“Just ask nicely.”
I didn’t get why I had to remind myself that. I’ve asked for free tastes at Sebastian’s Ice Cream shop many times before. Then again, before, I was never alone. Before, I had friends with me. Before, I had someone with me. Now it’s just me.
Guess it’s one for the books: my first time at Sebastian’s alone.
How was it? Well, besides the two attendants, I was the sole customer they had. I was reveling in that fact because that meant I could sit in that little couch. Because I was the only one there, I was relieved. I breathed, took my time, and asked nicely.
First, I asked for Unresolved Issues. I pointed to the candied ampalaya. I wanted to make sure that I had a bit of it for my first taste. The ampalaya sorbet was smooth and light but there wasn’t anything distinct about it—until I nibbled on the candied vegetable. For the record: I am not a fan of ampalaya. Wouldn’t touch the thing with a ten-foot pole! I imagined myself retching when I ate. Surprisingly, it was manageable. But certainly I would not want another lick of it, even of just the sorbet.
Second, I requested for Matinong Boyfriend. Compared to last year’s red-and-white Matinong Boyfriend, this one looked tamer in color; while there’s yellow and brown in the sea of white in the tub, nothing truly eye-catching. That was all appearance. Once the ice cream met my tongue, there was an explosion of intense flavors. That was genuine passion fruit—and a lot of it! I’ve had the fruit many times before, thanks to my brother who loved it and brought some home to make juice for Sabbath lunches, which was definitely watered down. But that ice cream was not! Imagine a shot of espresso turned fruity yet still with the same potency. That was Matinong Boyfriend!
And just when I was completely engrossed in the experience, the world changed. Five middle-aged women and four teen girls entered. I could no longer hear myself think because I was drowning in their chatter. And—even before I looked—I knew the little couch would be taken.
I asked for the last two as whole scoops. I didn’t want to stand there longer because it was getting crowded and louder, even if I had my earphones on.
Of the nine that were there, only two knew—or were vocal—about their knowledge about Sebastian’s. I could hear them gushing while the rest just asked each other what they should order. One remarked, “Kuhain mo yung Matinong Boyfriend.” (“Get the Matinong Boyfriend.”) Expressionless faces on the women. “Kailangan mo yan.” (“You need it.”) Side-eye and friendly slap.
Carefully, I carried my two cups away from the chaos. Guess I was still reeling from discombobulation that I dug into Closure without thinking. In the dimness of the day, it didn’t look as orangey. I forgot what comprised the flavor—all that I knew the moment the ice cream was melting in my mouth was that it was the sweetness I was looking for, that it was the taste that I wanted. Closure was so good that losing the couch to the girls and the women taking a chair from my table with nary a word turned into non-issues. It made the world so much better. (Turns out, Closure is chrysanthemum ice cream with orange and vanilla; interestingly, the three are symbols for protection, luck, and love respectively.)
Before I finished the entire scoop, I stopped myself. Closure should’ve been my closer.
Matinong Girlfriend is a crazy mix of tastes and textures. My first lick was like plunging into the middle of a war: sweet, salty, and a hint of sour. I had a difficult time making heads or tails with what was in my mouth. I knew there was smooth ice cream then I realized I was biting into—chips?! Yes, it was undeniably chips with some cheese.
As usual, I combined ice creams. As a medley, Closure and Matinong Girlfriend work well; the latter tones down the sweetness of the former and gives it crunch, the former dilutes the latter’s saltiness and lends body.
Still, I went with my first idea: my last licks went to Closure.
While sitting there, I remembered Delle of Monster Radio RX 93.1. She mentioned that some people couldn’t handle being alone so they would hide behind stuff, like a book. She also recalled a TV moment when Carrie Bradshaw sat alone and had coffee. No company, not even a book—just herself and that cup. I guess that does work.
No company, no book, no hiding. Just good ice cream.
Sebastian’s Ice Cream
2F SM Mall of Asia
(North side, near IMAX Exit)