I was first introduced to Vanille-Marille last summer, by a dear friend who lives near the tiny, pink Steglitz location of this homemade ice cream manufactory. We were gathered around her dining table for lunch when her husband slipped out the door and returned, 15 minutes later, with little cups filled with mango sorbet, dark chocolate ice cream, raspberry sorbet, pink grapefruit and more. We all - aged 74 to 3 - fell silent as we spooned up dessert. My mouth sort of glowed from the inside out - the flavors of the fruit sorbets were clear as bells. The dark chocolate was silky, but not too rich, and packed a huge wallop of pure, well, chocolatiness.
I went back several times last summer, even brought Molly with me when she came to visit. I decided eventually that pear (Birne "Gute Luise") was my favorite flavor of all, having long been smitten by the fruit flavors in particular. Berthillon and Grom may be famous worldwide, but Vanille-Marille could absolutely beat them.
Vanille-Marille opened for the season a few weekends ago so this past weekend, I finally took Max to see what all the fuss was about. We drove to the Kreuzberg location, just around the corner from Mehringdamm, and found a big line. But undeterred, and thrilled to be in the sunshine, we stood and waited our turn. It's just as well to have a little bit of extra time, after all, how could you choose your flavors properly otherwise?
I got Marille aus der Wachau (apricot from Austria) and strawberry with mascarpone, both ice creams, not sorbets. The strawberry was very nice, creamy and speckled with little seeds, but the apricot instantly shot to the top of my list, surpassing even the pear. You know how when you eat a great sorbet, you think to yourself that it tastes even better than the actual fruit its based on? That you'd rather be eating that than the fruit? That's what the apricot ice cream was like.
Max got caramel beurre salé, Madagascar vanilla, and sesame ice cream with caramelized honey. The sesame, in particular, was fabulous. Roasty-toasty, shot through with honey, it was complex but still delicious, a grown-up dessert masquerading as an afternoon snack. I also loved the salted caramel.
There are still so many flavors I want to try, like elderflower-mint or Sicilian pistachio (can it top Grom's stellar pistachio, I wonder?) or marzipan with chocolate, plums and a shot of Schnapps or rhubarb-strawberry with vanilla. But I also just want to keep eating the ones I've already fallen for, to faithfully order apricot and pear each time I return.
What a conundrum, I know. Thank goodness for ice cream season!
Vanille-Marille now sells pint containers filled with single flavors to take home (or bring to a dinner party, lucky ducks).
Hagelberger Straße 1, 10965 Berlin
Leydenalle 92, 12165 Berlin
(030) 789 54 731