Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Bobtail Year 2: Olaf

Does my Olaf drawing look bad? ...You hesitated.
June was month one of my second Bobtail Year, in which I receive two pints of homemade ice cream a month from Bobtail.

If you haven't seen Frozen yet, I wouldn't recommend reading this entry. No spoilers or anything, but you won't get the jokes. I would recommend instead that you stop what you're doing and watch the film. But before you do that please tell me how you get internet service while living under a rock?

• • •

I found out what frozen things do in the summer. He was a snowman named Olaf and I just ate him.

I realize that must make me seem as wicked as Adele Dazeem.

I almost felt guilty, but I let it go.

(I could keep going...and I will.)

Like a snowman in a blender.
Having confessed to this act of carnage, you might think me a button-nosed dessert blogger with a heart made out of coal. But I was not the only one whose enthusiasm for Disney's Frozen has turned to acts of hysteria. People were lining up to eat him because Olaf is the name of Bobtail's latest customer-suggested creation. Inspired by the film's carrot-schnozzed snowman--unofficially inspired, Disney lawyers--Olaf ice cream has a white cream cheese base with generous hunks of carrot cake and walnuts. And, true to form, it contains no bones.

One read of the flavor description and I thought Olaf might like a warm hug...from my mouth. While I have but a mild amity for carrot cake, I am jumping-out-of-my-clogs ecstatic at the mention of carrot cake ice cream. The cream cheese base was lighter than one expects and the carrot cake and walnuts did a lot more than provide texture, adding much to the flavor. Suffice to say I had far less restraint than Sven the reindeer. (Reindeers are better than people, after all.) A flavor this good should be celebrated near and far, from Chicago to Weaseltown. And I think Olaf, who made the greatest sacrifice for this flavor to exist, would agree that it is a flavor worth melting for.

If you have the chance to try this flavor from Bobtail, it is an opportunity to knock at...assuming you know how to knock.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Atlanta on a Stick: King of Pops

King of Pops Window and Headquarters.
There aren’t many places I’ve heard of that are famous for popsicles, but one place, Atlanta’s King of Pops, has been on my radar for years now. It only seemed natural that before celebrating democracy at the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum—the fourth president I’ve checked off—I bow before a monarch of dessert.

The Corner.
But why, you might ask, do popsicles need a king when other desserts seem to have political neutrality? I’m no political science expert, but the explanation behind the coronation can be found in some simple math: Hammer + sickle = communism. Subtract the hammer (the voice of the working class), drop the k from “sickle” (via the type of healthcare only royalty or the 1% can afford), add patriarchy (patri-, father, pop) and there you have it: Monarchy = Popsicles. But I digress…

Within a short distance from one another are the two most important King of Pops locations, the Corner and the Window. My first stop was the Corner, the original location to feature a King of Pops cart. Waiting for me was a small cart, an umbrella, a smiling face and a seven-item menu. Having heard praise of their Sea Salt Chocolate, I dove in. This sweet-salty snack was the perfect chocolaty thing to smack my lips to on a warm day. Shame it wasn’t peanut-themed, eh, Jimmy?

Menu at the Window.
Later that evening, when it came time for dinner, I pointed my car toward Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q. (Perhaps the best ribs I’ve ever had, by the way.) Before I hit the gas, though, I concluded that since the day continued to be warm I would probably need another popsicle to cool down. It was practically on the way anyhow, being so close to the Window and all. Plus, I’d probably want lemonade with my proper southern meal, so why not eat a popsicle instead. This is the type of logic we use here at Ice Cream U Scream.

Tucked amongst brick and artful graffiti, the Window functions as the headquarters of King of Pops. Were it not for two things that indicate one has come to the right place—the eye-level signage and the chalkboard sign detailing the fifteen flavors available that day (out of over 100 rotating flavors!)—it would be easy to miss because the eponymous window peers out from a basement. Met with another smiling person happy to serve me what I was happy to eat, I hemmed and hawed for a while before settling on Blackberry Ginger Lemonade. Walking away eating the juicy frozen heir to the throne, I realized it didn’t matter what I’d chosen because anything would have been incredible. Well, almost anything. (I’m looking at you Strawberry Banana.)

