This is not a burrito review. In fact it’s so far removed from a burrito that you could be forgiven for stopping reading now. Please don’t. I have to admit that the connection is spurious but it was so delicious and so much fun that I wanted to share today’s culinary adventure with you all.
Today we went to Chin Chin Labs. It’s been on my radar since it opened but I tend to avoid Camden as I hate getting trodden on by tourists. Chin Chin Labs launched to great fanfare and childlike awe last year. If you’ve not been yet then it’s the one you read about, the place that freezes ice cream with liquid nitrogen. Each week they make, in addition to their stalwart vanilla and chocolate varieties, a flavour of the week. This week is the turn of Mexican caramel - hence its inclusion here.
I’ve been following Chin Chin Labs on Twitter (more informative than their website) and they always let you know what that week’s flavour is. I was recently tempted by jasmine & lychee sherbert but it took a Mexican inspired flavour to actually drag my sorry arse to Camden.
The shop is small, but large enough to sit in (and there are tables outside). We decided against breakfast and headed there earlyish. We had talked about grabbing a burrito for lunch at Daddy Donkey or the Wahaca van but at the risk of spoiling the ending of this story we couldn’t manage anything after the ice cream.
Dr Chimpington & I both went for the Cajeta Mexican Caramel icecream. Before mixing and freezing it in front of our eyes the refreshingly enthusiastic ice cream boffin described how they made it and what went into the ice cream. Caramel, vanilla and cinnamon sounded pretty darn good. Goat’s milk less so. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE goat’s cheese but was less convinced that it would work in an ice cream. We were advised that it was rich and we apologised in advance for wolfing it down – I always feel a bit guilty when I greedily gobble something that has taken a long time to create.
The ice cream we were about to eat had taken over four hours to create but it was still in liquid form. LIQUID! I have made loads of ice cream so I know how long it takes to freeze. This was going to be interesting.
On went the goggles and a huge glove and over to the big canister (*shrugs* I’d make a terrible chemist, not sure what it’s actually called) and our boffin started to pour liquid nitrogen into a juggy thing. This, in liquid form, is dangerous stuff and not for the faint hearted (or for wusses like myself).
It’s hard not to squeal when you see the crisp cold clouds billowing out all over the place, I know it’s all a bit theatrical but it really is worth it. The gas was wooshed over the liquid ice cream which had been poured into a kenwood cheffy type thing. The mixer was switched on and, what emerged was a smooth ice cream. Despite being giddily distracted by the fluffy clouds of gas I was impressed by the sheer speed at which the ice cream froze.
The next stage is to pick a sauce and a topping. I ignored advice and went for the salted caramel (I can’t resist salted caramel) and a caramelised pretzel. Dr Chimpington did not ignore advice and went for a blueberry compote sauce and toasted white chocolate crumbled over the top.
Oh My God. The ice cream was GORGEOUS. Rich and caramelly with lovely bursts of cinnamon. There was none of the goaty tang I was worried about – just a gloriously smooth texture and a complex caramel. I’m glad I went with the salted caramel* but have to admit that the sharpness of blueberry worked really well too.
I might have been drawn in my the promise of geeky theatrics but if this place was just about empty dramatic gestures it wouldn’t work. They make BLOODY awesome ice cream too. I grumbled about how the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was too sweet last week at the Ben & Jerry’s Sundae in the park. Yes, this ice cream was rich (boy was it rich) but it didn’t have the claggy cloying sweetness that spoils most ice cream you get.
I definitely recommend this place. Yes, the beakers and test tubes are fun but that isn’t why I’m going to go back. It’s not just a gimmick, they serve stonking ice cream and they serve it with a lovely mixture of charm and enthusiasm.
*so much so that I bought a bottle. Yup, they sell some of the sauces and toppings too. Mine needs heating in the microwave but I stupidly forgot to ask for how long (or at what temperature) but BY JOVE in the name of science I shall experiment and I shall work it out!
I’ll sort the photos out properly later. These will have to do in the meantime. They’re not meant to be on top of each other and, more importantly, the captions are on the wrong pictures DUR