We are nearing the peak of the summer holidays in the northern hemisphere and the temperature is certainly heating up. What do you do? Why cool down of course! There are certainly many different types of icy treats to choose from. There’s ice cream of course, frozen yogurt, gelato and snow cones among others. In celebration of National Ice Cream month, let us tour the world and find out where to get delicious and refreshing icy treats.
Let us begin in my backyard, right here in Texas. We happen to have one of the best ice cream brands that fill the shelves of almost every grocery in the country: Blue Bell Ice Cream. Their headquarters is somewhere deep in the heart of Texas and you can pretty much guarantee that every single cobbler served in the southern states will have an accompanying scoop of its homemade vanilla flavor.
Let us leave the grocer’s aisles and head south to Savannah, Georgia where families, celebrities, and SCAD students all come to mingle. Leopold’s has been a staple in Georgia since 1919. Their ice cream is rich in flavor but does not feel heavy. They offer both traditional and seasonal flavors that include southern favorites like pumpkin spice, butter pecan, and peach.
Across the country in Los Angeles, California, a couple of infamous shops had its start. The first is on the streets of La Brea, an unassuming ice cream shop called Mashti Malone’s. It made its name by being one of the first to serve Rosewater flavored ice cream. The owners pride themselves with combining exotic ingredients (i.e. cardamom, saffron) with all natural food elements to create one scoop of blissful happiness.
Pinkberry is another LA native. Though not exactly ice cream, this upscale frozen yogurt shop started the fro-yo craze in the United States. Marketed as a healthier and lighter alternative to ice cream, this tartly frozen treat took the country by storm. It gave its customers the liberty to mix and match yogurt flavors and come up with their own unique topping combinations. Traditional flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry were enhanced with gummi bears, fruit loops, fresh fruits or Reeses peanut butter cups.
We cannot possibly talk about frozen treats without mentioning Italy’s gelato. Made primarily with milk rather than cream, gelato is softer, denser, and often more flavorful on the palette than ice cream. In Rome’s Gelateria Della Palma, you can indulge on different flavors every day without being able to try them all. The shop is known to carry over 150 flavors on any given day. Choose from traditional Italian favorites like stracciatella, pistachio, or tiramisu or try one of the fruit medleys like blueberry coconut or peach mango.
But with all the gelateria in Italy, who really has the best one? It is almost impossible to choose just one, but in the medieval town of San Gimignano, a tiny shop on the corner of the piazza del campo stands Gelateria di Piazza. This unassuming store has been featured in numerous gastronomy shows and has attracted a great deal of local and tourist followers. Sergio Dondoli, master maker, still experiments with different ingredients and makes his own gelato the way he was taught to do. When you get there, try one of his originals, Crema di Santa Fina or Champelmo.
Turkish ice cream known as dondurman is more than just an icy treat. Its texture is more like taffy than ice cream and its composition makes it less prone to melting in the summer heat. But what really makes it unique is its presentation. It includes a show that is more entertaining than eating the ice cream itself. Servers use long paddle like sticks with a flat edge. They twist and mold the ice cream many times over before serving. The result is a perfectly cast piece of sweet indulgence.
Who says that authentic Italian gelato can only be truly enjoyed in Italy? It is certainly not the case, especially in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where many Italians migrated over the last century. Gelato is just as widely available as empanadas. Freddo’s is one of the country’s hailed heladerias. Even though it is a franchise, it has strict guidelines on production. Which is why it continues to produce some of the best gelato in Argentina.
One of The Philippines’ best culinary creations is halo-halo. Made with crushed ice, evaporated milk, and a mixture of tropical fruits preserves, this colorful mixture is a standard dessert option in many restaurants across the country. Halo-halo can sometimes be topped with leche flan, the Filipino version of Spanish flan, and purple yam ice cream, known locally as ube ice cream.