Now that summer flings are a thing of the past (marriage puts a damper on that kind of thing), I've always felt like a nice summer obsession is a good way to go. Last summer I was obsessed with taking pictures of inanimate objects that had faces. Like this:
But this summer, it seems to be ice cream, as I've been trying my hand at making my own. It started a few months ago when I was thinking about my favorite ice cream as a kid and was then determined to recreate it. Nothing stays with you quite like a memory of something you looked forward to as a kid. For me, it was this special soft-serve ice cream sold at an amusement park outside of Cincinnati called Kings Island.
They used to have a "smurf" ride, kind of like "It's a Small World" at Disney World, only with smurfs. After the ride, there was a strategically-placed ice cream stand that sold blue "smurf" ice cream, and it was the best thing I ate all year. I coudn't even tell you what flavor it was, it was just blue. Blue raspberry? I don't know, maybe. Blueberry? I don't think so. But it was better than pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Better than hot chocolate at Christmas. For the summer in Ohio, you looked forward to a few things ... swimming, no school, and smurf ice cream.
For the Ohioans around my age, there was a very distressing time in our adolescence ... when they took that smurf ride down and replaced it with a haunted house. Since there were no more smurfs, there was no more smurf ice cream ... they changed the name to "Dino" ice cream because of a Flintstones ride nearby, but it was never the same. Somehow Dino just didn't fit with the blue. Dino was purple. It was a sad time.
Now that I live in New Orleans, the chances of going back to Kings Island to see if they still have that ice cream stand in some incarnation are pretty nil, so I figured that I'd try to create it myself. So far, I haven't gotten it right, but I'm not going to give up.
I have, however, made some pretty amazing avocado coconut, bananas foster, strawberry buttermilk, and chocolate ice creams. Also, a bangin' banana split for the 4th of July.
And now that I've got all these flavors in my head, and all these ideas, I've been asking people what I should make next, and I feel now that I can tell a lot about someone by their favorite ice cream flavor.
Most people will try to be creative, and that's cool, but If someone tells me something like, "sriracha ice cream", I have to fight not to roll my eyes too hard. And if someone tells me that they like something like straight-up chocolate, I feel like that person knows themselves pretty well. They know what they like and are not afraid to admit it. No nonsense. Unpretentious. My kind of person.
For New Orleans, the big summer treat is the Sno Ball, but lately I've just been wanting to try good old-fashioned ice cream (nope, not fro-yo), and since learning how to make it myself, buying it at the supermarket just doesn't cut it anymore. The good stuff is in the shops, and fortunately, we have plenty of options. Here are my current faves:
La Divina Cafe
I like this place because it's relatively close to me. I can hop on my bike and head into the FQ for a fix. I've found that most of the best ice cream places are unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) on the other side of town from me.
Quintin's Ice Cream
This is probably hands down, my favorite ice cream. Quintin's coconut ice cream is a dream. Like one of those really awesome and naughty dreams that you don't want to wake up from.
The Creole Creamery
If I find myself on Prytania, I must stop here. It's a requirement.
It's famous for a reason!
I'm probably missing several great places around town, but that's just because I haven't tried them yet. I can only consume so many calories. But if you have suggestions, I love to hear them. Also, there's nothing like the tried and true Blizzard from Dairy Queen, but I haven't had one of those since moving down here, as there are definitely no Dairy Queens around where I live.