Food News

Merlot Ice Cream This Saturday at Under the Stars Food & Wine Festival

While New Times' intrepid food critic explores her local options for beer-flavored ice cream -- and while we're on the subject, I say this without judgment, but Budweiser?! -- and other assorted goods flavored with the nectar of the gods, Sara Bogotch will be introducing attendees at the Under the Stars Food & Wine Festival to the wonders of ice cream melded with wine. But, seeing as the festival is hosted at the South Florida Science Museum in West Palm Beach, this isn't just any boozy-flavored sweet treat you would whip up in your own kitchen; it's made with science.

Bogotch, lead educator at the SFSM, said in an email interview Monday that she uses liquid nitrogen -- a mainstay in the molecular gastronomy movement -- to create a Merlot-flavored ice cream that will be offered to festivalgoers at the event, planned for 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday at the museum. 

Bogotch will be making fresh batches of the Merlot ice cream at the event so you can get a gander at -- and a taste of -- the science-lab-meets-ice-cream-parlor antics: "I make an ice cream mixture with half and half, cream, sugar, and Merlot and then pour liquid nitrogen over it to freeze the mixture into an ice cream consistency," she wrote. Liquid nitrogen, she notes, clocks in a verrry frosty -320F/-196C. That temp can do a lot of damage to your skin and other organs unless you know what the hell you're doing -- we're talking, like totally aced your college chemistry classes -- so, maybe don't try this one at home. That noted, this ice cream is perfectly safe to eat.

Bogotch says you can taste the Merlot in the ice cream, but "it doesn't overpower the flavor." She also said that while heating wine indeed "cooks off" the alcohol content, to her knowledge, the same cannot be said for freezing, so the alcohol is still there. "However, you would have to eat a lot of the ice cream to feel the same effect as you would feel from a regular glass of wine, since there are so many ingredients mixed in," she said. Hmmm.....challenge accepted?

What about those antioxidants and resveratrol benefits we get from red wine? Can we find those in Merlot ice cream? "You probably get more of the ice cream benefits than the red wine benefits," Bogotch said in her emailed response. Fair enough. Ice cream benefits are probably underrated anyway.

Although Bogotch, the Merlot ice cream maker for the evening, doesn't have any culinary background, she said, "I do love science experiments -- especially when food is involved." As an educator at SFSM, she's been making liquid nitrogen ice cream for about two years, typically for kids. She sticks to vanilla, chocolate, and the occasional Oreo for the youngsters. Saturday's Merlot came about when a friend saw Merlot ice cream on a restaurant menu and Bogotch wanted to try it out as liquid nitrogen creation. Her coworkers liked the first batch she experimented with, and the festival will be the first truly public appearance.

The Merlot ice cream debut is part of Saturday's festival, which will also include samplings of wine (in regular ol' liquid form) and food from local restaurants and vendors. Admission is $20 for museum members and $25 for nonmembers. Buy online in advance and knock $5 off the price.

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Tricia Woolfenden