It's the oldest trick in the book, right? Take your regular brand, tack on a Premium, or a Preferred, or a Gold, or, in this case, a Reserve, jack up the price by like 30%, laugh all the way to the bank.
So obviously I was skeptical when I first saw those pints of Häagen Dazs Reserve in the freezer at Gristedes. Even though I love ice cream. Even though the flavors sounded intriguing. Even though Häagen Dazs has come out with some of the best new grocery-store varieties these past couple of years (yes, better than Ben & Jerry's). But they're not going to sucker me into paying $1.50 more per pint for a goldish ribbon, some new photography, a couple of fancy-sounding ingredients, and the vague threat of "limited batches". No way.
And then I caved. And man is this stuff good.
I've now tried three of the five Reserve flavors, and all have been extremely satisfying. The Pomegranate Chip is similiar to HD's Black Raspberry Chip, but without the vanilla, and with much more tartness, and depth, and—OK, maybe I'm imagining this part—better chocolate. The Hawaiian Lehua Honey and Sweet Cream is also surprisingly complex. There's definitely a "unique floral" taste here, as the "Flavor Notes" copy on the carton promises, but it's nicely balanced by the rich sweetness of the cream ice cream, and you can actually taste the honey.
Best of all is the Toasted Coconut Sesame Brittle, which, especially for a mass-produced product, serves up an amazing variety and balance of flavors. In every bite, there's the toasty coconut, there's the unapologetic sweetness of the cream base, and there's the gooey, ginger-infused brittle that's also bursting with sesame. In fact, this is my current favorite grocery-store ice cream on the market, and, to me, worth the extra forty cents or so a serving.
UPDATE 7.09: I tried the Amazon Valley Chocolate last night and it's totally NOT worth the extra price. Nothing special at all about this flavor. In fact, I thought it was kind of greasy.