Thursday, June 5, 2008

Things you give up for Tango....

Man Yung and I started learning tango because we had some free time and we wanted to learn something new and fun that we could do together. Little did we know that our little diversion would turn into this great big part of our lives that would occupy all our time and our thoughts and take us all the way to Argentina, a country that we never, ever envisioned of visiting.

If you are spending your precious time now reading this (and other) tango blogs, you probably understand what I'm saying when I say that TANGO is LIFE ALTERING. The list of things that people would (and have) given up for tango is astounding. All that furniture in your house impeding your tango practice space? Sell it all in a garage sale, and use the proceeds towards brand new wooden flooring for the new dedicated "tango nook" in your home. Non-Tango friends? Non-Tango husband/wife and children? You don't have time for them anymore if you are trasnochando-ing all night at the milongas weekend after weekend and traveling to Buenos Aires for weeks at a time for tango bootcamp at DNI - I'd say all sorts of divorces are in order. Have a promising career with steady income but staid, boring old 9 to 5 just doesn't mesh with the new spiritual mindset of your Tango lifestyle? Do a Marina Palmer, give it all up and dance for change on Avenida Florida!

Luckily, Man Yung and I haven't had to make many sacrifices for the sake of tango (the last time I checked I'm still at my job) but there's one thing we won't be able to do soon in the foreseeable future because of Tango. We're already committed to a trip to Buenos Aires in March 2009 for the Camicando festival - there's so many people we've promised to see - and we're at the stage where we can't even imagine going anywhere else with our precious vacation days (and precious vacation money) EXCEPT Buenos Aires.

This means that we aren't very likely to be here anytime soon:

Before Tango, we used to talk about all the places we wanted to travel to - Florence, Rome, London, Moscow, Tokyo - and about the trips we'd take looking for Bourbon distilleries in Kentucky, Scotch distilleries in Scotland etc.

But our most favourite, favourite place of all was Paris.

We had two wonderful trips there, but we won't be going there again soon as we must go to Buenos Aires. Thinking about Paris, Man Yung would sigh and say he misses the culture, the streets, the museums, the art, the quiet green parks, the architecture, the concerts in the cathedrals, the views of the Seine etc.

I can rhapsodize about the same things too - but who am I kidding?

What I REALLY miss is Berthillon ice cream.

Berthillon ice cream shop on the Ile-Saint-Louis in Paris

In the far distant days of my youth, I once stayed an entire month and a half with my aunt and uncle who lived (and still lives) in Paris. They were the ones who introduced me to Berthillon ice cream.

One taste, and I was hooked for life. Where else can you find a glace de chocolat noir that tastes more chocolate than chocolate? A sorbet de mangue more mango-ey than a bursting ripe mango straight from the tree? Or a glace de vanille that inspires dreams of flight in pale golden, soft, fragrant vanilla scented ice cream clouds years after you took the last bite?

I spent almost every single day of my stay in Paris walking three hours from my aunt and uncle's apartment in the 15th arrondissement near the Place du Commerce to the Ile-Saint-Louis in the 4th arroundissement for two scoops of Berthillon's ice cream. If that isn't passion I don't know what is.

Nope, none of the ice cream specialists here in Toronto can compare - and I apologize, but reknowned Freddo and Una Alta Volta in Buenos Aires doesn't quite make the cut either (although they are both very good).

What I have given up for Tango is Berthillon ice cream...

(cut to sound of teeny-tiny violins playing a tinky-tanky sad music)

Well, that is, until I decided to be pro-active about it, and MAKE MY OWN ICE CREAM! I did some research on the web, and apparently, all you really need to make ice cream like Berthillon are the following:

1. All real and natural ingredients with no preservatives and nothing artificial. You know, like real cream, real chocolate, real eggs, real (ripe) fruit...

2. An ice cream maker that operates by mechanically turning the canister instead of the beater. This results in a less airy ice cream, but there is more flavour precisely because there is less air (commercial ice cream makers call the extra volume you get by beating a heck of a lot of air into your ice cream "overrun" - and you can have up to 120% overrun in some commercial ice creams). Less air also means that the ice cream is less likely to go into "shock" in the freezer within a few days of making it, resulting in a lot of crunchy, tasteless and distracting ice crystals.
For my ice cream making endeavour, I chose the Cuisinart ICE-30BCC.

The Cuisinart ICE-30BCC churning Pistachio ice cream

3. A copy of David Lebovitz's ice cream recipe book "The Perfect Scoop". This man is an ice cream/dessert genius. Not to mention a very funny blogger. And his salted butter caramel ice cream recipe (available only on his blog) makes a caramel ice cream which is allegedly superior than Berthillon's!

I have only had my ice cream maker for a week, but I have already made a honey vanilla ice cream (recipe from the internet - way too sweet), Vietnamese coffee ice cream, Chocolate sorbet (both from David Lebovitz's book - both absolutely delicious and it's the first time I have had a chocolate ice cream that matches Berthillon's glace de chocolate noir in intensity) and, Man Yung's current favourite, which I think is even better than Berthillon:

Durian ice cream


2 cups of heavy cream
one package of individually quick frozen durian (yields about 1 to 1 1/2 cups of durian paste)
1 cup of half and half
1 300 ml can of sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
1 tablespoon of vanilla extract

Remove seeds from durian and mash flesh into paste.
Whisk all ingredients together thoroughly to form a smooth liquid batter. Freeze according to the ice cream maker's instructions.

This recipe yields about 2 litres of scrumptious, sweet, creamy, fragrant durian ice cream. And because the durian quotient is not too high, you are less likely to make sensitive tangueros and tangueras run screaming for the exits.

Still, enjoying this lovely dessert at any of your local milongas is not entirely recommended.


toronto argentine tango associates inc said...

Hi Irene & Man Yung,
How about some wonderful ice cream at the milonga on one hot summer Friday night. If possible I could help you make it. I don't know about Durian though I'm willing to try it. Perhaps Durian has that xtra special ingredient for "energy".

Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear PK,

You are quite right about Durian's extra special ingredient for energy, it is one of Man Yung's secret weapons for dancing endurance in the milonga, along with all our special herbal soups and plenty of Chi Gung.


Unknown said...

Mostly I give up sleep for tango. Despite having to work early most Saturday and Sunday mornings there I am dancing Friday and Saturday nights. Sundays are pretty ugly considering how mentally and physically tired I am.

Every Saturday night I think I am too tired to dance but as soon as I hear the music I am revitalised and all I want to do is dance.

So yes sleep is what I give up and probably a few brain cells too.

jantango said...

Irene and Man Yung,
I share your love of Paris, so living in the "Paris of South America" is wonderful and cheaper.

Try Saverio on San Juan in San Cristobal or Jumbo on Rivadavia in Caballito for ice cream during your next visit. The little family run shops are excellent.


Irene and Man Yung said...

Dear Janis,

Thanks for the ice cream store recommendations, we will definitely check them out the next time we are in town!

Irene and Man Yung

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