An ice cream enthusiast from way back, the Malaysian-born, Australian-based traveller Po Lin would encounter an artisan helados establishment while travelling through San Carlos Bariloche, Río Negro in December 2010. Put simply, it would have a dramatic effect on her choice of livelihoods.
The store was Jauja Argentina, a local Patagonian Valley institution. Founded by artist, Lucy and her craft-maker partner Pepe, Jauja had been constructing ice cream flavours from their neighbouring single kitchen/laboratory in El Bolson since 1980.
In March 2011, Po Lin was soon jetting back to Argentina, where over the coming months she would learn the craft under the watchful eye of its titleholders.
Now, with the blessing of its South American originators, a Jauja Argentina operation has opened in Melbourne. It’s the first time the brand has left said continent, but this is far from a franchise store.
“It annoys me when people think that,” laughs Po Lin. “I mean we do use 100 per cent Argentinian techniques I learnt from working with ‘Mum’ (that’s Lucy), and I wouldn’t change that because it would do an injustice to the ice cream, but I do vary recipes.”.
Sampling the flavours at Helados Jauja, the most immediate qualities you notice are the textural fluctuations and sensation shifts in your mouth; from the cleansing blackcurrant and raspberry helados or blood orange sorbet, to the lighter coconut juice granita with Nata de Coco and real mint offering that uses fresh mint leaves.
And for that full-blooded smack, the ‘Sambayon’ (made with pure egg yolks and plenty of Marsala wine), the Argentine-style caramel with walnuts (‘Dulche de Leche’), or the silky smooth peanut butter explosion do the trick.
Whether it be simmering and caramelising black sesame seeds, crushing blood oranges by hand to boiling down white chocolate with berries, Po Lin blends artistic creativity with scientific precision.
And with some Malaysian inspiration in her flavours, ice cream and sorbet creations are made every few days without the use of flavouring, colouring or gelatine – the embodiment of the artisan way. This is ice cream like we haven’t experienced in Melbourne.