Alcoholic Delights in Austin

What’s a group of adults craving a night out to do when their sweet tooth is calling? The average ice cream place, even if it’s an upscale parlor, caters to children and families, so even after 10 pm, it may not be a relaxing setting for your girls’ night or after-hours get together.Well, if you happen to be in Austin, you’ve got plenty of options. And one of them is Prohibition Creamery.Although Austin has many delicious ice cream places to choose from, we visited there in an RV, so getting around was a challenge. Lucky for us, we walked right by Prohibition Creamery after a long day of walking. There was no resisting their unique bar/homemade ice cream combination! 

I went with two flavors. They don’t carry a wide variety, but it’s a nice mixture of alcoholic and non-alcoholic ice cream. (And we saw a family drop in during the afternoon, so apparently that’s cool too, at least during the day.) Our thoughts are below. 

Dark Chocolate – This is actually a vegan sorbet. It was a little grainy, but honestly it was quite smooth for a sorbet, almost creamy. Ross said it began with a note of dark chocolate, then a bitterness, and finally a fruitiness. Unfortunately there was a bit of ice burn in one side of my scoop. The other side was just about perfect!

Mezcal Vanilla – This is one of their boozy flavors. It’s fun! The alcohol is subtle and very complimentary. 

Triple Bourbon Milkshake – This was Ross’ selection. It includes bourbon, bourbon ice cream and bourbon whipped cream! He loved it and now has really high expectations for when we go back someday. 

Alcohol in ice cream is often subtle and perhaps much worse, just not done well. Alcohol messes with the chemistry of the ice cream, making it harder to execute well. Here overall it’s prominent and done well since it’s basically what they do! 

This place isn’t cheap. You’ll spend much more here then you’d expect in your average ice cream parlor. And of course alcohol always will increase your costs. But we highly recommend giving them a shot. As Ross said, “If we lived here, this could be where we had all our business meetings.” I love that there’s a place to accommodate my crazy sweet tooth and Ross’ desire for a drink. 

Have you been to Austin? Where do you recommend for an ice cream treat? 

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Tastings in Tucson 

My husband and I were lucky enough to spend a few weeks in Tucson, Arizona this past winter (mid-December to early January), so I made a point of seeking out homemade ice cream options in the area.
Tucson has many ice cream places to choose from, and we really loved their downtown, so it was a no-brainer to get a dish or two. 

Our first planned stop was Isabella’s. Next to a fun used bookstore, Isabella’s was having their electricity redone the day we visited, so much of their ice cream wasn’t in great shape. While we can’t be sure the ice cream was their best effort, we enjoyed their service and the cute, very small ice cream parlor on our visit. 

Here are the flavors we sampled:

Honey – Although it wasn’t my favorite honey of all time, this is a lovely showcase, creamy and a delicious flavor. 

Salted Caramel Pecan – A nice, milky flavor, with a tanginess like buttermilk – but the flavor lacked something and took a while to hit. Pretty average. 

Candy Cane – Everything you want in candy cane ice cream – except I’d have liked more pieces mixed in. Pretty great. 

Lavender Vanilla – Not as strong as Jordan’s but I’m a sucker for lavender and definitely found this flavor delightful. 

Full disclosure: we paid $3.25 plus tax on two 4 ounce portions thanks to a coupon from the bookstore next door, The Bookstop! 

Overall thoughts: The mouthfeel on these was a bit hard, almost icy, despite the creaminess overall. The flavors were generally great though. It felt average overall, not living up to its goals, but we owe them another try on a day without a power loss! 

I considered visiting the Hub, which looked great and very hipster. But time was of the essence and I chose the Screamery as my other option.

The Screamery made my list not only due to good reviews, but because they carried vegan ice cream flavors. (Thankfully those were coconut-milk based, so I could have them without cheating on elimination diet with more dairy.)

The atmosphere at the Screamery was very family-friendly and the employee who assisted us was very friendly and laid back as he told us about the grass-fed cream, pasteurized on site, used in their ice cream. 

What we thought: 

Coconut Fudge – Ross found this one very good. It’s a nice, very dark chocolate ice cream with a good mouth feel. It isn’t the creamiest, BUT it’s a coconut milk base and gluten-free, so it’s a great option that’s quite tasty. (Pumphouse Creamery in Minneapolis is still the winner, heads and tails over others, on coconut ice cream.) 

Bourbon Brittle – This was a bit smoother and creamier than the coconut milk base; its traditional dairy ice cream. There was a bit of iciness on top. $9.73 for the two of us for their middle size – plenty but somewhat over-prices compared to what we’ve seen in other places. This flavor is very rich and sweet, starting like sugar on snow but with a darker, richer aftertaste from the bourbon. Unfortunately the brittle seemed cheap – reminiscent of baking chocolate, it was kind of chalky. 

