So what exactly is all the excitement about here? Why the fanatical devotion to one particular brand of ice cream?
All ice creams claim to be creamy and delicious, but Etna really is different. Each day founders, Paolo and Betty Smiroldo combine only the freshest ingredients: the sweetest American cow’s milk, New Zealand butter, Dutch cacao, Madagascar Bourbon vanilla, Caribbean sugar, Georgia pecans and local fruits, to name just a few. Named for Paolo’s hometown near Mount Etna in Sicily, this tasty island treat is packaged by hand daily near Pic Paradis on St. Martin’s French side.
With 14% butterfat, it is creamier than anything available on supermarket shelves back home. Daniel Jurczenko, head of Daniel’s By The Sea restaurant on Dawn Beach, sells lots of Etna vanilla ice cream on his homemade apple pie à la mode. “In the Caribbean, temperatures are usually in the 70s, even at night. You don’t want an ice cream that melts fast. Etna melts slowly even in the heat because of the butterfat. Our customers love it.”
Despite the fact that vanilla is the best-selling flavor in the United States, Etna produces other, exotic flavors that really tempt the palates of St. Maarten /St. Martin’s millions of visitors. Arguments break out when passionate Etna fans “discuss” favorite flavors. “Coconut,” one insists, forefinger emphasizing his choice. “Café”, argues another. And then I come along, unable to settle on just one, insisting that Pistachio, Rum Raisin, Butter Pecan, Strawberry, Café and Caramel are all kings of the Etna flavor mountain.
Etna’s regular flavors are Vanilla, Rum Raisin, Strawberry, Chocolat, Orange-Pineapple, Cookies & Crème. Depending on demand and the season, they also produce specialty flavors including Coconut, Pistachio, Caramel, Café, White Chocolat, Butter Pecan, Mint Chocolat, Tiramisu, Cinnamon, Mint, Gianduia (“Chocolat” with hazelnut and almond), along with the following sorbets Citron Verde, Fruit la Passion, Mango, Guava, Cassis, Anise, Raspberry and Strawberry.
You’ll find Etna Ice Cream in local supermarkets as well as in close to 80 island restaurants; be sure to ask for it by name.