IF YOU’RE going to be stuffing your single face with ice cream on Valentine’s Day, we beg you do it with a little bit of style and dignity, and we suggest you do it with Sebastian’s Ice Cream.
For the month of February, Sebastian’s is releasing its 2020 Valentine’s Day collection, with flavors called Matinong Boyfriend (Good Boyfriend), Matinong Girlfriend (Good Girlfriend), Closure, and, a surprising Valentine’s favorite, Unresolved Issues. “The flavor names stay the same (every year) but the flavors (themselves) change every year — with one exception. I envisioned it to be almost like a fashion collection, where every season, new designs come out. The themes were established at the very start,” said Ian Carandang, founder and sorbetero (ice cream maker) at Sebastian’s, in an exchange through Messenger.
Matinong Boyfriend is orange ice cream made with fresh orange zest, a hint of rum, and garnished with candied hazelnuts spiced with cinnamon. “Matinong Boyfriend was aimed at girls and thus had a feminine energy, using layered flavors and balance and incorporating fruit,” said Mr. Carandang. Matinong Girlfriend, meanwhile, is made with Cerveza Negra, with notes of toffee, caramel, and coffee. It’s also loaded with honey-roasted peanuts (made in-house) coated in bittersweet chocolate. “Matinong Girlfriend was aimed at boys and had a more ‘bro’-type approach,” he said, adding that in previous years, he had used potato chips, Cheetos, pretzels and chicharon (pork cracklings) to express the idea. The idea began in 2013, when Carl Vergara (playright, writer, comic artist, and creator of Zsa Zsa Zaturnnah), sent him a message that said, “Your next hit flavor shall be named Matinong Boyfriend.”
“That stuck with me and I thought that it was a fantastic idea,” said Mr. Carandang. He launched Matinong Boyfriend and Girlfriend after that, and added Closure and Unresolved Issues later on. Closure has always been tea-based: “It’s about wellness and rejuvenation. I went with using tea as a base and purposely going smooth (without chunks) so it was easy to eat. We’ve used different teas during the years ranging from Earl Grey in 2016 to Chai, Chrysanthemum tea, even Salabat. This year we’re going Japanese with Genmaicha,” he said. Closure 2020 is made with Japanese Green Tea leaves and popped roasted brown rice.
The flavor that has never changed, year after year, is Unresolved Issues. The description on Sebastian’s Facebook page says, “Still the same from last year: Ampalaya Sorbet garnished with candied Ampalaya bits. Mixing bitterness barely tempered with sweet, this Bitter Melon (ampalaya) sorbet is the embodiment of being unable to move on: never changing, never moving forward, even the price is still unchanged from when it first debuted.” It continued: “If you have a friend who needs an intervention because they are filled with bitterness and have difficulty letting go, bring them to Sebastian’s and have them confront their Unresolved Issues.”
“Wanting to embody bitterness and the inability to move on, I went with an Ampalaya Sorbet with candied Ampalaya. It’s as bitter as you imagine it to be and it’s more of a joke flavor to go along with the theme but it manages to sell scoops nevertheless — all flavors have free sampling so anyone who buys a scoop is making a choice. To complete the metaphor, the flavor never changes stays the same every year with no growth or development,” said Mr. Carandang. Well, ouch. Can you apply ice cream to that burn?
Emotions aside, the Valentine’s promo can sometimes serve as a launchpad for new flavors. “Flavors that I think turned out well do come back and get a second run as a ‘regular’ flavor and if they sell well, they get added to the lineup as recurring seasonal flavors. Both Passionfruit Sansrival and Dulce de Leche con Fresa have come from that launching pad and still pop up on our display today,” said Mr. Carandang.
Any person who has ever experienced romantic love, its highs and its lows, has tried to make sense of it. Some have painted about it, some have written books about it, and some have texted their exes. Mr. Carandang has found a way to distill an idea of love in an ice cream scoop — in this matter, ice cream becomes the canvas or the blank page.
Sebastian’s branches can be found at the Podium, Vertis North, and Regis Center.