I considered typing "nuff said" and being done with it, but when have I ever written short when I have the opportunity to write long? So...an examination of my favorite dessert and some of my favorite places to indulge!
I declare it's a perfect day for Dairy Queen!
First, a bit of background... in 1984, President Ronald Reagan declared July as National Ice Cream Month and designated the third Sunday in July as a specific National Ice Cream Day. I never realized this until this year as I was perusing my Highsmith Librarian's Desk Calendar! I would have been heartbroken to think I had missed out celebrating this day for the past 28 years, except for the fact that I celebrate ice cream on a weekly basis...I didn't agree with him politically, but obviously we shared an affinity for frozen desserts made from dairy products. (Or perhaps he was getting major political contributions from the Dairy Farmers of America and the National Milk Producers Federation.)
Flavor of the Month...
The picture doesn't do it justice!
My current favorite ice cream treat is Blueberry Pie from Oberweiss Dairy (a smallish operation located in Aurora, Illinois), but also available throughout the Chicago area and in Indiana, Michigan and St. Louis, Missouri. Oberweiss purchases milk from small-herd family farmers who do not use the rBGH bovine growth hormone. Blueberry Pie is a summer-only flavor; it's one of those super-super premium ice creams made with 18% butterfat. It's like two-two-two desserts in one: rich vanilla ice cream, not overly sweet, but incredibly creamy swirled with pockets of blueberry and chunks of crust. Oh, I faint just thinkin' about it!
Favorite Places to Eat Ice cream for dinner
On vacations when the girls were younger, my family tended to eat at odd times. We would get so engrossed in whatever we were doing that we lost track of time and often wound up eating lunch at 3 in the afternoon. So then we never really wanted dinner, a traditional dinner, that is. But 7 o'clock is always a perfect time for an ice cream dinner!
Oink's - New Buffalo, Michigan
Every summer we make a weekend pilgrimage to the Michigan and Indiana Dunes country. After a hard day of climbing dunes, building sand forts and braving the icy waters of Lake Michigan, we usually stay overnight in New Buffalo, Michigan and our favorite place for an ice cream dinner is Oink's Dutch Treat. The place is chockful of porcine kitsch: signs, figurines, plaques, and 55 flavors of heavenly ice cream. Favorite flavors include Mackinaw Island Fudge, Moose Tracks, Chocomania and Cake Batter. Portions are huge and servers are friendly even in the face of lines out the door. Believe me, it's worth the wait. (They also have a candy and fudge shop next door.)
227 West Buffalo Street, New Buffalo, MI
Pinocchio's - Sanibel Island, Florida
If you happen to take a trip to Sanibel Island, Florida, a fantastic place for ice cream for dinner is Pinocchio's Original Homemade Italian Ice Cream. We discovered it one late afternoon on a bike ride to the lighthouse on the east end of the island. They make 130 different flavors offered on a rotating basis. Dirty Sand Dollar (caramel based ice cream with malted milk balls "whoppers" & chocolate flakes) has an excellent basis of cream-to-crunch and, if you are fond of coconut, Sanibel Krunch (vanilla ice cream with chocolate-covered toasted coconut and mixed nuts) is heaven in a waffle cone. If you prefer sorbet, the Mango is particularly fresh and tasty.
362 Periwinkle Way Sanibel, FL
Ted Drewes - St. Louis, Missouri
If you happen to be in St. Louis on business or pleasure or college campus scouting, you must stop in at Ted Drewes Frozen Custard. The place has been selling frozen custard since 1929 -- and apparently Christmas trees as well. We've only ever been there in the two-ton heat of a St.Louis summer and there's nothing better to take the edge off than a Cindermint Concrete (what they call their ice cream with mix-ins). It's like Christmas in July!
It's that thick!
These concretes are blended so thick that the spoon does not fall out if the cup is turned upside down. Servers will often demonstrate this before handing your order to you. If you are not into peppermint, there's plenty of other candy and fruit ingredients to mix in for a delectable treat to beat the heat.
What's the difference between traditional ice cream and frozen custard, you may be asking? According to the Ted Drewes website: "frozen custard must have at least 10% butterfat and 1.4% eggyolk. The amount of air, also known as overrun, truly separates frozen custard from traditional ice cream. Traditional ice cream has as much as 100% overrun, which causes ice crystals to form. Frozen custard has 20% overrun or less. This reduction of air is what give frozen custard its silky smooth texture."
It is truly sublime!
6726 Chippewa, St. Louis, MO (btw, this is a section of historic Route 66)
Yesterday's - Estes Park, Colorado
In Estes Park, Colorado, in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, you can get your ice cream fix at Yesterday's Ice Cream. They feature Blue Bell Ice Cream out of Brenham, Texas, which is available in only 16 states, mainly in the South. Yesterday's has a 40's and 50's vibe, plenty of antique signs, memorabilia and music. Oh, did I mention the ice cream? Southern Blackberry Cobbler is a favorite as well as Chocolate-covered Cherries and Pecan Pralines n' Cream. As an added treat, if you wander a ways down the road, you might happen to see some elk or other local fauna cross your path.
191 W Elkhorn Ave, Estes Park, Colorado
I could go on and on... because, when in a new city, it is always my mission to find the best ice cream... but I think it's time to go celebrate National Ice Cream Day instead. Bon appetit!
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