Pop royalty.
Following this line of thinking, I turned around to test the theory by ordering the Mystery Flavor. For a buck less than their already affordable prices, King of Pops dares customers to put their fate in the hands of the jovial window-worker. When I ordered, he held out several popsicles and asked me to choose. I gently explained my burning hatred feelings about bananas, which sent one of the choices back into the freezer. (Good riddance!) I settled upon a cantaloupe-colored pop that looked the most adventurous. The jovial window-worker offered to tell me what I’d chosen, but I wanted to guess. While the taste wasn’t my favorite of those I tried, this flavor was the more refreshing than the others! It was light and tart, with a tingle of herb. Grapefruit Basil, I guessed, but I’d guessed wrong: Grapefruit Mint.

A pop veiled in mystery.
I’m happy to report that Atlanta is no longer the only place to find King of Pops (see the pull down arrow at the top left on their website); indeed, they are snuffing out democracy in shops and farmer’s markets both near (just 90 minutes away in Athens, GA at Ike & Jane Cafe and Bakery) and far (as far west as Chattanooga and as far north as Richmond, VA). So now you have the option to enjoy warm weather the Atlanta way without being in Georgia! Enjoy!

For another way to cool off in Atlanta, check out Atlanta in a Cone!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Atlanta in a Cone: Morelli's

The name Less-elli's was never considered.
Atlanta is hot. This is obvious to anyone with a basic understanding of weather systems on planet Earth. Still, like many cities, it has acquired a cute-but-annoying nickname used by non-residents: Hot-lanta. (This might be the most sigh-worthy of such loathsome nicknames, which is saying a lot being from *sigh* Chi-town, pronounced shy-town.) Non-residents and newbie transplants use these vapid cute-isms to indicate that they are knowing insiders when, ironically, doing so exposes them as superficial frauds. That being said, the fact remains that Atlanta does get hot and, therefore, anyone who finds themselves there would benefit from knowing different ways to cool off. And, as I live only to serve you, I’ve found two of the best options available.
Great photo, Brad!
Thanks, self!

Today, I’ll talk about Atlanta in a Cone. Later on, I’ll tell you about Atlanta on a Stick.

• • •

The moment I landed at ATL, I hustled my bustle straight to the rental car place, hastily agreed to numerous contractual obligations and turned on my phone’s GPS. I had one hour to get to my destination before it closed for the night, a business whose “Away on Vacation” sign had broken my heart when I last passed through Atlanta in 2009, a business that since has grown to add two more locations, a business whose flavor concepts stuck with me even before I tasted them.

Night photography is hard, y'all.
Dr. Pepper, Lard Raspberry, Salted Caramel, Coconut Caramel Macadamia. These are some of the rotating options I tried at Morelli’s. Their original location, tucked away from the street, is a walk-up window with a handful of cafe chairs sitting at umbrella-shaded tables. Though the surrounding area may seem a little rundown and, based on my experience, you will likely be solicited for money in the parking lot, something about a summer evening spent relaxing with a cone or bowl outside of Morelli’s adds a touch of class that resonates much longer than the “Am I in the right place?” feeling one gets driving there at night. (For guests who want more of a typical scoop shop vibe, their second of three locations is in an open air shopping center called Edgewood. Formerly a Cold Stone, the spot has indoor seating and an ice cream freezer you can peek in to see the flavors.)

Salted Caramel in the middle.
And then there’s the ice cream itself. Morelli’s dense, creamy scoops each offer something unique. Take, for example, the Salted Caramel. At first, one might think them just another dessert distributor jumping on the band wagon, believing themselves to be a James Beard contender simply by sprinkling some Morton’s in with some runny nonsense they slanderously refer to as caramel. But one taste proves that Morelli’s may have the best Salted Caramel creation available, certainly the best I’ve ever had. Rather than tasting sweet and salty as two separate entities, they arrive as one. The caramel has a dark and rich burnt sugar taste to it and the salt serves only to kick the other flavors up a notch, not to steal to the show. With flavors like this, it is no wonder they've won so much acclaim. It’s also no wonder that I visited Morelli’s three times during my short stay!

Next time: Atlanta on a Stick!

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Bobtail Year-in-Review

24 pints, 12 months, 1 man to eat them all.
My Bobtail Year, which lasted from June 2013 through May 2014, consisted of receiving two pints of Bobtail Homemade Ice Cream a month for donating to Oracle Theatre.

