Summer is on us! There’s nothing that says summer more than a nice refreshing sorbet or gelato.
I’ve been meaning to do Ciao Bella gelato and sorbet flavor reviews for a while, since the grocery store near my house has an entire freezer display of all the different flavors. In the style of Community: buy or not buy?
1) Prickly Pear
Just bought this flavor today and had never heard of a prickly pear before – apparently it is the fruit of the opuntia, a type of cactus found in abundance in Mexico and central USA. I have never tried the actual prickly pear, so I can’t compare to the fruit flavor, but I imagine it would be similar to dragon fruit, another cactus fruit commonly eaten in Southeast Asia.
The prickly pear sorbet has a very refreshing, subtle flavor. I enjoyed the slight grassy aftertaste (similar to eating fresh strawberries) and the crisp juiciness. It also has a very aesthetically pleasing shade of reddish purple.
I am a huge fan of coconut. However, I notice that coconut has a complex relationship for many – either you love it or you hate it. One of my favorite meals ever was in Hainan Island, the southernmost tip of China. The ten course meal was prepared using coconut as the main ingredient; coconut soup, steamed coconut meat, fried coconut, coconut shrimp… mm. I still have dreams about that meal.
Anyway, the Ciao Bella coconut lives up to its coconutty-ness (is that a word?). The best part of this sorbet is that there are flakes of coconut in it, which gives it a nice texture. If you sit back and close your eyes, its almost like you’re in the tropics sipping on fresh coconut. I can’t imagine anyone hating coconut eating this, though.
Verdict: Definitely buy! Unless you hate coconut.
3) Blood Orange
Refreshing! claims the carton. I think not.
I expected something a bit more fragrant and juicy, perhaps more like a traditional orange sorbet. What I got tasted more like the peel of the orange than the flesh. It was a little too bitter to enjoy. There was also an unpleasant lingering aftertaste, and reminded me more of medicinal orange than a dessert orange.
Verdict: Don’t buy.
4) Matcha Green Tea
Once an exotic and rare flavor, green tea has quickly become a popular flavor offered by most of the major brands of ice cream. Some brands, particularly the American brands, really miss the mark on how matcha should taste.
Ciao Bella does a decent job! It’s smooth and creamy, more like a matcha milk shake than the hardcore Japanese versions. If there isn’t an Asian supermarket nearby that sells Japanese or Korean green tea ice cream, you can’t go wrong buying the Ciao Bella version.
5) Lemon Zest
I always loved lemon flavors. When I was a kid, I used to eat lemons plain – it was a treat to eat the lemon slices that had been at the bottom of a cup of sweetened tea. So I guess it’s not a surprise that I like lemon sorbet.
This sorbet is nice and refreshing, and I enjoy the smooth texture with little speckles of lemon zest in it. Unlike the blood orange, the taste of the peel doesn’t overpower the tangy lemon. This sorbet might work better as a palate cleanser or a light snack before you eat your actual gelato.
Verdict: Buy, but you might want to buy another flavor to finish your dessert off
6) Passion Fruit
The BEST flavor of the bunch! It’s just perfectly equal parts sweet and tangy – overall very refreshing. The flavor is complex and changes with each spoonful.
Call me shallow, but I love the golden orange color of the sorbet. Hey, what can I say? I like a pretty sorbet that also tastes delicious.
7) Key Lime Graham
The name ‘key lime pie’ sounded pretty good. But ugh! Possibly the worst one on this list. Again, there was that strange bitter aftertaste that was in the blood orange. The thing I liked the least was the texture, though. The graham cracker wasn’t in clusters (which I expected, probably more like the cheesecake flavors from other brands). Instead, it was spread evenly throughout the gelato, giving it a gross sandy texture. Felt like I had accidentally swallowed sand in my margarita at the beach.
Verdict: Don’t buy. Ever.
And there are all the Ciao Bella flavors I have tried! There’ll probably be a second list coming your way soon.
What’s your favorite summertime treat?