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The End of Summer Ice Cream Binge

August 22, 2018

Before leaving for Philadelphia, I had started eating a bit healthier. One of the key pillars of this was the avoidance of ice cream.

Ice cream is one of the easy things for me to give up. If I can keep it out of the house, I won’t eat it. All I have to do is steer clear from The Dutch Udder in Troy or wherever Jeff and Kem decide to pull up their mobile cart.

Do I miss it? Sure. But I don’t crave it the same way I crave things like butter.

Well, things went off the rails in Pennsylvania. First there was all the water ice. Then my cousin introduced me to the farm fresh ice cream place with that amazing brownie sundae. So by the time I made it out to the farm, my resolve was low. And that meant three trips to The Meadows, which is a frozen custard chain in the Keystone State. And that was in addition to a local soft serve spot called The Cow where I had my annual ice cream soda.

When I came home, I knew that I had the Tour de Soft Serve looming on Saturday. But that would be okay, because I don’t even like soft serve. It’s not really ice cream. Still, I do these tours because they are fun. And…um…science.

Then, I got word that AOA wanted to do an ice cream tasting. Who could say no?

The full AOA story can be found here. But the idea was to get a few tasters together and eat through all the seasonal flavors from Stewart’s before the season is over.

As always it was great to see Albany Jane and Jon in Albany. Surprisingly the amount of pizza talk was pretty low. We got a chance to catch up a bit. But eating and evaluating six different ice cream flavors requires a fair bit of concentration.

Little Miss Fussy even came along for the ride. Her scoresheet was intensely critical with such gems as, “over syruped, but good strong blueberry”.

If you read the story on AOA, I’m giving out bonus points for those who can correctly attribute the quotes from my own score sheet. How well do you know the Profussor?

Sometimes I don’t know myself, because in the end, my favorite flavor was the one a reasonable observer might think I would hate: Campfire S’moreo. You may recall, I wrote a piece once about how I hate s’mores.

It’s true. I still hate them.

But it’s not the flavor combination. Really, it’s the textures and the proportions. And maybe the quality of the generally used ingredients. Hershey’s milk chocolate? No thanks.

The flavors themselves can go really well together. Does anyone remember my tale of the s’mores vodka shot from the Girl Scouts Cookies & Cocktails fundraiser a couple years back? And while we were in Altoona at the Mallo Cup factory, I thought of how I might enrobe one of these chocolate and marshmallow cups in a graham cracker batter, so that the whole thing could be deep fried.

As a side note, this is why I don’t own a deep fryer.

At Stewart’s they say the ice cream base is toasted marshmallow. I’ll take them at their word for it. But to me, there were a few elements that made this ice cream a success.

#1 So much graham cracker. That sweet, almost maltly graininess, is the dominant flavor. And in ice cream, the grittiness of graham isn’t nearly as objectionable as it is beside a bonfire on a beach. It gives the ice cream plenty of crispy bits which make it fun to eat.

#2 Chocolate cookie pieces. There were a lot of these too. Not only did these help to add even more more crunch and texture to the ice cream, they also added a contrasting bitterness. Those dark brown disks used to make Oreo sandwich cookies are just chock full of cocoa powder.

Did it taste like a s’more to me? Absolutely not. Which is precisely why I enjoyed it.

Little Miss Fussy came up with a clever idea. Before we left Stewart’s, Jon made sure we tried a scoop (or two) of the new Civility ice cream. It’s vanilla with a swirl of salty caramel and no nuts.

She thought this would be disgusting, but then was pleasantly surprised with how good salted caramel could be in ice cream. Still, it left her wanting a little more complexity. Her solution was to pair this newest flavor with the Chocolate Caramel Tornado from the summer menu.

Since I had already fallen off the wagon, yesterday she and I split a cup of her new combination. What can I tell you. She nailed it. The duet was delicious.

Oddly though, I’m still craving another cup of s’moreo.

I’ll be strong. I’ve been exercising, and eating more vegetables. I’ve already dropped a few pounds from the trip. And with the Tour de Soft Serve on Saturday, I need to clean up my act. Fortunately, Yom Kippur is just around the corner.

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