beautiful is the raspberry sorbet (which had me humming a certain Prince song), which is a rich, vibrant red and sits atop Persian fairy floss dusted with dehydrated raspberry. Interestingly, after briefly swapping plates with my companion for a taste, I found myself wanting to return to my own plate – proof that the flavour selection process works.

By the end of our tasting session, we had tried all but two of the flavours on the menu, one of which was sold out. Even the flavours that didn’t necessarily make our tastebuds sing were special, combining flavour and texture in a way that one doesn’t normally expect from ice cream. Häagen-Dazs’ Ultimate Tasting Booth experience is not just delicious, but also fascinating and illuminating too.

The best part is, the experience is only $20 per person, which is fantastic given the personal service and the sheer volume of product provided. Häagen-Dazs House is open until Saturday the 21st of May from 12pm to 11pm each day. Do not miss out. Book via the Häagen-Dazs website.