My final working lunch while in the Philippines took place in one of my company's customer cafeterias. The food itself was unremarkable and mostly westernized. The highlight of the meal actually came afterward. Earlier in my visit, I had mentioned that I wanted to try Filipino "dirty" ice cream, especially the cheese flavor. Of course it isn't actually dirty. The name refers to home made ice cream that's sold by street vendors from carts (some are push, some motorized). At the end of our meal. Eric spotted an ice cream vendor making his way around the factory cafeteria and summoned him over.

The vendor had a selection of mango, cheese, and purple yam ice creams, available in either cup or cone. Eric and Alex ordered me a cone of cheese ice cream and a bowl with the remaining flavors. The vendor must have misunderstood because he handed me my cone and then proceeded to make up three full bowls containing several small scoops of each of the flavor - all for less than $1 US.

First up was the cheese ice cream. Not knowing anything about the production of cheese ice cream, I had assumed that they somehow made it cheese flavored by incorporating a soft cheese into the original mix while cooking it. I was completely wrong. Filipino cheese ice cream is basically vanilla ice cream with chunks of cheddar cheese mixed in! It sounds like a strange combination, but something about the sweetness of the ice cream and the saltiness of the cheddar cheese come together to produce something that's quite tasty. It should be easy enough to make at home with my ice cream maker. I'm planning to try it out on unsuspecting dinner guests at some point.

The second ice cream I tasted was the mango. As expected, it tasted just like mango. Filipino dirty ice cream is a lot less creamy than most American ice creams, probably due to the use of less milk/cream and more water. It's not quite as icy as sherbet or sorbet, though.

The final ice cream was the purple yam flavor. It was bright purple in color, and had didn't have a particularly strong yam flavor. It was sweet, but I just couldn't detect any more than the subtlest of yam flavor. It was still good, though, and I'd definitely try it again. In fact, I'd try any of the flavors again as they were all good, and didn't leave me with that heavy feeling you get from eating creamier ice cream.

Comments (Comment Moderation is enabled. Your comment will not appear until approved.)
Karen's Gravatar Aha! So you've discovered our sorbetes! Most of what they sell on the street is home-made. If you've gone to the provinces, they would most likely have some from some fresh fruits.

During the Philippine summer, a regular flavour would be atis (sugar apple) ice cream.
# Posted By Karen | 10/1/05 8:12 AM
stef's Gravatar i was sent over here with karen. happy to hear you're enjoying our filipino food! i hope you don't mind, i've put links to your reviews on my website beyondadobo.com. enjoy your stay!
# Posted By stef | 10/1/05 8:21 AM
PoPMasterFlash's Gravatar Dirty Ice cream, Cool. Did you try halo-halo as well?
# Posted By PoPMasterFlash | 10/1/05 12:47 PM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Thanks Karen and Stef, and thanks Stef for linking to my blog. I really enjoyed my stay this time around ;-)

PMF, not halo-halo this time for me, just didn't have the time. Also didn't quite make it to the one last dish I wanted to try - the pork blood stew (can't remember the name off hand). Next time!
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 10/2/05 12:54 AM
IamJacksBrain's Gravatar I've tried Japanese ube [purple yam] ice cream before, and it only tasted starchy. The cheese ice cream sounds odd, but interesting. Was the cheese shredded?
# Posted By IamJacksBrain | 10/10/05 8:32 PM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Starchy is a good description.

As for the cheese ice cream, the cheese was actually in chunks!
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 10/11/05 1:25 AM
IamJacksBrain's Gravatar Ack, chunks sound dubious.
# Posted By IamJacksBrain | 10/11/05 2:39 AM
Raissa's Gravatar Oh wow! Glad to know you enjoyed our "sorbetes". I miss the cheese flavor. There are other flavors as well.. the corn is a good one and so is the avocado.

the pork blood stew is called "dinuguan". You are really brave to try that =) But trying the "balut" is the bravest thing I believe.
# Posted By Raissa | 11/15/05 1:35 PM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Thanks Raissa,

Next time I'm in the Philippines, I definitely plan to try the dinuguan. I'll check out those other ice cream flavors too. They sound interesting ;-)
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 11/16/05 7:28 PM
shamae's Gravatar dinuguan and balut are too delicious for me,,.. :) coz im a pure filipina,, and specially those dirty ice creams!! for only 5 pesos each! thats 9cents (us dollars) each... its so affordable!!!
# Posted By shamae | 5/31/06 2:58 AM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Hi Shamae,

You've got that right, dining in the Philippines can be hard to beat for value. We have a couple of Filipino restaurants here in Phoenix, but it's just not the same.
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 5/31/06 8:53 AM
Julsitos's Gravatar if you want near-authentic filipino flavors in the US, go for Mitchell's ice cream along Mission Drive, SanFo. well, it's not sorbetes consistency but, yup, they have most of the flavors here in the philippines -buko, macapuno, ube, mango, etc.

http://www.mitchellsicecream.com/
# Posted By Julsitos | 6/1/06 1:33 AM
Rob Brooks-Bilson's Gravatar Looks good, Julsitos. Next time I visit San Francisco, I'm going to have to make a stop over at Mitchell's. Thanks!
# Posted By Rob Brooks-Bilson | 6/1/06 8:35 AM
ceecee's Gravatar Thank you for this explanation. I came across the term dirty ice cream and just HAD to find out what it was. When you mentioned the cheese one I thought, GROSS but as you talked about the sweetness and saltiness it brought apples and cheese or chocolate and pretzels to my mind and actually sounds really good. Thanks for a great definition.
# Posted By ceecee | 12/3/08 12:49 PM
Michelle Engelken's Gravatar hey! so you like our dirty ice-cream in the Philippines. I am living now in the US and I miss eating sorbetes. I made a video about the "dirty ice-cream" vendors. Makes me remember the time i was in the Philippines and eating sorbetes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=77e8J3-KSjU
# Posted By Michelle Engelken | 6/14/09 11:44 AM
sweetgiftsphilippines's Gravatar Wow i miss dirty ice cream or sorbetes.... like cheese flavor. Try dinuguan of bicol you will love it.
# Posted By sweetgiftsphilippines | 8/7/09 4:26 PM



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