Sometimes it is, indeed, worth playing with food: if we approach it with sufficient courage and cheer, it can give room to endless experimentation. And when all this is combined with professionalism and dedication, success is basically guaranteed: Unicone rewrites everything we thought we knew about winter ice cream.
It’s easy to associate ice cream with the freedom of childhood. Let’s be honest: there wasn’t a single hot summer day that one, two or three giant scoops of cooling sweetness could not make better in an instant. Especially if, on truly special occasions, there was even a wafer roll stuck into the ice cream or if we could order it in the bit more pricey sweet cone. Yes, it might have been icy, plastic-flavored and neon-colored, and on top we had to be quick when eating it, otherwise it soaked through the tip of the thin cone and landed on our shoes, still we were much more enthusiastic to go on an afternoon stroll if it promised a quick visit to the ice cream parlor.
And what did we eat when the summer vacation ended? We Hungarians are a resourceful nation, so we had an alternative for the colder days, too: winter ice cream. I always considered it quite decadent that we have a sweet treat that defies the season, and, on top, it is a wafer that set out to be an ice cream. However, it’s also true that the decline of the post-war confectionary industry could be felt everywhere, so the retro version, which has stayed with us to this day, was anything but good quality, to put it mildly: the wrapper hid a margarine-cocoa cream filling and a too soft wafer, making it almost impossible to lick or bite it properly.
Even though numerous classic Hungarian desserts and sweets have been reinvented over the past years, winter ice cream has been pushed into the background for quite a long time (only the pastry shop Erdős és fiai created their own version of it – the Ed.). It was the shutdown brought about by the epidemic that finally provided the time and space for it to materialize. Kriszta Buza, the founder and owner of Kitchy Design, has been working in the world of gastronomy for a long time and has never been afraid of novelties. János Mizsei, the chef of MÁK is also well-known in the professional community, as, with his groundbreaking dishes that still respect traditions to the fullest extent, he made the fine dining experience available to broader layers of society, without unnecessary frills. They have already worked together previously (by teaming up with Anna Pásztor), but over this past year they had more free time—this is how it happened that in addition to various reinvented desserts, including négercsók (chocolate-coated marshmallow treats) or habcsók (meringues), they also debuted a reinvented winter ice cream at their pop-up fair. The debut was a roaring success: their stock consisting of approx. 300 pieces was sold out in a morning.
Unicone is everything your inner child could ever long for: colorful, fresh, bold, playful while also meticulously elaborated and of outstanding quality. The duo decided not to opt for the Scandinavian minimalism that has become a popular choice over the past one and a half decades: instead, they embraced their colorful and creative energies that they could only show in other projects at the price of severe compromises. To that end, they are deliberately trying to break away from the term “winter ice cream” by specifying Unicone as a type of dessert. After the beta version launched in November, their selection quickly expanded with additional flavors, while they also made sure the ice creams met as many needs as possible. The cone is vegan and gluten-free, the creams are made with coconut cream, using premium French and Hungarian ingredients, and are inspired by Hungarian flavor combinations. Currently their assortment features six vegan flavors in exciting combinations: those interested can taste artichoke dark chocolate cream with salty caramel-milk chocolate ganache, sunflower seeds and pollen or green walnut-dark chocolate with Calamansi gel and buckthorn-orange peel, but one can also try the lime-matcha, liquorice-blueberry and tonka bean-coffee versions, too. Their palette will be updated in each season, and their plans also include growing the vegetables and fruits used for their products themselves.
As the winter ice creams are made with an entirely different method than their icy friends, and they are also shock-freezing them if needed (a method of flash freezing, where they reduce the core temperature of the food to -10-20°C in a shock-freezer, thus preserving its texture, color and flavor without impairing quality – the Ed.), thus allowing the ice cream cones to get to any point of the country and the globe safely. Currently they can be tasted at three spots in Budapest (in 4minutes café, Cloe Café and Scruton), but those living near Lake Balaton and the residents of Szeged, Békéscsaba, Pécs and Miercurea Ciuc can also grab a Unicone. The minds behind the dessert firmly believe that Unicone will find its fans: in addition to designing flavors to orders, they are regularly contacted by potential resellers from all over the world, and so if they manage to resolve the issue of transportation, the new winter ice creams will soon be able to give a bite of the ice cream dream come true in many places across Europe and even the Middle East.
Photos: Tamás Kaunitz