• • •

A year's worth of Bobtail ice cream is many things. It is in touch with pop culture via flavors named after a self-objectifying twerking enthusiast or a murderous medieval tagline. It makes use of the flavors of the season, be it a favorite dessert at Thanksgiving or a certain Valentine's Day treat. It honors people in uniform, including Chicago's lovable losers and young dealers who profit off of addicts during their annual nationwide baked goods sale. It is a little bit nutty, whether by way of legumes or actual tree nuts paired with chocolate. It is abstract, often in the form of concepts Kevin Spacey once referenced in a string of murders. It is an inquisitive study of farm animals. But above all else, a year's worth of Bobtail ice cream is inspired. But, twenty-four pints later, one has to ask: which flavors were the best?

Without a doubt my favorite Bobtail creation over the past twelve months was Lemongrass Mint Ginger. Though almost a year has passed since I tasted this flavor, I remember its nuances well. The subtle way each of its three namesakes floated in and out, playing off one another perfectly. Though it was a rare occurrence when I found myself doubting that Lemongrass Mint Ginger was as good as I remembered it being, it was put to the test when Bobtail offered Lemongrass ice cream partway through the year. It was delicious, but it was a sad nostalgia, like when you drive down the main drag of your hometown and see some of the stores had closed. I missed the spice of the mint. I missed the carbonated-like effect of the crystallized ginger sprinkled throughout. I hate to drag a solo artist through the mud--Honestly, Lemongrass, you were great--but I hope the band gets back together someday because Lemongrass Mint Ginger was one of the best, a legend on a spoon.

Both of the runners-up are four-legged flavors. First, there was the oddly-named 'Goat?', which brilliantly added goat cheese to the classic pairing of blackberry and vanilla. Pretty and delicate, both in color and on the tongue, it was an inspired twist on an underrated favorite. Next, there was Sloth which, for reason that escape me now, was never actually given its own post. Sloth had a peanut butter base with marshmallow and butterscotch mixed in. I'm not usually one for peanut butter flavors, but this one did it for me.

As luck would have it, the story doesn't end here. Chris over at Bobtail has been a big fan of my blog posts and was kind enough to send me a new punchcard for another year of Bobtail ice cream! Year two begins in June.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bobtail Year: Goat?

Photo copyrights are not mine. Will take down upon request.
L-to-R: "Wildman" Steve Brill, Murray's Cheese and Beyond Reason.

May is month twelve of my Bobtail Year, two pints of Bobtail Homemade Ice Cream a month for donating to Oracle Theatre.

• • • 

When I walk into Bobtail, I see they have a flavor named after a certain bearded, Taylor Swift back-up singer with rectangular pupils, a horned barnyardigan whose fuzzy figure doesn't seem like appetizing inspiration for a dessert.

"Tell me about the Goat, please."
"You have to say it, 'Goat?' Haha!"
"I'd like to try the Goat? please."

My scoop-stress, who having been tasked to name the flavor assigned it its inquisitive moniker, dunked her arm into the freezer. The sample spoon dipped into the prettiest bucket of ice cream in all the freezer. Could it be?

"Tell me about the Goat?"
"Goat? is a vanilla goat cheese ice cream with blackberries and goat cheese crumbles."

It was! I'd known it on sight: Just as blackberries stain one's fingers, it turns an ice cream base a delicate white and purple. Blackberry ice cream is perhaps the finest of all fruit ice cream, its tartness blending with cream and vanilla into the sweetest three-part harmony known to man. Adding a new voice to the mix, goat cheese? My oral cavity ached for this trio-turned-quartet's appetizing acoustics.

I let the echo of the sample bite reverberate through my being. Having just tasted vanilla goat cheese ice cream with blackberries and goat cheese crumble, it was clear that a change had taken place inside me. Part of me knew that nothing would ever be the--
"Well?" she asked. Clearly, I had lingered for longer than is normal.
"Well, I know I love it. The thing I'm wondering is how many pints I should get."
And I wish I'd gotten more.

