French chef Philippe Faur believes his delicacies are more than just desserts. He dares to make savoury ice cream.
His caviar, foie gras and Roquefort flavours accompany dishes at his restaurant and inspire menus at a range of highly-regarded establishments elsewhere in France.
"I began making savoury ice creams in 2002, just to see how it would go, and I told myself it was the way to go," said Faur, 39, the son and grandson of ice-cream makers.
Faur's menu offers all kinds of colours and combinations, a hotch-potch to surprise the tastebuds and flood the palate with a harmony of flavours -- beef with Roquefort ice cream, duck breast ravioli with foie gras ice cream, young pigeon and foie gras with truffle ice cream, and sea bream with caviar sorbet.
On meat or fish, the frozen cream melts like a sauce. At Temptations, his restaurant at Saint-Girons in the Ariege region in southwest France, most diners sample it straight from a spoon dipped into the plate.
He now offers a menu with hundreds of flavours: champagne, mustard, ginger, lavender, liquorice, avocado and saffron as well as the classic vanilla, chocolate and strawberry.
For his foie gras, he turned to a producer from the Perigord region, Rougie, which supplies the great chefs, and for the caviar he went to the renowned Petrossian company.
In Lyon in 2007, his foie gras ice cream won him a top international award for innovation.
"It's innovative. It can be shocking, but 95 percent of customers love it," said chef Jean-Marc Granger, who hails from a Michelin-starred restaurant, a man who has the waistline for the job and a gourmet's grin.
"We came to try the foie gras ice cream and we'll be back," said Armand Anglade, who was celebrating his 35th wedding anniversary with his wife. "You can recognise the taste absolutely, the flavour of foie gras, it goes well with meat."
Faur lays claim to a manufacturing process he says is unique in France, and Europe. To create a high quality delicacy, he says he is rigorous in his choice of fruit and other ingredients and uses only unpasteurised full cream milk from a nearby farm.
Each day in the afternoon, Cecile Soucasse-Bareille delivers only milk taken fresh from the cows that morning.
The success of Faur's ice creams has also been good business for this dairy farm which is guaranteed to sell half its output, a godsend for an industry in crisis.
"Ninety-nine percent of ice creams aren't made from milk, but from milk powder and water. Here we go for quality, in the traditional fashion. The big companies make edible products for the least cost.
"Us, we take two days to make an ice cream; them, two hours," said Faur.
"For now, we don't want to get too big. We want a measured growth, to keep our soul and our quality," said Faur, who employs 14 people at his workshop, in addition to the restaurant staff.
His latest creation is wasabi ice cream from the Japanese condiment, and in the meantime he is working on anchovy.
"We tried porcini mushrooms and bethmale (a local cheese) but it wasn't satisfactory," said Faur, a big man with a round face who honed his craft in Paris, at the Lenotre and Bellouet schools.
For next year, rather than an original new flavour, Faur said he is planning "a worldwide innovation" -- a sorbet containing 95 percent fruit.