Monday, June 4, 2012

Ep1: One Last Taste Before I (Chica)go

Sitting in a rental car before a 1,459 mile journey out of Chicago, my stomach had an important decision to make. What final food item should it consume before skipping town indefinitely? I hit the gas and headed to the Ukranian Village. I needed to have Black Dog Gelato's Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel, the best ice cream/gelato flavor in Chicago, one more time.

Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel
pictured at bottom.
This destination, the first of many, is out of the way,* nearly an hour's distance on straight shot pub tran direct from my neighborhood. Still, my pre-rental car self had been known to make the trip--and justify counter-intuitive detours--for their tasty and imaginative gelato flavors. Gelato traditionally is simple: milk and egg with whatever ingredient (chocolate, hazelnut, mixed berry) gives the flavor its name. And though many American gelaterias dodge this convention, it rarely gets more creative than mimicking popular ice cream flavors. Black Dog Gelato is a game changer, frequently offering more oddball gourmet flavors than the traditional gusti.

It is worthy of note that my favorite flavor certainly isn't the only all-star in their freezer. I enjoy most anything they have on their ever-evolving menu from the unique (Avocado Cinnamon, which awakened the dormant dessert quality of avocados) to the simple (Chocolate, which explodes with genuine chocolate flavor as a proper gelato should) to the seasonal (Apple Cider Sorbet, which despite its autumnal qualities is always a good thing). But on this particular day, I was a man on a mission. Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel or bust.

To describe eating this flavor in earthly vocabulary seems unbefitting of the transcendental experience. It would be better if instead I lead you in some guided meditation. Let's get started. Find an active and comfortable sitting posture--perhaps the lotus position--take some deep, cleansing breaths and close your eyes. In your own time, visualize yourself as a cashew living in a gelateria. You've had a long day and grow increasingly weary from the ceaseless slander you receive. ("Nut!" "Legume!" Can't they see I'm a seed?) You feel the heaviness of the day pulling you down, down, down. All you want is to rest on something softer and lighter than a cheesecake. You notice the goat cheese has your sleep number. You feel the billowy goat cheese mattress envelop you while you are pulled down, down, down. In one final motion, you pull a silky layer of caramel over you and drift into sleep, content to drown in comfort. Later, you wake up to a quick and painful death by mastication.

That about sums it up. But eventually, we all must come out of our gelato-induced state of heightened perception. I got back in the rental car, packed it high with an un-Buddhist tie to my material possessions and began my wonderful winding trip to Boston.

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