Salted Caramel’s Earl Grey (left) and Salted Caramel (right), served on a waffle bowl.
WITH EVERY step I took towards our destination, it started to feel like whatever ioata of being a food critic wannabe I had in me was slowly melting away, much like artisanal ice cream sliding down the surface impressions on a waffle (cone) bowl.
I felt unworthy in the presence of someone who has succinct opinions of practically every gastronomic establishment on the stretch of Upper Thomson Road, his words buoyed by the waves of the no-nonsense tone of a stern father. At one point, he summarized one place in just one word that conjured up a vivid image in my head: I would be better off chewing on a piece of cardboard than any pricey item on the menu. He was not complaining about the price, he clearly has strong feelings about “getting what you pay for.”
One establishment that got high praise from Michael was this burger-and-beer place called FAT BOY’S. We shall come back for the tall, stacked burger. All the beer-drinking ill be left to Michael though.
See what I mean about the beer?
My good friend Michael is back after a five–month assignment at the home of the growing Lujiazui skyline – a place I last beheld about eight years ago. We find ourselves on this stroll on Upper Thomson Road as I finally take him up on his offer to introduce me to one of the best artisanal ice cream places in the island city. I usually walk double time, but somehow, the thought of the anticipated gratification necessitated a little more delay. The pace just had to be leisurely. Besides, I was carefully taking down mental notes, crafting a roadmap to conquer this seeming slice of gastronomic heaven.
When we started our walking tour, Michael politely called me out on my start-and-stop stride as I snapped away images on my Blackberry Bold 9780. Before I could even attempt to rationalize my actions as my knack for really documenting my adventures, he was equally quick to surmise that a blog post was probably already taking form in my head. I would’ve understood – and honestly waited – if any brewing impatience would take the form of him scratching his head or gnashing his teeth but instead he offered that I use his Samsung Galaxy S3. “It would take better images.”
Anything in colorful font stops me on my tracks. So I just had to take an image of this blackboard that enumerated the “Flavours Today” in colorful (handwritten) block capitals. I finished taking my snaps and asked, “Where to?”
I saw the sign and it said, “Salted Caramel.”
Reading through this colorful “Flavours Today” menu board was enough to make anybody’s blood sugar shoot up with happiness. I was breathless in anticipation.
“Surprise me” was the theme of this ice cream treat. Michael took care of all the ordering.
The place was packed, its off–white interiors offering the illusion of the space appearing larger than it really is. My generous host of a friend asked me to secure our seats while he took care of ordering an array of scoops he thought to be my best introduction to the place. The only decision he had to trouble me with was – waffle bowl or waffle cone? I saw a table against the wall and went for the save – not only was it packed but the queue was long also.
The ice cream makes it to the table!
Soon enough, ice cream so fresh I swear they could’ve only come straight from the udders of cows finally made their landing. Smarting under the lash of reality check that I wasn’t the smarter foodie at the table, I made a last-ditch effort to salvage whatever self-respect remained. Essentially by trying to sound smart. Hahaha!
“People haven’t really been salting their caramel until fairly recently. So how long has Salted Caramel been here?”
Michael, who lives nearby, estimated the ice cream house’s emergence to a couple of years back. He went on to introduce to me the four scoops he ordered for us to share.
Michael’s favorites Stout & Chocolate and Rum & Raisin
“You don’t drink. But I hope that you’re not allergic to alcohol. Here we have Stout & Chocolate, and Rum & Raisin. This bowl has Earl Grey, like the tea, and the house signature, the namesake Salted Caramel. I like the Stout & Chocolate. It is usually stronger than this. I think that (another shop’s name) was the first to infuse alcohol into ice cream. But it was Salted Caramel that perfected it.”
A very Michael thing to do – once only a little of the ice cream is left, he crumbles the waffle bowl into the paper cup in one quick squashing action very similar to abruptly closing a book shut.
And everything indeed was perfect. I mean, you cannot call something artisanal – a fact proudly brandished by this shop just beneath its name – and expect everything to be technically perfect. The profundity of Salted Caramel’s ice cream’s scrumptious beauty and flavors lies in the promise of homemade fresh goodness served in classic and spiked interpretations – Vanilla is comfortably juxtaposed with Stout & Chocolate.
When you find these scoops melting into each other in a waffle bowl or cone, you too will melt away. Ice cream, after all, is the anti-freeze to the soul.
I chose to keep my first ever Salted Caramel ice cream spoon as a memento of the experience. I will surely go back!
This Salted Caramel ice cream spoon is set against the backdrop of SHOP Singapore, one of my favorite publication in the island city. I wonder if Upper Thomson Road has ever been featured on its pages.
The Salted Caramel paper cup bears a sticker of the logo and colors of the place. Everything is in comforting shades of brown. At this shop, clearly, it takes salt and burnt sugar, one magic moment, to know you’re in heaven.
Salted Caramel is housed on a stretch of buildings that bear marks of Singapore colonial architecture.
WHO? Salted Caramel Artisan Ice Cream. WHAT? Artisanal ice cream, waffles, a lot of dessert stuff. WHERE? 246F Upper Thomson Road, Singapore 574370. www.saltedcaramel.sg. WHEN? Sunday–Thursday 12:00 NN–11:00 PM / Eve of Public Holiday, Friday & Saturday 12:00 NN–2:00 AM. WHY? The ice cream is top notch. There’s alcohol in some of them. The staff is nice. HOW? The nearest MRT station is CC16 Marymount (Circle Line). We walked about 10 minutes. HOW MUCH? It was Michael’s treat but I think he spent nowhere more than S$ 5.00 per head.
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