The purpose of continuing to do this blog is that it encourages me to consider trying new things. In fact, part of its original intent was to push me to try more Japanese food back when my tastes were more conservative. As time has gone by, and I've broadened my experience to encompass quite a lot of what there is to offer, it's taken on a new purpose and that is that tracking Japanese snacks informs me about marketing, culture, and the origin of various foods. I've expanded the blog to try and include one non-Japanese review per week (usually on Fridays) in order to broaden my sampling and knowledge, but there is still plenty on the Japanese front to learn from as this product illustrated to me.
I had heard of "creme de cassis" before going to Japan, but only as a word in reference to alcoholic drinks, but I didn't know what cassis was (it's the French word for blackcurrant). It's not popular as a flavor or fruit in the U.S. - most likely because it isn't a native plant and never was incorporated into the common food culture. This ice cream includes not only cassis, but Marc de Champagne. Of course, I had never heard of that before either, but my research says that it is a colorless champagne made from the seeds and stalks that are a byproduct of making champagne. As you can see, I am pushed to become more broadly educated by virtue of writing about snacks.
Haagen Daz is marketing this as a holiday (Christmas and New Year's) special and it's supposed to wed the tangy acidity of cassis with the creaminess of milk and the warmth of the brandy. It's an extremely elegant combination which I probably would not sample even if I have the opportunity because I'm not a fan of boozy sweets. Still, I find it a reflection of the larger culture in Japan that such sophisticated offerings are created for the consumer market. It's not that we don't have such things in the U.S. - we do - but rather that they tend to be more available as specialty products by smaller artisan or craft makers.