Saturday, June 9, 2012

Ep2: Most Definitely Not Less Than

A blurry beacon of brumal bounty.
Since first hearing of Graeter's from one-time guest blogger Jill, I've noticed the company gets mentioned in almost every conversation I have with people about "favorite ice cream." But why trust my friends and acquaintances? Oprah, one of the company's celebrity fans, is rumored to have their Butter Pecan shipped directly to her mouth. Beyond this vote of confidence, Graeter's is frequently featured on best ice cream lists in travel and food magazines/websites. Needless to say, they had a lot to live up to as Boren and I, having driven for seven hours that day, barreled into Columbia a mere 14 minutes before they closed.

Graeter's has many shops, but we targeted this particular location because it offered free self-guided tours of the factory. Driving up, it was immediately clear that the parlor might actually be larger than the factory. Still, after a painstaking amount of consideration was put into sampling and ordering, the tour provided all the information I needed to better understand the happy dance happening in my mouth. Here, I'll let you copy my notes:

Their ice cream is made using the French Pot process, which is a small-batch method similar to home ice cream makers. The main benefit of this inefficient process is a denser, creamier ice cream with less air whipped into it. Tasting the product, I couldn't deny that the texture of Graeter's ice cream was different, smoother and more stuck to itself. But even better than the texture of the ice cream was that of the chocolate chips. I read that instead of using solid chunks of chocolate, Graeter's pours in liquid chocolate. By doing this, the chocolate chips in flavors like Black Raspberry Chip (my favorite) and Chocolate Chocolate Chip are soft, yielding and far more flavorful than the chalky snap of most chocolate chunks.

After my foray into speed learning, I treated myself to a second helping of ice cream, effectively making myself both the last and next-to-last customer before closing for the evening. As we made our exit, Boren and I pumped some Kanye and sped our way to Akron.


Not near Ohio? I am elated to report that Graeter's packaged pints have become more widely available this year. Since I took this road trip with Boren, I have found the pints at both Fresh Market and Kroger grocery stores. Use the Graeter's store finder to locate some near you. Of the flavors offered, nearly all the grocery store varieties feature their signature chocolate chips, including Black Raspberry Chip! It may be more expensive than other luxury ice creams, but remember it's denser! (According to the tour, a pint of Graeter's should actually weigh more than a pint of another brand.) Besides, you really should treat yourself now and again...and now. For best results, consume immediately upon arriving home from the grocery store, when it is less hard and closest to the quintessential French Pot texture.

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