Anyone who knows me and Bobtail will know this isn't Bobtail's first dance with goat cheese ice cream. This time around, vanilla is the principle flavor, one that is softened by the goat cheese and made tart by the blackberries. The goat cheese flavor isn't really in the foreground until one gets a bite with the goat cheese crumble mix-in, temporarily overtaking the silky vanilla-blackberry. The goat cheese crumbles are not overused, sneaking in every two or three bites. While the blackberry mix-in is less present than the goat cheese crumbles--just a few in my pint--their effect on the flavor as a whole is undeniable.

Without question, this was one of the best flavors of my Bobtail Year...but was it the best? This requires some thought. Next time: Bobtail Year in Review!

Friday, May 9, 2014

SLC Night: Dolcetti Gelato

I know, Open Hands. I too wish there was more.
Part of the series SLC: Morning, Noon & Night.

• • •

"Taste it. I think you'll find it's a bit of a revelation."

I took the sample spoon of Lime-Basil Sorbetto from the friendly poet behind the counter. Indeed, the flavor seemed to reveal new taste buds and revive dormant ones, as if my mouth had been transformed from a studio apartment into a high-ceilinged cathedral. I wanted more. I needed more. He continued, "It's like a mojito with basil instead of mint." I don't want to drink it, I thought. I want to eat it by the shovel-full.

Italian 101: The "ce" in dolcetti is
pronounced "cheh", like "Chet."
Studying the display case, it was immediately clear that Dolcetti Gelato was much more than I expected. (One can be a little hoity-toity about gelato after a trip to Italy, even if that trip was five years ago.) Their flavors ranged from oddball (Jalapeño Chocolate) and uncommon (Lavender Honey) to simple (Blueberry Lemon sorbetto) and classic (Hazelnut). The only problem was the limit of two flavors per cup, which is both frustrating to a glutton who wants to eat everything he can and sensible to a connoisseur who wants to get a clear, uncontaminated understanding of the flavors tried. I settled on Coconut Sticky Rice gelato to go with my Lime-Basil Sorbetto, a combination both the gelato poet behind the counter and I agreed was a delightfully Thai combination.
I considered taking up
residence in this nest.

In addition to offering a fantastic product that mixed the contemporary with the classic, the place also featured a mishmash of contemporary decor. I wasn't sure whether it was a sleek café lovingly adorned with hipster flair or the other way around. My favorite parts were the showcase tables full of trinkets and an enormous metal bird's nest chandelier. This would be a great place to sit for an evening, playing Bananagrams with friends between bowls of gelato.

They also offered little sweets--dolcetti--like pastries and imported chocolate, all of which made me wish my stomach joined my mouth in suddenly feeling bigger. Much bigger. One shovel-full of Lime-Basil Sorbetto was not enough.

After I tried Jalapeño Chocolate, I was offered a palate cleanser.
Just another reason to love Dolcetti Gelato.

Dolcetti Gelato was easily the stand-out among frozen desserts downtown. I also tried the old fashioned Leatherby's Family Creamery and the island-themed Tropical Dreams Hawaiian Creamery. For dinner in Salt Lake City, I'd point you to Cucina Toscana where I received truly memorable service to go with an exquisite special: Halibut Umido, halibut in tomato-basil sauce with scallops, shrimp, squid and clams. Be warned, though: when SLC restaurants advertise that they closes at 10, it means the kitchen closes at 9. Take note.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

SLC Noon: Les Madeleines

In Salt Lake City, Kouing is king.
 Part of the series SLC: Morning, Noon & Night.

• • •

Shortly after arriving at my hotel in Salt Lake City, I ran out to grab some food. My first stop was Les Madeleines Patisserie and Café. Upon entering, it was very clear that this French bakery had more than few items that I wanted to take home with me. (I believe the phrase vous le vous coucher avec moi, ce soi? is appropriate, oui?) But the pastry du jour was to be their famed Kouing Aman.

"I'll have the one I can't pronounce."

Crispy on the outside with caramelized sugar and airy/chewy on inside, I knew from my first bite that this was one of the best pastries I've eaten in my life. Pronounced kween ah-MAHN, it is no wonder that this treat national treasure has won awards and has been featured of the Food Network. It has a Food Network price attached to it as well, but, trust me, when the person behind the counter asks how many you want, do not say "just one." Once you taste it, you'll join me in bowing to the Kouing.

