Chin Chin Laboratories, Ice Cream made with Liquid Nitrogen, Camden-London

NOTE: I am in London until the beginning of October, for Berlin Posts, please visit my Berlin, Favourites page or Places I’ve Eaten In 

My old DVD rental place on Haverstock Hill has closed down and an Italian ice cream shop has opened instead. Gelato Mio. In Berlin, Layla and I have a reliable one scoop daily habit that we indulge with a trip across the street to Der Eisladen.

On our first week in London, I took her to Gelato Mio, to provide some consistency to her life. A scoop for me and one for her (dispensed with a paddle because in London they are always trying to re-invent the wheel) came to just under £6.00.I find the ratios often don’t work here. Ice cream = pleasure seems like a logical equation but the real equation (at least for me) is ice cream @x price = pleasure. Once I pass a certain price threshold then I start picking away at the experience and decide it might not be worth it after all.

The balance (as with everything in life) has to be right, so you can charge more but you have to offer something superlative. Morelli’s in Harrods makes some of the smoothest most delicious ice cream I have had anywhere. I don’t give the expense a second thought, I even go down there just for ice cream sometimes.Chin Chin Laboratories was another parlor I knew I had to try. They make ice cream to order using liquid nitrogen to freeze it in a matter of seconds. I’ve been watching Great British Menu for long enough to know all about these new methods of cooking (it had been alarming to me to see that no one seems to cook food on the hob anymore – rather its all sous vide and into the pan at the end for a bit of color).

Much has been made of how smooth ice cream that has been frozen with liquid nitrogen is. I was intrigued to find out. Which is why I went down to Camden Lock, a place I would normally avoid.They have 4 flavors on offer; Pondicherry Vanilla, 80% Valhrona Chocolate, watermelon sorbet with chocolate chips (weirdly that worked) and salty caramel with tobacco. 4 white Kitchen Aid machines stand at the ready, bulbous grey vats containing liquid nitrogen squat behind them. It all happens quickly, the young man dons a thick glove and pours liquid nitrogen into a pot; the liquid nitrogen goes over the custard in the kitchen aid bowl. The counter fills with a cold slow creeping fog of smoke. And then the ice cream is scooped into a black pot with a jaunty, almost hipster quiff.Is it smooth? And is that smoothness worth £3.95?

Well it is smooth. Incredible. It feels like stroking a silky cat’s coat. Or swimming in the slick thick water of the Dead Sea. I take a spoonful and think ‘so smooth’ and wait for the sensation to die off before reaching in again and marveling once more at the smoothness. Of the 3 flavors we are trying, Chocolate, Caramel and Watermelon Sorbet, the creamy custards work best.  For ice cream this smooth, I might even brave Camden Lock one last time before returning to Berlin.  Chin Chin Laboratories
49-50 Camden Lock Place
London NW1 8AF
www.chinchinlabs.com

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