Saturday, 18 June 2011

Buckets Fixes Melancholy

Coming back from a wedding celebration, I got stuck in a traffic jam outside Dataran Sunway at Kota Damansara. On The Om Nom Show at BFM89.9 was artisanal ice cream entrepreneur Elaine Gunting.

As the segment wrapped up, John Lim asked Elaine where her business was located.

"We're located at Kota Damansara-"


"That's where our factory is, The Strand," she continued. "We opened some counters to complement the production line. When we experiment with different flavours, we take it out and people can sample them..."

No prizes for guessing what I did next.

Buckets was tucked deep inside The Strand, far from the main road and out of sight. Two tables, several seats and barebones decor. The co-founder who calls himself Jay was standing by, "one leg kicking" as he said. He wasted little time, and I was sampling a number of flavours.

Buckets is about cold stuff: ice creams, sorbets and yoghurt-based desserts. Their ice creams are made the gelato way, with fresh raw ingredients. To make it low fat, they use palm-based stuff. They sell their stuff to a few cool customers, which include Ole-Ole Bali, Sushi-Tei and 7ate9.

"We use real fruits and ingredients," said Jay in his sales pitch. "When you eat our sorbets, it's like eating the fruit itself. If you tried similar products from other manufacturers, the first-"

"You'll taste the ice first," I cut in.

"That's right. But here, you taste the fruit first."

He didn't have to try so hard. The cool and refreshing rock melon and passionfruit sorbets released the fruits' aromas as it melted in the mouth. Likewise the banana ice cream. Some of the products had Italian names, which made selection a tad difficult.

I had a double scoop: vanilla and banana. Jay pointed out the black dots in the vanilla ice cream, which I knew were vanilla beans. The real deal. Strawberries from France, Thai honey mangoes, and pisang berangan for their banana ice creams. An ongoing experiment involves stevia, a healthier natural sweetener.

"Try this and tell me what you think," said Jay as he handed me a spoon of chocolate ice cream made with "the finest" dark Belgian chocolate. I cleared my mouth of the other flavours and in it went.

Wow. The chocolate hit the tongue almost immediately and seconds later, the aroma reached my nostrils via my throat.

They choose their raw ingredients based on not just on flavour, but also how the ingredients react to being frozen, then thawed, mixed with milk and blended in. Changes in quality and flavour can occur between box to bucket.

The ice creams were great. The lingering feel of the slick palm-based fat is to be expected - ice creams need some kind of fat in them.

A family walked in and bought a cup or two. Then, a couple waltzed in with a print-out for a Milk-A-Deal redemption. They were similarly sold on many of the flavours, particularly the sorbet and the yoghurt-based thingy with mixed berries. Then Jay mentioned durian.

What? I didn't hear about this.

After the couple leave, I asked for a single scoop of durian. After my two scoops of vanilla and banana.

Jay was incredulous. "Serious?"

Of course. In a year, durian rarely happens.

Of course it was good. It's durian. Buckets, Jay said, only use the expensive maoshanwang varietal.

The durian ice cream was the perfect ending for my incidental visit to this hidden dessert corner. Also a sweet way to end a hectic, draining week. Funny how things just seem to fall into place like that.

So this must be what it's like for Melody when she's having a good day.

Premium Buckets Sdn Bhd
38-G & 38-1, Jalan PJU 5/20B
The Strand, Kota Damansara
47810 Petaling Jaya, Selangor



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