If you asked my ten-year old self what my favorite food was, it would be ice cream. I prided myself on how quickly I could finish a medium Carvel cup and boasted to my friends and brothers how brain freezes never deterred me. Though I ate it year round (let’s be honest, who doesn’t), every summer I would look forward to weekly ice cream trips after dinner; messily licking the melting creaminess from my lips and fingers much to the dismay of my mother.
Now, at 19, it is no longer my favorite food, but I still have a soft spot for ice cream in my heart (aka stomach). It was only recently, however, that my eyes and taste buds were opened to the world of artisan ice cream. It all began at college, where the best (read: most fattening) food discoveries are made. Needing to find my fix of the sweet stuff, I began exploring ice cream shops and parlors around campus. I wanted to find the best of the best and made it my mission to do so (sorry tests, papers, other commitments). Nashville is known for amazing food and restaurants so I knew that out there somewhere existed the ice cream of my dreams.
Over the course of my freshman year, I heard the whispers around campus – “Jeni’s,” “Want to go to Jeni’s?” “Oh my god you’ve never been to Jeni’s?” “No, I can’t go to Jeni’s, I went three days in a row last week” (the last one I made up, as no one…no one…says no to Jeni’s). Since I am not deaf and/or blind, it soon became apparent that unless I went to Jeni’s, I would not be a true college student or Nashvillian. During my sophomore year, my friend got a car (hallelujah praise the heavens) and we were able to make trips to the restaurants and eateries of East Nashville. My first Jeni’s trip far exceeded my expectations. To put it lightly, I was transported to heaven.
The minute you walk in you are almost knocked off your feet by the sweet, creamy smell of fresh ice cream. The parlor itself is cool and white and the tables are lined up around a double-sided bench at the center of the room. As you get in line to order, a huge blackboard stretches across the wall behind the bar, listing the countless and ever changing flavors Jeni’s has to offer. One of the greatest things about Jeni’s is that tasting is highly encouraged. Ice cream scoopers appear, ready and willing with a jumble of mini spoons to give you tastes of as many flavors as you wish. Personal favorites of mine are Buckeye State, Brambleberry Crisp and Wildberry Lavender Flavors change based on season, with a few tried and true classics, and are consistently enticing, exotic, and addictive. Let’s just say that once Jeni’s was discovered, my money was all spent “experimenting” the different flavors (well I have to try all of them, don’t I?).
Though my love affair with Jeni’s has now fully blossomed and is extremely dangerous (to both my waistline and bank account), this wonderful store is only one of the millions of artisan ice cream stores in the world. Another ice cream shop I’d love to go it is Salt & Straw in Portland, Oregon. I’ve only been to Portland once for a short trip but I am dying to go back. It is such a cool place. I’ve heard of Salt & Straw through friends, seen their photos on blogs, and read about the magical place in food magazines. Some of the flavors I’m dreaming about are Cinnamon Snickerdoodle, Dandelion Sorbet with Spring Flowers and Chocolate with Gooey Brownies. Next time I’m in Portland Salt & Straw will definitely be my first stop and I will let you guys know what I think!
Overall, this rant just goes to show how obsessed I am with ice cream and how creative and unique some brands get with their flavors! Seriously, with all this variety, I know I’ll never run out of delicious new tastes to try.