One of the reasons I get so excited every year around Christmas is that December is the season of peppermint ice cream, that bright pink, Altoid-flavored treat that is one of those love-it-or-hate-it kinds of things. Either it tastes like ecstasy or Rolaids to you, no in between.
The best peppermint ice cream in the world is made by Mitchell’s, and if you don’t live in the SF Bay Area, you can’t have it. Do not under any circumstances try the Dreyer’s or Edy’s brands of peppermint ice cream now in stores; they are corn-syrup-viscous, fake tasting, and vile. Häagen-Dazs has an acceptable holiday peppermint flavor in stores right now. Though it lacks the beautifully fake pink color characteristic of old-school peppermint flavors, at least it’s studded with big hunks of peppermint bark and peppermint candy shards that give it the crystalline texture that peppermint ice cream lovers crave. And it’s a little down-market, but Baskin-Robbins makes a good peppermint as well, and it’s out there in the scoop stores right now. The texture is spot-on and melts smoothly, rather than into a syrup, in your mouth.
If you get really desperate, you can always make your own. Simply Recipes has the best recipe I’ve found, informed by ice cream master David Lebovitz and utilizing the all-important crushed peppermint candies. If that signature crunch and pink color isn’t as important to you as the minty flavor, CHOW has a wonderful recipe for Mint Chip Ice Cream. But since you can get that any time of the year, it doesn’t thrill me like the pink stuff—pink as Pepto-Bismol, minty as toothpaste.