The results are in. I organized a blind taste test of four respected vanilla ice creams using my boyfriend, the vanilla fan, as judge. The clear winner: HAAGEN DAZS! It won handily, based on both taste and texture. Second was a tie between Ben & Jerry's and Ronnybrook Farm, and fourth place went to Ciao Bella. Now in defense of Ciao Bella, I must admit that the pint I bought in their outlet turned out to have been partly melted & refrozen, ruining the texture. But the judge insisted that, regardless of the texture, the taste wasn't as intense as the others. I was very impressed with Ciao Bella's vanilla the one time I had it, and it should also be noted that it is a gelato rather than a high-butterfat premium ice cream and thus maybe shouldn't even be compared with the others. I guess I'll have to repeat the test sometime; any suggestions on other worthy ice creams (available in the NYC area) that should be included?
I'll report the results when he tests chocolate ice creams on me.