Recently, on the eve of Whitey Bulger’s trial verdict, as it were, the Bedfellow and I made our way out to Boston. Boston and I are complicated. I see it as a lumbering, boorish, insouciant version of Manhattan with worse transit, and it hates me because I’m pretty. Unfortunately, it’s closer to my area than New York, and when we were offered the opportunity to test the Ice Cream Festival menu at Rosa Mexicano, it was more prudent to go to the Boston Seaport location.
Four hours and three changed reservations later, there we were, complimentary agua fresca in hand. My go-to-hell outfit may have been preemptive, but it certainly wasn’t in vain. Damn you, Boston, and your terrible drivers and perpetually sneered co-eds. The Seaport location is the newest of the Rosa franchise.
We started off our dinner outside, right next to the water, with two cocktails and our ‘appetizer’ ice cream, a guacamole treat based off the tableside guacamole Rosa Mexicano is famous for. This guacamole is similar to its savory counterpart in name and key ingredient only—the avocado element is kept the same, replaced with avocado ice cream, and the savory add-ins are swapped out for white chocolate, raspberries, coconut crumble, fresh mint, and two types of sauces, served with cinnamon and sugar bunuelo chips.
Visually, it’s an impressive end to a meal that presumably includes guacamole, something I’d like to try the next time I go to Rosa. It’s served in the same molcajete, with the same giant serving spoon and the red, white, and green colors mimic all the colorful veggies inside the guac itself. Flavorwise, I can’t say that I felt the same balance. Some of the mix-ins worked brilliantly. I’m speaking to the mint and raspberries especially, providing an acidic and bright element that really coaxed out the light vegetal note of the avocado ice cream. Some lime juice or zest would have been perfect. However, the remaining toppings and bunuelos overwhelmed the ice cream, especially the raspberry sauce, which inexplicably caused the ice cream to have a strangely astringent flavor, and it ended up tasting too much like a generic sundae.
Luckily, the sauces are served on the side, so you can add as much or as little as you please, or do as we did and just dip the bunuelos in them. The bunuelos are too fragile to hold up to the weight of the ice cream and serve more as visual props than key components. Also worth noting is that this will make a cumbersome, if playful date dessert. The chips are caked with cinnamon sugar and come with a written guarantee of spilling all over your shirt, skirt, or in my case, bow tie.
We followed that with the ice-cream stuffed churros. They come three to a plate, in three different flavors, underneath three different crumbles. The first was cajeta and sweet cream with chocolate ganache and chocolate crumbles. The ice cream was virtually indistinguishable beneath the fried pastry, but the chocolate crumbles stole the show, with a dark, deep, unsweetened flavor. A rose and hibiscus ice cream followed. This was the strongest in flavor, but would have been better sans churro.
My favorite was the plantain and peanut butter, with peanut butter crumbles. This was the most balanced and had the most indulgent flavor. Unfortunately, the size made them difficult to eat in one bite or share, as each was rather leaky.
We took a break from ice cream to have a few drinks. The Silverado, with blood orange, blueberries, mint, and tequila, was summery, if a little vapid in flavor, but the Rosa take on the classic Michaelada was outstanding. The few sips I had were amazing- the drink was served with a tomato, cucumber, habanero, and pepper popsicle that melted with each sip.
It was like drinking a boozy gazpacho, and the fresh vegetable flavors tempered the rich beer. My chief complaint was the amount of chile salt atop the glass- visually impressive, but far too intense for the size and components of the drink.
We finished our tasting with three paletas, or Mexican popsicles. These were served in vintage glasses, with various flavored crumbles at the bottom, fruit slices, and a white chocolate and spice rim. Fun additions, but ones that unfortunately took away from the fresh, intense fruit flavors of the popsicles themselves. We were encouraged to dip the popsicles into the crumble, which we’d somewhat wearied of at this juncture, but they wouldn’t stick to the pops and sat lifelessly at the bottom. The flavors were entertaining, especially the horchata-inspired popsicle, with soft, frozen pieces of cinnamon-infused rice.
There are some definite remediable inconsistencies, from dish to dish and even within individual plates, but overall, the menu is light and creative, and follows well with the theme of contemporary Mexican food. Service was fine, although my request for a small palate cleanser of the gherkin and jalapeno sorbet was forgotten amidst the deluge of richer fare. Rosa is always great for splashy, creative events, and I was happy to have made it over to enjoy this one. Much thanks to Rosa’s PR team and staff for hosting us.