We are nearing the peak of the summer holidays in the northern hemisphere and the temperature is certainly heating up in National Ice Cream month. What do you do? Why, cool down of course!
National Ice Cream Month
July is ice cream month and the National Ice Cream month event is celebrated every third Sunday. Although National Ice Cream month was started in the United States after President Ronald Reagan’s proclamation in 1984, this celebration has long since become a worldwide phenomenon.
There are certainly many different types of icy treats to choose from. There’s ice cream of course, frozen yogurt, gelato and snow cones among others. In celebration of National Ice Cream month, let us tour the world and find out where to get delicious and refreshing icy treats.
Let us begin National Ice Cream month in my backyard, right here in Texas. We happen to have one of the best ice cream brands that fill the shelves of almost every grocery in the country: Blue Bell Ice Cream. Their headquarters is somewhere deep in the heart of Texas and you can pretty much guarantee that every single cobbler served in the southern states will have an accompanying scoop of its homemade vanilla flavour.
The next stop in National Ice Cream month brings us to the lakeside city of Burlington in Vermont where the duo of Ben and Jerry started its ice cream empire. They started churning ingredients in an old gas station in 1978 and the rest was history. Ben and Jerry’s concoctions are full of flavour. They spare no expense when it comes to ingredients and they are certainly not afraid to experiment. Chunky Monkey, Cherry Garcia, and Phish Food are just some of the original flavours they came up with.
Let us leave the grocer’s aisles and head south to Savannah, Georgia where families, celebrities, and SCAD students all come to mingle in National Ice Cream month. Leopold’s has been a staple in Georgia since 1919. Their ice cream is rich in flavour but does not feel heavy. They offer both traditional and seasonal flavours that include southern favourites like pumpkin spice, butter pecan, and peach.
Across the country in Los Angeles, California, a couple of infamous shops had its start. The first is on the streets of La Brea, an unassuming ice cream shop called Mashti Malone’s. It made its name by being one of the first to serve Rosewater flavoured ice cream. The owners pride themselves with combining exotic ingredients (i.e. cardamom, saffron) with all natural food elements to create one scoop of blissful happiness.
Pinkberry is another LA native. Though not exactly ice cream, this upscale frozen yogurt shop started the fro-yo craze in the United States. Marketed as a healthier and lighter alternative to ice cream, this tartly, frozen treat took the country by storm. It gave its customers the liberty to mix and match yogurt flavours and come up with their own unique topping combinations. Traditional flavours like vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry were enhanced with gummi bears, fruit loops, fresh fruits or Reeses peanut butter cups.
We cannot possibly talk about icy treats and National Ice Cream month without mentioning Italy’s gelato. Made primarily with milk rather than cream, gelato is softer, denser, and often more flavourful on the palette than ice cream. In Rome’s Gelateria Della Palma, you can indulge on different flavours every day without being able to try them all. The shop is known to carry over 150 flavours on any given day. Choose from traditional Italian favourites like stracciatella, pistachio, or tiramisu or try one of the fruit medleys like blueberry coconut or peach mango.
But with all the gelateria in Italy, who really has the best one? It is almost impossible to choose just one, but in the medieval town of San Gimignano, a tiny shop on the corner of the Piazza del Campo stands Gelateria di Piazza. This unassuming store has been featured in numerous gastronomy shows and has attracted a great deal of local and tourist followers. Sergio Dondoli, master maker, still experiments with different ingredients and makes his own gelato the way he was taught to do. When you get there, try one of his originals, Crema di Santa Fina or Champelmo.
Turkish ice cream known as Dondurma is more than just an icy treat. Its texture is more like taffy than ice cream and its composition makes it less prone to melting in the summer heat. But what really makes it unique is its presentation. It includes a show that is more entertaining than eating the ice cream itself. Servers use long paddle like sticks with a flat edge. They twist and mould the ice cream many times over before serving. The result is a perfectly cast piece of sweet indulgence.
Who says that authentic Italian gelato can only be truly enjoyed in Italy? It is certainly not the case, especially in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where many Italians migrated over the last century. Gelato is just as widely available as empanadas. Freddo’s is one of the country’s hailed heladerias. Even though it is a franchise, it has strict guidelines on production. Which is why it continues to produce some of the best gelato in Argentina.
How is your National Ice Cream month going so far? Let me know if you’ve chanced upon other great creameries somewhere!