Friday, August 30, 2013

Cold Comfort

     What's your favorite dessert? What a wonderful question to consider!

     I don't mean to offend anyone, but I'm not a chocolate fan. (I know to some chocoholics, them there's fightin' words.) I love pie -- blueberry, peach, coconut custard. I also like cake. The cake you get in a restaurant usually looks better than it tastes, and often disappoints, but homemade cake, even cake made with a mix . . . ah, a beautiful thing.

     But it's summer. How can we seriously turn our attention to anything but ice cream? I hate to seem boring, but my favorite flavor is vanilla. And I'm not alone. Vanilla outsells chocolate, the second-most-popular flavor, by more than two-to-one. I'm sure the words a la mode have something to do with that.

     But, to me, vanilla is not bland, as some people charge. It has a subtle taste. It's evocative. It hints at the tropics where the vanilla beans grow, but doesn't overwhelm your senses like chocolate does.

     I don't mean to denigrate chocolate. It's not my favorite. But chocolate is supposed to be good for you. (That explains why I don't like it as much -- I never like anything that's good for me!) And . . . chocolate is an aphrodisiac, isn't it?

     There are plenty of other more exotic flavors of ice cream -- which is one of its charms. You can make it taste like anything you want. My mother's favorite was coffee. And she liked pistachio. My dad didn't like ice cream, didn't eat dessert at all, which explains why he was thin. But he was also kind of a stuffed shirt.

     As for me, I'm a modern man. I like cookie dough ice cream.

     The Dairy Reporter says your flavor preference reveals a lot about your personality. Vanilla lovers are supposed to be "impulsive, easily suggestible and idealistic" (which doesn't describe me at all). People who like cookie dough are ambitious, competitive and visionary. I'm not sure I agree. I'm afraid people who like cookie dough ice cream are just fat.

     Regardless, ice cream is a deep and ever-swirling topic for discussion. Remember the ice-cream truck that came around the neighborhood when we were kids? The Good Humor man rang his bell up and down the streets of my youth. You can still find an ice-cream truck here and there. But they're not part of the culture as they were when we were kids.

     Then there's soft ice cream. For the most part, I prefer regular ice cream. But there's an ice-cream stand in my town, called King Kone, that serves a particularly tasty kind of soft ice cream. I don't know how they do it. But it's flavorful and creamy -- and the place is the hottest spot in town every night from June through September.

     King Kone offers a panoply of toppings -- which is a whole other subject. Some people are purests and would never pollute their ice cream with nuts or sprinkles or dips. In general, I support their fundamentalist spirit. But King Kone has the best rainbow sprinkles, which turn a beautiful ice cream cone into a sparkling tower of perfection. Although . . . B prefers the chocolate dip.

      What about ice-cream cake? I say it's a poor use of both cake and ice cream. But there's an exception to every rule. And the exception to this rule is: birthday cake.

     Speaking of bastardizations, what about frozen yogurt? I went through a period some years ago of substituting frozen yogurt -- now known as froyo -- for ice cream. I thought it was healthier. But now I realize that froyo is to ice cream what artificial flowers are to real flowers. So I stick with the real thing.

     Finally, I must warn you, when you go to the store to buy ice cream, be careful not to pick up a carton of "frozen dairy dessert" by mistake. Yes, some companies try to pass off this mysterious mix as real ice cream. Doesn't make the grade in my book.

     So stick with Haagen Dazs or Ben & Jerry's. They're not my favorites, but they are the real thing. Or Dreyer's or Edy's. But my go-to brand is Turkey Hill. I'm not sure if it's even available outside the Northeast, but it's really good.

     And since I'm always open to suggestions, on the lookout for new ice-cream experiences, what's your favorite?

13 comments: said...

Outside Wisconsin, I can't find good ice cream. The best ice cream in the world is fresh, not stored in a paper carton where it picks up the taste of paper.

As for desserts, I love the Schum Torte - a merange with vanilla ice cream and fresh strawberries, but just try to find it anywhere ouside Wisconsin.

I make a mean cheesecake using a high protein recipe (for those who want to cut down on carbs). I serve it cold and sometimes we put fruit on top, but it is fine without. Dianne

Anonymous said...

Our local ice cream chain doesn't have the best ice cream in the world (it doesn't pass the vanilla taste test, and it took me 20 years to lear to eat any of it); but, a double (plain cake) cone with Cappuccino Chunky Chocolate on the bottom and Black Walnut on top is a good choice.

If I can't have snow ice cream, or home-made ice cream, I want Blue Belle Homemade Vanilla for eating at home - conveniently available in two quart or individual serving cup sizes.
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Stephen Hayes said...

I was never into vanilla ice cream until I had some on the island of Moorea. Vanilla beans were growing everywhere and the air was thick with the scent of ripe beans. The ice cream was made locally and I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven.

Stephen Hayes said...

I was never into vanilla ice cream until I had some on the island of Moorea. Vanilla beans were growing everywhere and the air was thick with the scent of ripe beans. The ice cream was made locally and I thought I'd died and gone to Heaven.

Barb said...

I just came from texas. Blue Belle my friend, Blue Belle. but like Turkey Hill, not sure how wide the distribution is. Oh, and Safeway(or Tom Thumb or Randalls) gourmet salted caramel pecan ice cream. there is no gourmet equivalent, from Ben and Jerry or anyone else.

Laura Lee Carter aka the Midlife Crisis Queen said...

Please send me your blog carnival contribution through my Gmail account today!
Apparently hotmail is under attack!

Douglas said...

Edy's Cherry Chocolate Chip. All others pale in comparison.

Meryl Baer said...

Our local Sun Daze ice cream shop has the best nonfat soft ice cream anywhere.
Vanilla is best utilized as the base of an ice cream sundae with hot fudge and other toppings of your choosing.
A great alternative is gelato, but it is hard to fine great gelato in this country.

Anonymous said...

Tillamook ICE CREAM is the bomb out here in the pacific northwest and Umpqua brand a close second, locally made with real cream, the Tillamook dairy is one of the biggest and oldest in Oregon, their factory and ice cream store tour is number one for tourists, that is a fact, yumme, Turkey Hill is coming into our area cannot wait to try it at all!!!!!!!

DJan said...

Here in Belllingham we are so fortunate to have
Mallard's Ice Cream. I've tried to provide a link so you can read about it. My favorite is mint oreo, which is made with local mint.

Kay Dennison said...

Dulce de Leche ice cream -- it's sorta a honey-vanilla flavor. I love it!

Anonymous said...

In my previous comment, I failed to say that my years in California were made more pleasant by my occasional indulgence in a cone of vanilla chocolate chip or vanilla Swiss almond Haagen Dazs. (A cone with a dip of each was best, of course!)
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Dick Klade said...

My favorites are geared to the seasons--blueberry pie in winter, blueberry ice cream when it's hot. Notice any similarity?