Erin McKenna’s Bakery, Orlando

This week, I’m mostly straying from the pattern by covering Erin McKenna’s Bakery in Orlando, Florida! This is absolutely the place to go for people with food allergies and sensitivities and if Mark Bittman says they have the best donuts in the world, who am I to argue?

Erin McKenna’s can also be found in N.Y.C. and L.A., and it prides itself on being gluten-free, nut-free (besides coconut), dairy-free, soy-free and egg-free. It’s all vegan and it’s all delicious!

Eliza’s Bakery, Orlando, FL | In Search of a Scoop

Honestly, the soft serve is my least favorite of their offerings. When I bought this, it cost $7 for a large, though it did come with toppings – I got caramel and brownie. The toppings make it really fun, but as someone who can tolerate dairy, coconut milk soft serve just tastes like a decent soft serve yogurt.

Eliza’s Bakery, Orlando, FL | In Search of a ScoopEliza’s Bakery, Orlando, FL | In Search of a Scoop

The bakery, which is located at Disney Springs, the shopping destination at Disney World, is tiny, with only two small tables outside and none inside. But there’s beautiful outdoor seating on the water just a few feet away, and trust me – it’s all about the food here.

Be warned that these doughnuts don’t keep well; your best bet is to eat them quickly or refrigerate them.

They also offer cookies, cupcakes and cupcake tops, teabreads and much more.

Eliza’s Bakery, Orlando, FL | In Search of a Scoop

Oh. And they also have bagels! My only wish is that they’d carry smoked salmon or smoked salmon cream cheese. The bagels and the fake cream cheese are delightful!

So if I didn’t make it clear, the next time you’re at Disney World, you should visit Eliza’s. And if you have food allergies, this is your new favorite place. You’re welcome!

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

Homemade Ice Cream in Orlando!

You might have been able to detect a bit of excitement from the title of this blog. If you did, you’re incorrect. There was actually a ton of excitement behind that blog title.

You may be thinking, why is Orlando so special? You’ve had homemade ice cream all over the country!

Well, you’d be forgiven for thinking that. The unfortunate reality is that the Orlando area suffers from a severe lack of homemade ice cream options.

You’ve got your soft-serve yogurt places. You’ve got soft-serve ice cream places. And you’ve occasionally got places that serve the hard stuff too – mostly Baskin Robbins and the like, but occasionally it’s a local shop carrying some ice cream they purchased from a distributor. And if you’re seeking gelato, you’ll find occasional options too, although I’m most excited to hear that Gelato Fiasco is opening an Orlando location soon.

But if you want homemade ice cream, made by the shop you’re purchasing it in, I wish you luck. Seriously. I’ve been in Davenport for more than three and a half months now, and finding anything less than a forty-five minute drive just wasn’t happening.

But yesterday was my day. We were in Orlando playing a concert, so we decided to adventure in the area while we were there. In searching for a botanical garden, I stumbled onto Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream. Ross and I decided we were obligated to stop. And wow – I’m sure glad that we did!

The outside is rather unassuming, with a light pink font amidst a very humble strip mall. But when you enter, you’ll be charmed by its light pink walls and sunny demeanor.

Affordable prices at Kelly'sPrices are extremely reasonable for a city, at $3.50 for a decent-sized small, $4.50 for well-portioned regular and $5.50 for a large. And if you are struggling to decide, you can get a couple of flavors in a regular (as well as a small, I believe) or three flavors in a large…or you can get an ice cream flight!

Ice cream flights are one of my favorite things. You typically pay a little more for the pleasure of a wide selection of flavors. In this case, I actually think it’s a very good deal. For $8.50 (plus tax), you’ll get four mini-waffle bowls, each with a scoop and change of a different flavor. For $10.50, they’ll be sundaes, with a topping and whipped cream and a cherry on each of them. They’ve got shakes and and shaved ice and other awesomeness too, and they have a lot of “signature” flavors, classics plus a rotating selection of seasonal scoops to try.

As usual, we tried lots of flavors, and unsurprisingly, I got an ice cream flight. It seemed like a fair price even without the waffle bowls (which I can’t eat due to gluten) but my husband Ross enjoyed snacking on them, so all wasn’t lost. Ross got a regular with two flavors.

Four cupcake holder filled with ice cream scoopsHere’s our report!

Lavendar Vanilla – This is the strongest lavender I’ve had! It’s really prominent and bright, but you taste the vanilla too; it’s a great complement. It does melt rather quickly, but not horribly. I think this flavor is best in smaller doses because it’s intense, and it almost gains in tensity as you eat more of it! It’s not quite as creamy as I’d prefer, but it’s still got plenty of creaminess.

Valen-thyme Honey – A great seasonal option. First you taste the sweet, natural honey; then you taste the thyme; and the vanilla base is subtle but nice. I love the sweetness with a bit of bite combination. It’s excellent, refreshing flavor with a bit of pop. Like the lavendar vanilla, I could use a touch more creaminess if I had my choice, but it’s still plenty.