While you're in the area, I recommend checking out the roof of  nearby City Library. It offers a lovely view of the city and the surrounding mountains. You may also want lunch, so walk north up nearby State Street--Yes! A street with a name instead of a number!--to Alamexo. Their Cochinita Pibil (achiote & bitter orange marinated pork shoulder, cooked in banana leaf, served with habanero pickled escabeche) was extraordinary and their free chips and salsa were the best I've ever had.

Other mid-day pastries I consumed were a chocolate chip coconut macadamia cookie from Tony Caputo's Market & Deli--so much yum in one city--and the vanilla liege waffle from the Belgiumphilic hole-in-the-wall Bruges Waffles & Frites. But the Kouing Aman at Les Madeleines was far and away my favorite. As for the other restaurants I tried, check out SLC Night.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

SLC Morning: Vosen's

In the left-hand display case, Nusskipferl is top-left
and Plunderschnecke is top, second from right.
Part of the series SLC: Morning, Noon & Night.

• • •

Looking in the display case, my eyes and my stomach were at a stalemate. The woman behind the counter said, in a German accent, that I could take my time.

The pastries at Vosen's are huge. 1980s mobile phone huge. Hollow it out for your toddler to use as Crocs huge. And they all looked delectable. I needed to phone a friend.

I confided in the polite German woman. I told her I'd narrowed it down, but couldn't decide. I knew I was getting the apricot jelly croi-liner (croissant/berliner hybrid AKA cronut, were the name not trademarked), but couldn't decide between the plunderschnecke (custard-filled spiral pastry) and the nusskipferl (hazelnut croissant).

Danke schön, Vosen's!
"That is a tough decision," she agreed. "You like custard?"


"You like hazelnut?"


"Hmm...You choose one and I'll throw in the other."

This is where indecision and high tipping meet.

Each of the pastries were good in their own way. The apricot jelly croiliner, while the smallest, was enough for breakfast by itself. It was more oily than a doughnut (on account of its flaky, absorbent layers), but the jelly and custard cut through really well. The nusskipferl was a dense pastry filled with hazelnut butter/paste that consistency-wise was somewhere between peanut butter and the marzipan that often fills almond croissants. It put more emphasis on the hazelnut flavor than it did being sugar-y sweet. The dough of the plunderschneke, my favorite, was also dense and yellow. There were bites where the custard was the main event and others where the custard moistened the dough until the two flavors blended together.

Apricot jelly croi-liner.
I wish I had more days in Salt Lake City to come back and try more of the pastries at Vosen's, even branch out into something savory. It definitely was my pick for best breakfast pastry.

In addition to selling breads and pastries, Vosen's also features a small market of imported items, including Ritter Sport chocolate bars, Kinder products and Biscoff brand speculoos spread.

For breakfast pastry downtown, I also tried the très chic Eva's Bakery and the more traditional Banbury Cross Donuts, as well as those I mention in SLC Noon. While both of these were good, I feel Vosen's is the better bet downtown. I had hoped to try a Cherry Limeade doughnut at Beyond Glazed, but unfortunately their downtown location closed. If you are looking for more of a savory and sweet brunch experience, may I recommend the chicken and waffles at Pig & Jelly Jar. Be sure to use both the syrup and the hot sauce.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

SLC: Morning, Noon & Night

View from atop SLC's City Library.
Welcome to Salt Lake City! Home to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the Utah Jazz and uneven sidewalks that are shaved down to accommodate people in wheelchairs!

People here are nice, reeeeeally nice. Even the beggars are polite! It makes sense. Standing in the valley that is downtown and seeing the mountains in every direction, it's no wonder why Brigham Young said to the other LDS pioneers, "This is the place" and settled.

Buildings in foreground are
all part of Temple Square.
Though the streets are wide--wide enough for a horse and wagon to turn around--and the buildings spread out, it is a walkable downtown...if you have a map and the patience of a (latter-day) saint. The city is a grid (easy to follow) where street names are numbers (good so far) based on their relation to the Mormon church's Temple Square (okaaay), meaning there's a 300 N, 300 S, 300 W and 300 E (oh, no) and that intersections have names like E 900 South & S 900 East (please, no) and addresses are like numerical torture devices, 425 South 300 West (make it stop!). To make matters easier(?), locals have nicknamed the streets with shorthand names; E 900 South & S 900 East are referred to as 9th S & 9th E. (Kill me.)