Overall: More average than we expected given the price and fancy grass-fed dairy. I was disappointed to see ice and cheap brittle used. Like Isabella’s, it strove for a lot but didn’t quite hit the mark. Some day we want to try the ice cream nachos, which look plentiful and fun. 

I am wondering if Tucson will have an ice cream renaissance in a year or two.  Clearly there are tons of successful businesses so there’s a real passion for local ice cream. Perhaps with a bit more time the quality will improve as they figure things out. They’re all pushing natural, local, etc, but now the taste needs to get on par with cities with better ice cream scenes. As Ross said, “It seems like the tag line was more important than the ice cream.” 

Have you gotten any ice cream in Tucson? I’d love to hear about your favorite place! 

p.s. Thanks for supporting the blog by doing your usual online shopping via my Amazon affiliate link!

Finding Delicious Gelato in AZ

It would have been so easy to title this entry inappropriately. But that wouldn’t be right for this delightfully family-friendly, 70’s retro gelato shop in amazingly quirky and wonderful Bisbee, AZ. 

We visited Pussycat Gelato in the second month they were open, so be sure to call before assuming any of this is still accurate. But whatever the deal is there, you’ll want to go! 

Covered in female-centric pop culture and playing retro cartoons, Pussycat Gelato is a delightful place for coffee, Happy Hour and of course gelato or sorbet. We visited during the monthly Friday arts night when local downtown businesses stay open late for shoppers. Their presentation was wonderful. Even when customers came in behind us, they insisted we try as many flavors as we liked and happily made recommendations. They also had an “experimental” flavor we could try and give feedback on. 

Best of all? As we finished our gelato, they came back with samples of new flavors and asked for our feedback. They repeated this multiple times once it was clear we gave good feedback. It was so much fun and it made it clear to us that they will go far as a business because they solicit feedback and keep working to improve. 

The business fits perfectly in quirky, hip Bisbee, AZ. They told us they were hoping to open another location in Phoenix in the future based on the feedback they were getting, and according to their website, they’ve opened a Scottsdale, AZ location since our visit. 

The wife of the ice cream maker mentioned the fun combination of an older retro style parlor with the new quality gelato. It really is a great combination. 

Prices weren’t cheap, but given the amazing service we would happily pay more. And consider getting a cannoli with ice cream – such a unique option. 

This was not your average visit. Although I prefer the creaminess of ice cream over gelato, I enjoyed the experience and the tastes I got here. Be sure to check them out if you’re in town.

The flavors:

Strawberry Cheesecake – We both got this. It’s a very prominent cheese flavor with tasty, if not fresh, strawberries. The strawberries plus cheese makes this reminiscent of the traditional dessert, minus the crust.

Chocolate-Covered Cherries – A vanilla-based ice cream that’s full of flavor and really lovely. The high-quality chocolate melts in your mouth, and the cherry and chocolate aren’t sweet which is great. 

Star Anise – Ross calls this one perfect for after curry. We love the kick afterwards and the delicate flavor here. 

Mexican Coffee – Very bitter, as you’d expect with coffee. Ross’ type of flavor. It adds a bitterness to the chocolate base, and thechocolate-covered expresso beans are a plus.  

Irish Cream – Very creamy but very light. Bailey’s can be intense, but this is balanced really well, not overpowering. It’s finished with a smoky whiskey flavor that pairs well with Mexican coffee. It’s really the perfect strength and balance. 

A cookie came with our dishes – it’s very good, thin, fluffy and breaks easily, like a plain cone but more wafer-like. Imagine a nutter butter. It’s sweet and fun to eat and a nice alternative to a cone. 

Taste Test Results:

His old version of pistachio was very good, sweeter and more like pistachio ice cream than I expected. 

The new version was excellent – much more like the nut, with an earthiness to it. 

The old caramel was very salty and interesting. The new one has fantastic chunks and is much more well-rounded and balanced. 

We tried plenty of other flavors too, so don’t be afraid to ask. Thanks to Pussycat Gelato for a fantastic evening!

p.s. Thanks for supporting the blog by doing your usual online shopping via my Amazon affiliate link!

Delicious Ice Cream in Denton

While wandering through the adorable and awesome college town of Denton, Texas, about an hour north of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Ross and I stumbled on Beth Marie’s, a charming homemade ice cream parlor. We each scooped up three flavors for a total of $9.40 before tip, and although it wasn’t life-changing, it was very tasty. 

Ross’ flavors are a bit hard to report as I accidentally deleted them! I know he got Krissy’s French Toast and reported that it was a very satisfying flavor I would love. There was also Butter Brickle that he enjoyed. And according to my limited notes., the third flavor had a creamy, milky base that was very good but didn’t break the mold. 

Luckily, my flavors weren’t accidentally deleted! 

