Always Bet on Black at iHalo Krunch

iHalo CrunchLocation: 318 Queen Street West (inside Lululemon)
Websitehttps://www.ihalokrunch.com/

I’m very late to the party on the charcoal cones at iHalo Krunch.   But hey, if you’re curious about that thing you saw all over Instagram last year, here I am to talk about it ridiculously late.

Would it surprise you to hear that this Instagram-famous ice cream cone is all style, no substance?  Because at this point, it probably shouldn’t.

It’s fine — but of course, the most interesting thing about it is the way it looks.

iHalo Crunch

I ordered the black on black, which is coconut flavoured soft serve made jet black thanks to “activated charcoal” (which is basically edible charcoal with some alleged health benefits) served in a charcoal cone.

The ice cream has a pleasant coconut flavour, but there’s really not much to it.  It’s also way too thin, with a distinct lack of creaminess.

The cone is fine. It’s a cone that happens to be black.  Nothing else about it stands out.

And of course, I don’t think I saw anyone order it and not take a photo, because why else would you order this thing?  It’s essentially an edible prop.

FYI: Tom’s Dairy Freeze is Closing for the Season Soon

Tom's Dairy FreezeLocation630 The Queensway, Etobicoke
Websitehttp://www.tomsdairyfreeze.ca/

…Specifically, it’s closing in just over a couple of weeks, on the 25th of November.  So you should probably head over there while you still can.

Yes, it’s starting to get a bit chilly outside, so an ice cream joint with no indoor seating probably isn’t too high on your list of priorities.  But delicious is delicious — cold schmold.

I just tried the Jack and Jill sundae, which features vanilla soft serve topped with chocolate and marshmallow sauces.  The soft serve was as creamy and tasty as ever, and the chocolate/marshmallow combination is a clear winner.

Top-Notch Gelato at Piccolina Gelato

Piccolina GelatoLocation: 85 Portland Street, Toronto
Websitehttps://piccolina-gelato-e-altra-roba.business.site/

Piccolina Gelato is a tiny little ice cream shop (it’s about the size of a large walk-in closet) that sells gelato and soft serve ice cream.

Maybe it’s because it’s such a small and unassuming space, but my expectations weren’t particularly high.

I was pretty blown away by how good it was.

Piccolina Gelato

I had the chocolate hazelnut, and man, it was good.  It was maybe a touch too sweet, but aside from that it was first-class gelato.

The texture was amazing — it was rich, silky, and incredibly creamy.  It was profoundly satisfying, and certainly, right up there with the best in the city in that regard.

The flavour was almost as good.  It had a very assertive chocolate/hazelnut flavour that was quite Nutella-esque.  It also had a very generous amount of nut pieces and chocolate chips that helped to amp up the flavour and the texture.

Honestly, aside from the sweetness thing (a minor complaint), everything about it was great.  I really, really enjoyed it.

Bizarre Pizza at Big Trouble Pizza

Big Trouble PizzaLocation: 235 Spadina Avenue, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.bigtroublepizza.com/

The dessert pizza at Big Trouble Pizza — called the Butter Jam Jam — is quite odd.  It features raspberry jam, butter cream, bocconcini cheese, mozzarella cheese, balsamic reduction, and lemon zest.

It sounds kinda absurd, and… yeah, it’s absurd.  I was hoping it would be one of those things that sounds weird but is actually great; no such luck.

Big Trouble Pizza

It’s not bad, though.  It’s generally tasty enough — all of the components are good — but the flavours/textures never quite cohere in any meaningful way.  It’s a little too salty for something that’s supposed to be a dessert, and nothing about it particularly pops.

Big Trouble Pizza

It tastes like something you might whip up in a moment of bizarre inspiration (perhaps under the influence of a certain substance that was just legalized) and then, once you actually try it, never make again.

Still, I didn’t dislike eating it, I guess.  And the crust was actually quite good, with a light exterior crispiness, and a pleasantly chewy interior.  It definitely makes me want to go back and try one of the traditional pizzas.

Problematic Gelato at Kekou Gelato

Kekou GelatoLocation: 394 Queen Street West, Toronto
Websitehttps://www.kekou.ca/

Though ice cream and gelato joints serving Asian-inspired flavours seem to be popping up on an almost weekly basis, I’m pretty sure Kekou is the OG.  It might not be the pioneer in the city, but it was definitely one of the first.

They have a variety of unique flavours like black sesame, Vietnamese coffee, and durian (and they must also be doing other things with durian, because the place kinda reeks of the stuff).

Kekou Gelato

I went with rosewater pistachio, and the flavour was superb.  The balance between the nutty pistachio and the fragrant rosewater was just right; neither flavour overwhelmed the other, and they complimented each other perfectly.

The texture, however, was a bit of an issue.  It wasn’t icy, but it had a thin mouthfeel and a distinct lack of creaminess that was unsatisfying.

Kekou Gelato

The funny thing is, they actually have a sign up in the store explaining that the thin texture is intentional — it is, they claim, a side-effect of the gelato’s lack of stabilizers.

A couple of things about this:

1)

2) Even if this is true — that it’s impossible to make creamy gelato without the use of stabilizers, and that every luxuriously creamy gelato I’ve ever had (both here and in Italy) used some form of chemical magic for its rich texture — then maybe stabilizers are just part of making high quality gelato?

Again, I’m skeptical that this is the case, but I’m sure that making truly great gelato is a skill that takes years to master.  If your gelato-making know-how isn’t advanced enough to make it creamy without using stabilizers, then here’s an idea: use stabilizers.  Is the ability to smugly claim that your gelato is stabilizer-free really worth selling a subpar product?

It’s not a huge deal — and I’ve certainly had worse — but the fact that they’re coming right out and admitting that they’re selling inferior gelato on purpose is a little bit frustrating.