Flowing with milk and honey

Israel, I was always taught, was known as the land flowing with milk and honey. Nothing against Israel, but for me, the land where milk and honey run freely was Argentina. 

It was there, at Cynthia's, amidst daily jugs of Margarita's milk and cans of home-harvested honey, that I was first introduced to honey vanilla ice cream. I have remembered this ice cream often, but it is only now that I look back and realize how central ice cream was to experience in Argentina.
You see, ice cream is a thing down there. It was what I had for lunch on my first day, and what I looked forward to every weekend during my excursions into El Bolson. I've mentioned the weekend routine before, but left out the ritual of Jauja, pretty much a gem of an heladeria in Argentina. Jack Johnson songs were always playing inside, while outside messy lines decorated Jauja's patio where fifty flavors crowded the menu board. After my first visit and several samplings I began to plan my choices days in advance.

Jauja's flavors all sounded poetic. Their taste was robust and real. Take chocolate profundo, named not dark chocolate, but chocolate that is profound, deep. Every flavor at Jauja was rich and a bit atypical, but like all other ice cream in the country, they were served in traditional Argentine style - slapped together with a long spatula in towering peaks atop tiny cones with a teeny, plastic, shovel-shaped spoon tacked in its side.

Though a product of Argentina through and through, the honey vanilla was nothing like this. No lines, no tiny spoons, no decisions. It was eaten straight from its styrofoam container - the volunteers taking turns - on the walk from Cynthia's kitchen to our casita.

Honey Vanilla Ice Cream 
yields about 2 cups

My batch definitely tastes like vanilla, less so like honey. I encourage you to use fragrant honeys. Ones with floral tones would be nice, I imagine. I assure you, though, regardless of the honey type, this recipe yields a rich, very real ice cream, one in which the flavor and texture of the cream assault you and then make you feel so, so good.

1 vanilla bean
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup milk (whole is best, others will do just fine)
1/2 cup good quality honey
1 teaspoon rum white rum

Flatten the vanilla bean and cut a seam along it lengthwise to open it. With a small spoon, scrape out the seeds, placing them in a small saucepan. Add the pod, cream, milk, honey, and rum as well. Stir to dissolve the honey. Heat the mixture over moderate heat, stirring from time to time, just until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let steep, covered, for 1 hour.

Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Remove the vanilla pod, and stir the mixture again to blend. Transfer it to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer's instructions.

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