Salty Dog – This was a dulce de leche base with salted caramel. The caramel was delightful! This is a super solid flavor with good consistency, especially considering it’s premium, not super-premium, ice cream. It wasn’t too sweet either. 

Dark Side Mint – This is a very dark chocolate base, with a touch of mint, with York peppermint patties. The base is rich and deep. Overall the texture is a little rough, but I liked it. 

Bee’s Knees – This is a lavender base with honey. I found it gentle and buttery and lovely. But I love lavender, so your mileage may vary. Ross said “It tastes the way expensive soap smells”!

We found Beth Marie’s affordable, beautiful and charming. It’s a perfect fit for the circle in downtown Denton. I wouldn’t call it a destination necessarily, but it’s an excellent stop while you’re in town to visit the amazing bookstore, comics shop and everything else Denton has to offer.

p.s. Thanks for supporting the blog by doing your usual online shopping via my Amazon affiliate link!

Stumbling Upon Gelato in Fort Worth, TX

People often ask me how I choose which ice cream (or gelato, or frozen yogurt) places to visit. Although I aspire to visit EVERY homemade ice cream place out there, my time and budget certainly don’t allow that. So I tend to do some research, read reviews and narrow my search down based on where will be convenient for me, their menu offerings and what I’m betting will be best based on reviews. 

But that isn’t the whole story. Sometimes I will be exploring a town or a city and I will literally pass an ice cream place that I hadn’t realized I’d be seeing. At that point, I do a little research, consider how hungry I am and how much money I’ve got for a treat. I’m certainly more likely to visit if it’s right in front of me. 

So although gelato isn’t my favorite treat, when I saw Paciugo calling to me as we explored the Christmas lights in Fort Worth last year, I decided to give it a look. (I was also craving ice cream but there wasn’t a homemade place nearby.) It turns out they’re a chain with locations in about ten states, and their gelato is made on site. They also have a nice coffee menu, and if coffee plus gelato sounds like a fun combination to you, you’ll enjoy it even more. I decided to check out a couple of flavors. My husband Ross stuck to a hot black coffee, which he was pleased with. The prices were on the higher side for smaller portions but we were in a fancy part of Fort Worth so it felt kind of normal. Here’s what I went with. Wild Berries: The true fruity taste of this is lovely. It’s actually dairy-free too. Delightful and not overly sweet with an awesome fruit tang. A nice mouth feel too.

Milk Chocolate: This gelato has a very nice feel, with a rich milk chocolate flavor. It reminded me of an excellent drinking chocolate. 

Ross enjoyed both flavors a lot too, and I also recommend the combination. Although this is so far the only location I’ve visited, I would definitely recommend Paciugo when you’re craving a tasty dessert. Do you have a favorite place to get gelato?

p.s. Thanks for supporting the blog by doing your usual online shopping via my Amazon affiliate link!

The Best Chocolate Ice Cream – Ever!

Some of you may know that I’m currently on an elimination diet (the Auto-Immune Protocol) to heal my health challenges through diet and lifestyle changes. One of the things I had to cut out of my diet completely is dairy. (The horror, right?!) Unfortunately I’ve realized that I cannot have dairy daily without feeling some of its effects. BUT thankfully, having a treat on occasion is still working well for me, so don’t worry, faithful readers – there is more ice cream in my future. 

After spending months religiously avoiding dairy, I began traveling the country with my husband in an RV. When we found ourselves in Minneapolis for a couple of days, I knew the time had come to have some real ice cream. After all, the city is known for some great restaurants, and it’s the Midwest – I had a feeling they knew how to do ice cream here.

Of course I love to compare different ice cream places, but since I needed to watch my sugar intake and since I wasn’t sure how dairy would affect my body, I limited myself to one: Pumphouse Creamery.  

I chose it because of this – coconut milk ice cream. I can tolerate coconut milk, and amazingly they make it without any of the preservatives (like guar gum) that is standard in commercial ice cream. Basically, that meant they had some options that would be guilt-free for me – 100% on my diet! I decided that as long as I avoided gluten (my number one intolerance so far), I could indulge in their five scoop sampler.

The sampler is extremely reasonably priced. The scoops are small, but for $4.50 you to experience an indulgent variety of flavors. My husband Ross went with a double scoop, which is a little pricey at $5.10, and it seemed fair in comparison since he had more ice cream than I did. They will let you get two flavors at any size which is awesome!Here’s what we thought:

Pumphouse Creamery offers a trio of cinnamon ice creams! A very unique idea and since they were all gluten-free, I tried them all. It was fun to compare them.

Sri Lankan Cinnamon – It has a touch of almost heat. Subtle and it’s creamy too. Delicious. 

Vietnamese Cinnamon- A very fun kick to it! I really liked it. Ross thought it tasted like fall. 