Pictured: the thin line between
healthy curiosity and obsession.
Not only does Salt Lake City have friendly locals and a gorgeous, pedestrian-friendly downtown, but it also features fantastic dining options. Like any good culinary tourist, I did my research beforehand, pouring over articles, review sites and blogs searching for destinations for my Stomach (praise be unto It). Having tried multiple food items at over a dozen of SLC's highest reviewed places, I've narrowed it down to your best bets for both dessert and meals.

Check back here for three more posts covering the best of Salt Lake City: Morning, Noon & Night!

L to R: Pig & Jelly Jar's Chicken and Waffles
Alamexo's Cochinita Pubil and Cucina Tosacna's Halibut Umido

Monday, April 21, 2014

Bobtail Year: Vanilla Morghulis

April is month eleven of my Bobtail Year, two pints of Bobtail Homemade Ice Cream a month for donating to Oracle Theatre.

• • •

I love a challenge. Sure, I'd only seen one episode of "Game of Thrones," but that didn't mean I couldn't play. After a quick search of "Game of Thrones" top quotes/moments, plus some helpful hints from my devoted fan roommates, and I dove right in:
  • Red Wedding: White chocolate ice cream base with strawberries and a raspberry swirl.
  • Winter is Coning: White chocolate ice cream base with shredded coconut and shards of chocolate-covered waffle cones.
  • Dracarys Daiquiri: Lime and strawberry ice cream.
  • Swing the Sword: Red raspberry ice cream with pointy shards of chocolate.
  • Vanilla Morghulis: Vanilla ice cream with the minced remains of raspberries, strawberries and Oreos.
  • White Walker: a white chocolate version of Rocky Road ice cream. White chocolate base with chocolate-covered almonds and other nuts with chocolate-covered marshmallow and chocolate chunks.
  • Warg Tracks: Chocolate truffles and marshmallows in peanut butter ice cream.
  • Kingslayer: Strawberry ice cream with chocolate covered granola.
  • This One's Name is 'Worm': Blackberry ice cream with blackberries and gummy worms.
  • Hunks of Hodor: Chocolate ice cream with soft cookie pieces, chocolate chunks and nuts.
  • Dragon's Breath: Cream cheese ice cream with a jalapeno jelly swirl.
  • Blood Magic: Miracle berry ice cream...with pop rocks. 
My show of force left my competitors slain, nothing but vanquished corpses in my some great flavor ideas other folks came up with. I ate their cold, black hearts like ice cream, licking their blood from my fingers like dribbles off a cone. And while I did it, I laughed at their hubris, chuckling a brash, "Mwa-ha-ha!" TL;DR: They used one of my flavor names and I won the contest.

What does victory taste like? If you were a winner, you'd know. Sweet vanilla. Whole cherries. Crispy brownie bits. One pint wasn't enough.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Bobtail Year: Thin Mint

March is month ten of my Bobtail Year, two pints of Bobtail Homemade Ice Cream a month for donating to Oracle Theatre. 

 • • •

I rushed to Bobtail the first chance I had when they announced an ice cream using Girl Scouts® Thin Mints® cookies. I had a history with this flavor concept, but the two of us had been estranged for many years for reasons I will explain now.

In the grocery store freezer aisle lurks an ice cream imposter known as "frozen dairy dessert." This method of fine-print labeling is used by brands such as Edy's/Dreyer's and Breyers to cut costs, essentially selling the consumer "ice cream" that doesn't actually use cream as a top-tier ingredient. (Often the major ingredient is whey, a substance made famous by an arachnophobic tuffet enthusiast.) Despite its reduced quality and lower cost of production, frozen dairy dessert is sold for the same price as the mass-produced ice cream, even in the "luxury ice cream" section. With deceptive labeling (e.g. the words "ice cream" do not appear on Breyers Blasts) and making appeals to the health conscious crowd (e.g. selling corn-syrup-laden "lite ice cream" whose recipe's central difference is that more air whipped in...Seriously, if you hold both half gallon, you can feel the weight difference. It is the same product, just less of it for the same price), national brands keep their costs low enough that their shoddy products always have retail prices below that of regional brands that use legitimate ingredients to make real ice cream. As a result, the amount of actual ice cream in the "ice cream aisle" is decreasing on an annual basis, especially as brands are jumping on the gelato band wagon to sell a snazzier-sounding, less-regulated product name to sell a "gelato" that has very little in common with the genuine form of its namesake. (If all of this sounds familiar, it's because brands like Hershey's have been doing the same thing, selling a product that is FDA-approved to be called "chocolate" regardless of whether or not it includes a noticeable percentage of cocoa butter or cocoa mass, cutting it with vegetable oil and other fillers.)

