Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Lick Me Everywhere Stimulus Plan

Last night's SOTU was not only kind of a snooze, it also missed the mark.  America doesn't need another Sputnik moment.  It needs more ice cream shops - ice cream shops that sell delicious flavors like Gingerbread Crumble, Burnt Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Oats and Walnut.  Ice cream shops that buy from local farmers, that employ local people, and that use American-made equipment.  That is how we will win the future!

That's the message I took from Kendra Baker and Zach Davis, the founders of the Penny Ice Creamery in Santa Cruz, who sat with Michelle Obama at the SOTU address last night.  Here's their sweet little video, in which they thanked the politicians who made their $250,000 loan possible by voting for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

So I say, more artisanal ice cream shops, less defense spending.  I wonder if I could get elected on this platform.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Top Chef: Just Desserts finalist joins LA Creamery

She looks nice.  Photo courtesy of LA Eater.

LA Eater reports that chef Danielle Keene is joining the artisan ice cream shop LA Creamery as Corporate Pastry Chef.  Here are some of the new flavors allegedly in the works:

Hot Chocolate flavored with chili powder, cinnamon, vanilla bean and cocoa nibs; Milk Chocolate Chai flavored with black tea and seven spices; Sassafras flavored with sassafras bark; Honeycomb ice cream layered with handmade honeycomb seafoam candy; Roasted Banana made with fresh bananas roasted with brown sugar and butter until caramelized, then blended in a lightly flavored rum base; and a non dairy Chocolate Sorbet made with bittersweet chocolate, sugar and water.

None of those strike me as too original but the Milk Chocolate Chai could be interesting.  Speaking of which, here's a link to my world-famous chai recipe and an accompanying article on Poetry of Food.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Cold Stone Creamery = Fancy Ice Cream?

I'm not sure what his go-to ice cream is, but Dow Jones newswriter Al Lewis sure threw me a curveball when it turned out the "fancy" ice cream he describes in a recent article was actually Cold Stone Creamery.  By "fancy," does he mean "expensive"?  Or "overpriced"?  Or maybe "gross"?  According to Lewis' article, Cold Stone's sales grew over 20% from 2005 to 2007, but then plunged over 11% in 2008.  The president of Cold Stone, Dan Beem, onto a bus, and hit 16 cities in an effort to figure out how to keep the franchises profitable in a dismal economy.  A few of the solutions they've hit on:

"Next month, Cold Stone is rolling out warm treats to counter the cold weather: brownies, churros and funnel cakes. Come Spring, it will add yogurt to compete with the frozen-yogurt craze that Pinkberry has re-ignited."
The "Cheesecake Fantasy" Signature Creation from Cold Stone Creamery

It's not clear whether or not any of those execs tasted the ice cream.  If so, they might have figured out why sales are dropping.

Incidentally, Cold Stone, which bills itself as "the ultimate ice cream experience," was the subject of a recent nightmare had by a friend of mine.   After he awoke sweaty and trembling (ok, I made that part up), he wrote me to say: As in real life, it's a cavernous nightmare of overpriced ice cream -- people mashing ghastly things like cookie dough and tomatoes into boysenberry sherbert, that sort of thing. Dream-Me was so revolted by the whole spectacle that I just stole as much cookie dough as I could and then got kicked out of the shop.

I shared my own experience with Cold Stone, whose ice cream I found to be heavy, too sweet and pretty tasteless:

The last (and only) time I went to Coldstone Creamery was in 2003 when I was an intern at Vogue.  It had just opened, and CN had just moved to Times Square, and all the girls were talking about incessantly.  I suggested to the other interns that we go after work one day, a suggestion greeted with open horror because (I had forgotten) never would any of them have permitted something so caloric within two hundred feet of their starved, sad little bodies.  I convinced one reasonable colleague to accompany me, at least, and I ordered some abomination that, since you mentioned it, probably included cookie dough.  I did not steal it.  I do remember it being overpriced.

The worst part about this whole excursion was that, unlike your dream, it really happened.

Anyone out there have a Cold Stone experience, real or imagined, delicious or dreadful, to share?