Indonesian Cinnamon – Very mild, subtle and creamy like the first. Strong initially, and a pleasant light taste lingering after; it was reminiscent of Cinnamon Toast Crunch to Ross. 

Mint and Cookies – coconut milk, gluten-free – This is such a light mint! It’s strong and yet light, a real melt in your mouth ice cream. It’s like the inside of a York peppermint patty that fills your mouth – and yet it’s light and airy. So nice – particularly as I’d been craving something like cookies and cream and finding that as a gluten-free option is really tough. 

Chocolate – coconut milk – This chocolate is heavenly. Hence the title of this post. This is legitimately my favorite chocolate ice cream ever. It’s like brownie batter! It’s rich, and has a touch of a fudge feel and yet it still melts in your mouth. Amazing. I never would have guessed it was coconut milk and I certainly never would have anticipated that a coconut milk chocolate ice cream would be better than all of the other chocolate ice creams I have had. Isn’t life full of surprises? After all, if I wasn’t cutting out dairy, I would probably have never discovered this flavor!

Buttermilk Lemon Bar – Ross had to evaluate this one. I confess I took a couple of bites of buttermilk but sadly had to avoid the lemon bar chunks due to gluten. Ross found the base delightful and the perfect amount of sweetness – it’s just a bit sweet. Ross said that the lemon bars accentuate the sourness of the buttermilk. Pretty fun! 

Buckwheat Honey – Ross says it’s excellent. “Almost crumbly like a muffin”. It’s thick and reminiscent of cake batter – not too sweet and with buttery chunks. Honestly it’s a dramatically unique flavor I’m glad I got to try. The swirls of honey are fabulous and the rest is more savory. (As you’ll see in the photo, they first thought Ross wanted a sampler too…which meant more ice cream for us!)

We were so enamored with the chocolate ice cream that we had to find out if we could get some to take with us. They had pints and quarts. $11 for the quart seemed fair, but I think we would have paid anything. It was just that good. We couldn’t have made a better choice for my first ice cream after a long time away. If you’re ever in Minneapolis, this place is an absolute must. The owner and staff are super-nice too. It’s a small location with only a couple of places to sit, so be prepared to stand or walk outside if it’s nice (or come at a weird time of day like we did). But whatever you do, check it out – and bring a cooler! p.s. Thanks for doing your usual Amazon shopping via my affiliate link

Van Leeuwens Wows in NYC

Our final New York City ice cream stop was a rather last-minute addition to our plans as we had to fit it in before catching Stew’s The Total Bent at the Public Theatre. But before experiencing this amazing show, I thought it was important to get one more amazing ice cream place in. And wow, am I glad I did! Van Leeuwen has a very unassuming exterior. It’s very small, and the bookstore across the street, for instance, is much more prominent. The prices aren’t cheap either, as you can probably make out from the sign. But they have classic stylings, fun specials and carry an outstanding variety of vegan ice creams, generally made from cashew milk. The special while we were there was Red Currant Wedding Cake. With a vegan flavor like that, who would choose the cow’s milk, right? 

Well, we tried a few flavors, for research purposes, and on a quiet Saturday morning we made our selections. We paid  $5.50/small (2 flavors), $7.50/large (3 flavors) and tipped $2 for their patience and awesomeness. 

Earl Grey Tea: Trust me – this is your new coffee ice cream. It’s an outstanding consistency, and an absolutely delightful tea flavor. It’s super-smooth, creamy and flavorful. 

Rhubarb Pavlova: Here’s all the rhubarb flavor you could desire. Amazing fruit and outstanding all around. Perfection in a scoop? 

Red Currant Wedding Cake: I was so tempted to get an entire scoop of this! Probably should have as the chocolate wasn’t my absolute favorite, but so it goes. This ice cream has a coconut-based wedding cake that gives you your fill of ice cream and cake all in one delicious vegan bite! 

Hazelnut Chocolate Rice Krispie Treat: This trio of flavors combines a light chocolate base, a hazelnut swirl ala Nutella and Rice Krispies, which get soft but stay delicious to give you a nice combo of flavors and textures. 

Honeycomb: Wow. This flavor is outrageously good. It’s sweet and creamy, with honey and honeycomb throughout. So, so good! 

Chocolate: My only slight disappointment from this outstanding business. It’s rich but also a tad harder than I like. But it’s still ridiculously smooth and not fudgy. This ice cream features super-high quality chocolate that reminds me of the best Ghirardelli’s. It also combines with other flavors phenomenally well. 

My husband and I fell in love with this ice cream. Be sure to pick up a copy of their recipe book/origin story across the street, especially if you tolerate cashews and want some vegan ice cream options. We couldn’t recommend a visit here more highly! P.s. Thanks for doing your usual Amazon shopping via my affiliate link