From salted duck egg to sapin sapin: Filipino ingredients become ice cream flavors at Wanderlust Creamery

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12 special flavors introduced for Fil-Am History Month

MANY believe that the best way to learn about a culture is through food. Though the process of traveling may be a luxury in itself, an LA-based artisanal ice cream concept takes customers on a figurative trip around the world — all packed into a scoop.

For the past three years, Wanderlust Creamery — started by Filipino-Americans Adrienne Borlongan and JP Lopez — has introduced flavors inspired by their global travels, as well as destinations that have yet to be explored or stories from other people’s adventures.

Wanderlust currently has storefronts in Tarzana, Atwater Village, Venice, and a weekly residency at Smorgasburg LA.

A signature flavor on Wanderlust’s menu has been the Ube Malted Crunch, which takes the purple yam mixed with malted milk topped with crunchy malted milk pieces. The creation was based on living in the U.S. as a second-generation Filipino.

“When we first opened Wanderlust, people would see that my partner and I are Filipino and that we have ube on the menu, so they automatically think it’s a Filipino ice cream shop,” Borlongan told the Asian Journal. “But we’re inspired by all over the globe so we have influences from everywhere, not just one area.”

Other standout concoctions include Sticky Rice and Mango from Thailand or Honey Lavender inspired by Provence, France.

“The ice cream trend has been elevating flavors beyond the typical chocolate or strawberry and delivering an experience in a scoop of ice cream, so I want people to be able to eat the whole thing, not just stop at one spoonful,” she continued.

For ice cream aficionados or larger parties who can’t decide on just one scoop or want to try as many flavors as possible, Wanderlust offers “A Flight Around the World,” with 14 mini cones of the signature and seasonal flavors of their choice.

Though Borlongan — a food scientist by trade and former bartender — didn’t have experience in the ice cream industry prior to opening Wanderlust three years ago, the craft of developing flavors is in her blood, as she shared that her grandfather was a flavor chemist for Magnolia Ice Cream back in the Philippines.

To mark October as Filipino-American History Month, Borlongan unveiled 12 custom flavors derived from Filipino desserts she grew up eating and ingredients she saw during trips to the Philippines.

“These are flavors that I’ve been saving that I’ve always wanted to make. Now that we’ve been open for three years, I think people get what Wanderlust is all about so I decided to throw a whole month’s worth of flavors for the Filipino community,” she continued.

The flavors are:

• Barako Coffee (barako coffee beans infused into grass fed ice cream sweeted with dark muscovado sugar)

• Sans Rival (buttercream ice cream with pieces of crispy cashew dacquoise)

• Kalamansi Pie (meringue ice cream, housemade kalamansi lime curd and graham crumble)

• Pandan Tres Leches (sweet cream ice cream with ribbons of condensed milk + pieces of pandan sponge cake)

• Coconut Beurre Noisette (Sweet cream ice cream studded with “latik” – curds of browned coconut milk)

• Kapampangan Halo Halo (a mixture of condensed milk ice cream, flecked with jackfruit sherbet, swirls of saba banana-dulce de leche, and studded with coconut sport + crispy pinipig rice)

• Biko (a vegan and dairy free take on the rice dessert using banana leaf-infused sticky rice ice cream with caramelized coconut milk)

• Brown Butter Pili Nut (brown butter ice cream and roasted pili nuts from the Bicol region)

• Green Mango (a sorbet of green unripe mangoes)

• Keso De Bola (aged edam cheese ice cream)

• Sapin Sapin (A neapolitan of the signature Ube Malted Crunch®, jackfruit, and sticky rice ice creams)

• Limocito de Kastilla (a sorbet of tamarind and candied wild lime berries, grown in Camarines Sur, Philippines)

Like any flavor at Wanderlust, everything is made from scratch, using the freshest ingredients. The Brown Butter Pili Nut has pili nuts straight from Bicol, where Lopez’s family is from, and Barako Coffee is comprised of whole beans sourced from Batangas.

Of course, having Filipino ice cream on the menu would not be complete without a cheese flavor, so Borlongan made one using the beloved keso de bola.

“Everybody has told me that in the Philippines, the most beloved flavor after ube is cheese, so I actually went and bought some cheese ice cream from a Filipino grocery store. Honestly, I don’t get it because it’s a little too cheesy for me. One cheese I do love is edam, which is keso de bola so I decided to make a flavor out of that because it’s milder than the traditional cheese. I wanted to be able to introduce that to non-Filipinos too so there’s a compromise,” she said, comparing it to a cheesecake-like flavor.

On the flip side, some are Filipino takes on other desserts Borlongan enjoys, like pandan flavored tres leches or using kalamansi instead for a translation on key lime pie.

One creation, in particular, has been drawing attention: Salted Duck Egg, which rides on the current trend in the Philippines. It’s been turned into a potato chip seasoning or has been used in desserts.

Salted Duck Egg, one of the popular flavors this month at Wanderlust
Photo courtesy of Wanderlust Creamery

“Literally any restaurant at the mall will have a salted duck egg flavored something on the menu, kind of like how Hot Cheetos were on menus here a couple months ago so I liken it to that. I made a custard base with soft cured salted duck egg yolks and then we have hard cured yolks grated in. It just tastes like an extra eggy  crème brûlée. It sounds shocking but it’s our number one best-selling flavor this month because it’s not a far departure from a traditional dessert. It’s just custard,” Borlongan said.

(The Salted Egg Flavor is only available at the Tarzana and Atwater Village locations. To check which flavors are available at each store, visit https://www.wanderlustcreamery.com).

To top it all off, Wanderlust offers ube and pandan cones too.

With the Filipino flavors this month, Borlongan hopes customers will get some insight into the culture, yet see they are “not a far departure from Western sweets.”

“I tell this story all the time, when I had a birthday growing up, my mom would always buy me an ube cake from Goldilocks but I would have non-Filipinos in my class who would be freaked out by the color,” Borlongan recalled. “So my mom would have to buy the ube cake and a vanilla or chocolate from Ralphs in order to cater to the two worlds. But now, I’ll go to the stores and see little kids with purple mustaches and laugh at how times have changed. That’s basically what we’re trying to do with educating people.”

Christina M. Oriel
Christina M. Oriel

Christina M. Oriel is the Managing Editor of the Asian Journal Weekly Newspapers.

1 Comment
  1. So happy to hear about these new flavors for ice cream!!!!
    Please find a dealer or distributor for the East Cost.
    Surely these will be best sellers too. Even the Mid-West kids like anything “purple” from cakes to ice cream and anything in between.
    So very proud of you guys. Please sustain your quality and availability. Creativity with food is all over the world. The world have yet to discover how good our cuisine is. Our leftovers are the best tasting EVER!!!

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