The purpose of my rant is this: Edy's/Dreyer's used to make ice cream bearing the official Girl Scouts® logo and Thin Mints® name. But the annual joy of seeing this flavor died the year I discovered that the labeling has changed from "ice cream" to "frozen dairy dessert." (Bravely, I tried the imposter. It had an airy Cool-Whip-meets-marshmallow-fluff-meets-mousse texture and, oddly, wouldn't get as cold as ice cream. My burps tasted like empty calories.) Then, in the past few years, Breyers won the Girl Scouts® contract, but they, too, spit in opportunity's face by creating another frozen dairy dessert monstrosity.

With the fate of Girl Scouts® ice cream in the red hands of corporate America, it is up to the local scoop shops to revive an ice cream that uses Thin Mints® cookies (albeit using a non-trademarked name, such as Thin Mint singular). And, with the help of troop #20308, Bobtail answered the call.

Two things are noticeable when I cracked open my pint of Bobtail's Thin Mint: the ice cream base is white (meaning mint, not mint chocolate like the grocery offerings have been) and the ice cream is PACKED with cookies. The mint of the base is present in the flavor, but only to complement (not overpower) the chocolate of the cookies. (Still, a mint chocolate base might be an improvement.) The cookies maintain their crunch and the crunch fills up nearly every bite. But, flavor analysis aside the true test of whether the ice cream lives up to its namesake cookie is whether I consume far too much of it than I originally intended. (I may or may not have known the shame of eating an entire sleeve of Thin Mints cookies, even before this year's smaller box.) And, sure enough, Bobtail's flavor passes the ate-too-much-yet-not-enough test. Here's hoping I can stand to wait another year for it to reappear.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Bobtail Year: Chocolate Covered Strawberry

February is month nine of my Bobtail Year, two pints of Bobtail Homemade Ice Cream a month for donating to Oracle Theatre.

 • • •
Dearest Strawberry,

Ask any seasoned couple and they can tell you when they first fell in love. It should come as no surprise then when I tell you that I remember when I was first introduced to a certain Strawberry and Goat Cheese ice cream, back when you went by that name. For weeks, I'd heard my friends talk about you and had looked forward to when I would meet such a vibrant and charismatic personality. Then one magical evening at Bobtail in 2010, fate brought us together. From the very first moment, I knew you were no ordinary strawberry and that I would dream of you for years to come.

When you first arrived, I was still fairly new in town myself. To me, you were the lights in the Chicago skyline. But, as it does for everyone, time passes and relationships change. You were carving out your own identity, one separate from goat cheese. Without that edgier side, you were just as beautiful as the day we met, but still I found myself missing your feisty, take-me-as-I-am spirit. There's no need to rehash about that rough period we went through, when I was seeing other flavors. I only bring it up so I can make one thing absolutely clear: While I did miss your adventurous side, I never stopped loving you, Strawberry.

Those love fires may have been burning low, but they were burning all the same. I couldn't help but reminisce every one of those times we ran into one another at Bobtail. I get the feeling those brief encounters also left you dreaming of that magical evening years ago when we first met.

By the time February rolled around, I couldn't stand it anymore. I had to have you again. Little did I know that you had been thinking of reinventing yourself once more. Just in time for Valentine's Day, you unveiled yourself as Chocolate Covered Strawberry. While time had shown me that it was you I missed and not the frills, can you blame me for being allured by this new experimental side?

Look at you! I could just eat you up!
Ask any couple about how they keep the thrills coming in their more private moments and they'll say, "You have to spice it up." For me, the chocolate flake accoutrements gave you a new bite; they were black as leather and tasty as edible undies. But while I enjoyed this new kinky side, I remembered that it was your foundation as a flavor that really made you all that you are. Your rosy color and sweet disposition are exactly what I've been searching for all these years, no matter what form you may take. What I say to you now, I say for a lifetime: I would have you in my mouth anytime.