Despite having parents who eat ice cream almost every day (if they could have it at every meal, they would), until recently I thought I could live happily without ever lifting a dessert spoon again. I know what you’re thinking. Quelle horreur! C’est impossible! I tell you it’s true. When I gave up my 2-liter a day Coca-Cola habit in college in an effort to regain a good night's sleep (caffeine is not my friend), I found, after a few months, I no longer craved sugar. As my tastes matured, I discovered the savory complexity of wine and eating dessert no longer interested me. Since ice cream was never one of my favorites, I didn’t miss it.
I wasn’t always this way. As a child, in the days when parents meant what they said – especially no dessert if you didn’t eat all your dinner – I often choked down vegetables I loathed just to get to anything made with sugar or chocolate. I was so addicted to sugar, one bright summer day my siblings, the neighbors’ kids, and I moved (what felt like) tons of mud because we were all promised a trip to Frosties for a soft serve ice cream cone – with no restriction on size or topping.
Since I was 7-years-old at the time, I was not told how all
that mud found its way into our neighbor’s basement. But it had to go,
so we were enlisted to help. I certainly didn’t mind getting dirty. (I
didn’t have to clean my clothes.) Yet thinking back, I feel a bit
suckered. Was all our hard work worth only that half vanilla/half chocolate
It certainly was for the adults who merely had to shell out cash for 8 ice cream cones in exchange for cleaning out their basement. Of course, they also had to deal with our unbridled excitement (and the subsequent sugar rush) later that night as we piled into their station wagon desperate for our much-deserved payoff. While eating that luscious, cool, sweet cone I know I thought we got the better end of the bargain.
If I hadn’t moved to the West Coast, I probably could never have gone cold turkey. The one flavor that always drew me in was Friendly’s Black Raspberry. Since their stores are only found east of the Mississippi, I easily passed by all the Ben & Jerry’s, Baskin Robbins, Cold Stone Creamery’s and the like for years without any temptation. Haagen Dazs almost got me with their Black Raspberry Dark Chocolate Chunk Swirl, but as good as the BR and DC were together, there was just too much vanilla ice cream in the mix to lure me back after that first pint.
And then it happened. I tasted the Mixed Berry Sorbetto from Gelato Bar at the Taste of the Nation event in Culver City this past June and was overwhelmed by the intense flavor and the smooth texture of a treat made up of merely fruit and water. It made me wonder if perhaps I was missing something. As the weather continued to get warmer, I often thought of that day and the pleasure of the experience almost made me trek to their shop to try it again.
With my parents, the ice-cream lovers, coming to town, I had the perfect excuse. I figured I’d treat them to something special, hoping it was as good as I remembered. Perhaps it had just been the mixture of a hot day with a cool treat.
I quickly discovered I wasn’t wrong.
Since the bar wasn’t busy, I made my way through the various flavors trying to find just the right ones to surprise them with and, lo and behold, found my own new favorite – Blood Orange. Wow. Who knew oranges could create something that refreshing, intense and mind-blowing. I just couldn’t stop eating it. Sure the Burnt Cream and Blueberry Ricotta Cheesecake Gelatos were delicious and creamy, but nothing could match the explosively fruity power of that bright orange confection, which lingered sweetly afterwards for what seemed like hours.
I decided to “treat” them again a few days later just to see if it was as good as I wanted it to be. It was…and so was the Espresso Mascarpone gelato and Dark Chocolate Sorbetto, which was so deeply flavored you never missed the cream. None of us could believe what we were eating was half the calories of the usual brands because it packed in twice the flavor. Sometimes so much so, you were sure your taste buds could stand no more.
I’m not sure what I’m going to do about this newfound love lurking in the back of my mind…except probably go back for more. I’m thankful for the price (tiny scoops begin around $3) and the Gelato Bar’s location – just outside my usual errand route – because otherwise I’m sure I’d find myself there far too often and my waistline just can’t stand the assault. Then I think: It’s only fruit and water, right?
Maybe I have more in common with my parents than I thought.
4342 Tujunga Ave
Studio City, CA 91604
Lisa Dinsmore is a writer and web programmer. She has her own wine blog called Daily Wine Dispatch. She lives with her husband Dave in Los Angeles.
by Chef Mark Shoup