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Pint-sized Haagen Dazs pints

The Daily News reports today that as commodities prices rise, food companies are shrinking package sizes.  Not like the smaller cap on Poland Spring bottles that saves plastic, but actually quantitatively less food. Small children in America already grow up with our confusing non-metric, or customary, measurement system, and now to confuse them further, a gallon is 59 ounces, according to Tropicana, and a pint is 14 ounces, if you trust Haagen Dazs.  I never trusted them much to begin with.
Monaster News, via the Daily News

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Best lead sentence of the year, so far

From the Bellingham Herald, a newspaper in Washington.  Oh boy.

"Despite temperatures below freezing Sunday night, Jan. 2, a hungry man stole an ice cream cake from Dairy Queen and scarfed it down, according to police."
I really love "...and scarfed it down, according to police."  I wonder if "scarfed" was the word used in the police report.

Adam S. Wilgus, 24, the culprit, later told officers "he didn't have enough money to pay for the cake and was hungry. He also told officers he had eaten the cake while he was driving and had thrown the box out the window..."

The story continues:

"The 10-inch, round cake, which was worth about $24, was chocolate and vanilla with fudge and cookie crumbles on the inside, said the Dairy Queen's area supervisor and former cake manager, Amanda Armstrong."

Wilgus, whose last known address was in Blaine, was booked into Whatcom County Jail for investigation of theft and an unrelated warrant for disorderly conduct."

He's behind bars.  You are safe.  For now.

Read more:

Two of my favorite things, together: David Hasselhoff + ice cream

Photo by ICON/Fame pictures, courtesy of Celebrity Smack Blog (whatever that is)
Some things were destined to be together, and David Hasselhoff + ice cream promotion are certainly two phenomena that fit together so naturally that one wonders why this didn't happen, say, 20 years earlier when he was actually on TV. 

For me, he was more of a draw before he went gray and when he looked like he could truly save me if I was to start drowning.  Now he looks like one of those grandpas who's gearing up for a 5K but will probably not make it past 50 meters. 

Always and forever The Hoff.
That said, he clearly has not lost his touch with the ladies, or at least the Australian ladies.  Or at least the Australian ladies who dressed up in red swimsuits to impersonate Baywatch lifeguards for the sake of promoting a mass-produced  "tangy fruit product" (ask Unilever about that one) called "Splice."

Monday, January 3, 2011

Anorexic model tasted ice cream before she died

From her blog

Last night my mom told me about a news story from last week that I had missed, about the death of Isabelle Caro, a French fashion model who struggled with anorexia from her earliest days.  It was a very, very sad story to begin with, but what truly touched me, and not simply because I'm obsessed with ice cream, is that according to the New York Times obituary, she wrote on her blog:

“I still eat almost nothing, but I’ve stopped vomiting,” she said after her photo shoot for Nolita. “I have started to distinguish tastes of things. I have tried ice cream — it’s delicious.” 

This comment reminded me, in some strange way, of the two people who held hands before they jumped out of the burning World Trade Center building.  A small human gesture to which we can all relate, against a background of something much larger and much less comprehensible. 

I looked on her blog and couldn't find that entry, but it did make me think about the way certain foods serve different intellectual/physical roles.  Ice cream, to an anorexic, is absolutely forbidden.  It is decadent, full of sugar and fat, one of the world's most popular treats, never to be savored.  And in denying one's self that luxury, the anorexic can find a deeply satisfying sense of power.  Curious how I know these things?  I used to have my own issues.  I never had enough discipline to be anorexic but like a lot of young women growing up surrounded by fashion magazines etc I also associated my self-worth with my appearance.  It's still not easy to enjoy ice cream 100% without any guilt, but luckily I'm pretty active and try and ride my bike places and not eat too much other junk food.  Anyway, my condolences to Ms. Caro's family.

Update: It is winter. That means chestnut ice cream at Grom.

It is winter.  There was a blizzard.  Michael Bloomberg did not handle it well. 

That is the bad news.

The good news is that Grom's marron glacé flavor is back.  It is best paired with the regular chocolate ice cream (not the dark chocolate sorbet; that flavor is for masochists and sophisticates).  Also be sure to ask for the chestnut flavor first because whichever flavor you request first they will give you a bigger scoop of that one.

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