Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Iran penetrates the Green Zone...with ice cream

Credit: Liz Sly, Washington Post
Liz Sly, formerly of the Chicago Tribune and now with the Washington Post, did a fun little story last week about IcePack, an Iranian ice cream chain making headway in Iraq - in the Green Zone, no less.  I'm not sure that a few ice cream stores, albeit ones from a chain that claims to "exalt the name of Iran and reinforce Iranian Identity", truly represent a big Iranian challenge to America.  Wasn't there some kerfuffle about a nuclear program?  Or something?

My other issue with this story is that I don't see a single description of the ice cream's taste or quality.  I don't even know whether this is soft-serve or scooped!  Nor can this information be garnered with certainty from Icepack's throwback website, where the four specialties on offer are named the "Multi Fruit", "Multi Mix", "Ice Pack" and "Special Ice Pack".  They are largely distinguishable in the photos by the fact that they come in different styles of paper cup.

Still, it's good to know Iraq is gaining enough relative security that people can go out and enjoy ice cream.  This is a recurrent trope in the works of a few other contemporary writers on Iraq, such as the feminist scholar Nadje Al-Ali and the blogger Salam Pax, who often mention Iraqis going out for evening ice creams as a sign of normalcy and peace.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Professional Foray #14: DC does gelato, and how: Dolcezza, Dupont Circle

DC does a few things right.  Museums.  Air quality.  Indian food, namely at Rasika, where I had quite possibly the best Indian meal I've ever had.  Chinese food, humor and politics are not its strengths.

Gelato, it turns out, is.  Dolcezza, of which there are three locations in the DC area, is some of the finest gelato I've tasted in America, on a par with Grom or Cones.  The location near Dupont is clean, mostly white, intimate and rustic, like the sophisticated little cafes that dot the historical town centers of the wealthy cities in northern Italy.  It's owned by an Argentine woman, Violetta Edelman, and her husband Rob Duncan, who source everything from local farmers.  You can read their Michael Pollan-esque odes to their farmer friends on their website.  Almost everyone gets described as "some of the nicest folks we know."

Irrespective of how kind the farmers are, and how much Violetta and Rob adore them, this is some spanking good gelato.  My friend Liz and I had the ginger cardamom pistachio, the pumpkin spice (with nutmet, allspice, clove, cinnamon and ginger), and the chocolate with ancho, chipotle and cinnamon.  The pistachio flavor was particularly unique, reminiscent of mann w' salwa, a cardamom-pistachio flavor I'd heretofore only eaten in the Middle East, where that combination is used often in nougat candies.  As in most cases, the addition of ginger made it even more delicious.  The pumpkin flavor features locally-grown Crookneck pumpkins, a sweet variety of squash they bake with spices before folding it into cream sourced from a Pennsylvania dairy.

I'm nearing my wit's end with the preciousness of local this and small farmer that (even though I prefer to shop, eat and generally live that way, I'm tired of talking and reading about it all the time), so I won't dwell further on how great all of these efforts are.  The important thing is taste, and this gelato tastes wonderful.  It's creamy and light on the tongue, goes down easy, and you don't need to drink a lot of water while you eat it, which is how you know if it's too rich or heavy.  I was able to go to dinner a half-hour later, and eat another giant Indian meal.  And if Dolcezza wasn't closed by the time we finished, I would have had another cone.  Dolcezza, 1705 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC, 202 299 9116,

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