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The Chic Way European Women Eat Ice Cream

It was a dream of a trip: Just my friend and me in Paris for a long weekend sans kids. The first thing we lined up were our restaurant reservations.

Tekés (which means “ceremony” in Hebrew) was top of the list and a spot that was getting rave reviews for its Middle Eastern vegetable-focused cuisine and Michelin star-winning chef. The open kitchen, the stellar food (let’s just say the Brulée de Cécile was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of dish), the candlelit ambiance—it was energizing and delicious and romantic all at once.

But something surprising happened during the dessert course. When our server brought over the dish, a chocolate ice cream of sorts, she drizzled it quite artfully in olive oil. Not only that, it was a pretty generous pour.

Ana Gambuto

A sprinkle of flaky salt to finish and she was off. Our taste buds and minds were blown, the olive oil evolving the entire flavor of the dish. Why hadn’t we considered this combination before?

I dialed an expert to gain a better understanding of the pairing: Andrew Benin is the CEO and co-founder of Graza, a high-quality olive oil brand. As he explains it, this combo is highly inventive—and breathes new life into an otherwise familiar flavor. “Dessert can become very unilateral and ice cream can fall into that trap,” he says. “The best way to spice things up is to insert unexpected flavors. With good extra virgin olive oil, you add super punchy and grassy notes, which creates a welcome complexity.”

But is the pairing limited to chocolate? Not at all, says Benin. A finishing olive oil (vs. a cooking oil) simply amplifies any flavor you love. That means, you can drizzle olive oil over vanilla ice cream or strawberry just as easily. “Olive oil is an umami bomb on top of the fat content in ice cream,” he explains. (Benin also recommends choosing one that features olives that were harvested early to maximize flavor—for example, this one from Graza.)

As for the origin story of this delectable combo, olive oil on ice cream has long been a European trend, in particular in Italy, and served with gelato. This means that, no, Tekés isn’t the first to pair these two contrasting flavors together. That said, I can personally attest they’re expert at getting it right.