An Ode to the local iced cream shop of every-which-where.

In this neighborhood, north of downtown Nashville, this is a very discreet sign!

In Nashville, Tennessee there’s Mike’s Ice Cream for wonderful made-in-house ice creams (I love their moose tracks, but everything is delicious and seems impeccably made! But watch out for the waffle cones: delicious but sometimes not structurally sound. Grab a bowl for backup) and Bobbie’s Dairy Dip for creative shake flavors (not, perhaps, crazy amazing ice cream, but as you see at the bottom of the post, they throw in the bacon and the cayenne pepper to stay up with these new fangled days we live in!). In Champaign, Illinois there’s Custard Cup for delicious richer-than-you-might-be-able-to-handle fresh custard (lemon and cold fudge make a surprisingly refreshing combination!) and Cocomero for over a dozen flavors and even more toppings (including fresh fruit and asian style toppings–or bing! That means ice. In Mandarin anyway. As in a bowl with a snow cone covered in fruit or other goodies that’s popular in Taiwan durring the long summers there.) that I’d say is as good as PinkBerry but with more variety and you serve yourself. In NYC there’s PinkBerry (is that cheating? nah).  In DC they are probably ever changing and all over, but I had a beautiful adventure with everything I tried at one west of the river… if only I could remember their name. (It could have been the Dairy Godmother?) There are so many everywhere it seems it’s hard to even count. There’s great places that do a great impression of italian gelato from up around WI and MI that ship to the midwest. Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont is good, and even good in the dairy case, but let’s get back to ones that aren’t shipped. Southern California has the best (and sometimes the most mediocre) frozen yogurt of anywhere I’ve been and is fantastic solo in its plain, tart form. I can’t remember the name of the place my family gets it, but I know it’s really great. The bay area seems littered with in-house made gelato and ice cream shops and even by northern, chilly Seattle it seems you can get dozens of locally made pints in groceries. I don’t know if the US had such an abundance of wonderus shops when I was a kid, but I certainly am glad for it now.

Ever since I started making my own iced cream with a freezer bowl I’ve come to appreciate much more a good texture that’s not too sticky or gummy and doesn’t have too large ice crystals. It can be a tricky place to find and can change as it ages. The iced coconut milk “ice creams” were great when I made them, but quickly grew ice crystals and, while still delicious, became texturally more like a snow cone-ice cream hybrid. Making ice cream with a custard base is definitely a way to get an edge up both at the beginning, but especially as it ages over time.

No one seems to write odes anymore. But I thought I’d include a third part anyway. Even though the first two parts aren’t in meter, don’t rhyme, and can’t be said to be in any sort of verse in any case. There. Now it’s an ode. (Ahem. Just read the first paragraph bobbing to your right, and the second to your left and the last in the center. It’ll feel just like the chorus in ancient Greece, I promise.  I never said that this blog wasn’t whimsical. Just sayin’)

And now, a photo stream! I know it’s the middle of winter, but it took me since last summer when I took these to start posting again. And even in the dead of winter it’s nice to remember the warm months, eh? 🙂

Inside Mike's
This is only about half the flavors they make in-house at Mike's! They were are all impressive technically... and very, very delicious. Super texture, well formed bases. Fruits, nuts, caramels, (the nutter-butter flavor was great!): it was the ideal of trendy flavors meeting old-timey hand-done perfection. I hope it lives up to my memory if I visit there again. (: Like most great places there's a line out the door in the evenings.
And Bobbie's Dairy Dip doesn't make its own ice cream, but has fun shakes. Little shacks on the side of the road are almost always better than they look. Not as good as Mike's, but still full of clever flavor combinations.
Some fun shake combinations to try later! (click to read)
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