Monday, July 18, 2011

[HOT LIST] Ice cream

(Photo by Nicole Rupersburg)

Did you know that the popular American locution "I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream" originated from a 1927 jazz song of the same title? So next time you see that as the lede in a story about ice cream, go ahead and say "1927 called and it wants its peculiar expression back."

We'll cut to the chase: it's July, it's as hot as Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis as FWBs, and it's also National Ice Cream Month. In metro Detroit you can get your licks of homemade gelato and custard, hand-packed ice cream made from local dairy cows, and quirky flavors with multi-culti twists. Here's five of our faves and a few more for good measure.

#1 Shatila Bakery Dearborn
This place is one of the many reasons you should make yourself more familiar with Dearborn. Just 15 minutes from downtown Detroit and you're in the epicenter of the largest population of people of Arab descent outside of the Middle East. AND their food. Shatila Bakery serves sweet and savory Middle Eastern pastries, from fried kibbie to endless variations on baklava, but they are known best for their super-premium ice creams: rich butterfat ice creams in traditional flavors like chocolate and unique flavors like kashta (a Lebanese dessert similar to a super-rich vanilla). Whole fruit is combined with cream for intensely-flavored apricot and mango, but the pistachio might actually change your life. Try it once and you won't bat an eye at $9 for a quart - it's that good (and they deliver worldwide!).

#2 Nevería La Michoacana
Let's stop talking taco carts for a second: over on Vernor, this place is the real deal for summertime treats. Yes, they have ice cream. They also have a wide array of Mexican popsicles in flavors like cajeta, or caramel, which is more like a caramel-flavored fudgesicle; and frozen fruit bars made with REAL fruit in flavors like guava and pineapple. Get a chocolate-covered frozen banana, or have one of the several flavors of homemade horchata - a Mexican dessert drink made from rice milk and nuts. One of their house flavors is bright pink with chunks of strawberries, mangoes and pineapple and tastes like a strawberry milkshake. Oh, also, it's a buck for a fruit bar and two bucks for a very LARGE small horchata. Even the prices are authentically Mexican.

#3 World's Finest Frozen Custard and Family Fun Center
Lots of places claim to be "world's finest" this-or-that; World's Finest Custard might actually be that. Their handmade custard (available in standard flavors like chocolate and vanilla as well as rotating special flavors) is thick, creamy, rich, decadent, smooth, velvety, wonderful. You will NOT find a finer custard in all of metro Detroit - this place seriously makes a roadtrip to Chesterfield worthwhile. For hard-packed ice cream purists, they also carry Michigan's own Ashby's Sterling Ice Cream. The mini-golf course at the "Family Fun Center" is cheesy even by mini-golf standards, but full-grown adults can still enjoy sitting on the swings with some of the best old-fashioned frozen custard in the ... well, world.

#4 Treat Dreams Ferndale
They're still pretty new but have already made a name for themselves as one of the most unique ice cream parlors in metro Detroit. Why unique? Some of the flavors they've had include honey lavender, hot jalapeno, purple yam, and Sunday breakfast (maple syrup ice cream with bacon). They also serve extra-huge scoops, so come hungry and not just snacky. (You're an adult; you can eat ice cream as a meal.) Salted caramel ice cream is their specialty, and they also carry a variety of baked goods including cake pops.

#5 Calder Dairy and Farm Lincoln Park
If you want the best ice cream possible, get it from the source. Milk for Calder Dairy's New England-style hand-packed ice cream comes from their very own dairy cows at their farm in Carleton, Michigan. Stop by the Dairy in Lincoln Park to try one of their 34 homemade flavors (which include a few seasonal, as well as their new soft serve) on one of their homemade waffle cones, or drop by the farm and take a tour while enjoying your dairy treat.

Bubbling under
Ray's Ice Cream (Royal Oak), The Chocolate Bar/Alinosi's (Grosse Pointe), Guernsey Farms (Northville), Zingerman's Creamery (Ann Arbor), Wally's Frozen Custard (Harper Woods), Dairy Twist Cafe (Wolverine Lake), Sweet Earth (Birmingham), Mootown Creamery (Detroit)

Shatila Bakery on Urbanspoon