Key Lime – Wow. This is creamy and bright and the perfect taste of key lime juice. It’s almost like cheesecake filling, without any crust/graham cracker/mixins. This is probably the creamiest flavor here. I could eat this every day. Refreshing and creamy…this is the best key lime I’ve ever had.

Maple Bourbon Bacon – It’s a maple base, with a hint of bourbon lending it a bit of wood or nuttiness, and the bacon is perfectly crispy. The bacon is also perfectly distributed so that we both found we had a little bit in every bite, although maple is the showcase here. The maple is outstanding, prominent with a deepness to it and that wonderful maple sweetness.

Cake Batter ‘n Sprinkles – Although this isn’t earth-shattering, it’s a really great cake batter base. High quality for sure, can’t really ask for more, and the sprinkles are a fun texture throughout. It’s a creamy base, but it has a firmness to it too, almost like a brownie or something else harder than ice cream…fudgy perhaps. I’m a huge fan of Blake’s cake batter ice cream (it has cake and frosting in it!) but I have to assume that this base would kick that base’s butt. Very well done.

Mexican Chocolate – This is a more subtle heat than I expected. Cinnamon is prominent here. It’s very nice, but definitely not my favorite for this type of thing.

The staff here was friendly and patient and accommodated my request to have a bowl-less ice cream flight very well. Although we preferred the creaminess of the Maple Bourbon Bacon and the Key Lime, all of them were delicious. I’m so glad we found Kelly’s and I look forward to returning whenever we’re in the area. Definitely a gem!

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

The Cutest Place For a Mediocre Sundae

The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is adorable. It fits into Main Street perfectly, reminiscent of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor from the early 20th Century.

But this adorable ice cream parlor doesn’t make ice cream – instead, they serve Edy’s. So I have never worried about covering it for this blog.

But this past Thanksgiving, my husband and I visited the Magic Kingdom. That’s right – I had my turkey dinner (an oversized turkey leg) with homemade, gluten-free stuffing and cranberry sauce. For dessert, I wasn’t thrilled with any of the options (Dole Whip is good, but I wasn’t in a pineapple mood) so I decided I’d try a special sundae at the Plaza.

There are fairly limited options at the Plaza, overall. Limited flavors, and limited toppings, as well as limited sundae types. They don’t even carry sprinkles (perhaps to avoid the mess?) but they were willing to give out extra cherries to customers who thought to ask. Prices here are on the high side compared to a typical ice cream place, but of course that’s to be expected at Disney World.

I settled on the All-American sundae. It had vanilla and chocolate ice creams, hot fudge, whipped cream, a cherry and what’s referred to as “peanut butter drizzle”. It’s a beautiful-looking sundae. People were stopping me in the parlor to ask what it was. Unfortunately, it’s really not designed well. It was a great portion for a sundae too.

Alarm bells began when I realized they pre-scoop the ice cream cups. That’s not necessarily a problem…but why do it? They had too many employees working behind the counter (most were standing around), so couldn’t one or two of them have scooped ice cream? But honestly, it’s a theme park. If that was my only issue, I wouldn’t bother writing this review.

The reason I noticed the pre-made cup (chocolate scoop on top of vanilla scoop) was because the server was bored, flipping it over and over again while he waited for the whipped cream machine to be free. And no, I’m not kidding. I’m sure I made quite a face without intending to. Does Disney hire high school kids?

Next issue – these are peanut butter chips. Fine. Tasty even. But that’s not a drizzle. I was picturing some warm peanut butter mixed in with the hot fudge. Different story altogether – still tasty, but it was false advertising.

Next realization? The hot fudge is never going to reach this ice cream! Basically, each layer is solid, and the shape of the container makes it really difficult to get from one to another. So I ate about 3 inches of whipped cream (I almost felt like I’d be sick by the end) plus a few chips and then moved on to fudge and chocolate, trying desperately to leave a bit of fudge to go with the vanilla. I don’t know for sure the source, but this is very standard whipped cream, like what you’d get out of a can. Nothing like homemade.

A great sundae should have multiple layers of hot fudge. That way you’ve got some all the way down to the bottom. This is the complete opposite of that – the dish shape means the fudge and whipped cream are almost too distinct and impossible to enjoy with anything but the adjoining layers.

Getting two flavors in one bite is really tough here. When you manage it, it’s nice. Chocolate and peanut butter are a classic and an excellent pairing, and when I can get the fudge and chocolate ice cream together, that’s delicious too. Edy’s chocolate ice cream is really pleasant, I enjoyed it.

Ross described my efforts to pair flavors and eat this as a “geological survey in ice cream form”. Unfortunately there’s not much of anything else left by the time I get to the vanilla, despite my best efforts. And wow. This vanilla is…not that great. Ross wonders if I was overstimulated by the fudge and stuff, and that is always a possibility. But it tasted absurdly sweet to me, and without any real vanilla taste to it. It was like someone was given a description of what vanilla was supposed to taste like and they went with that. Also? It was icy. Charming.

If nothing else, this reminded me why I never order a sundae with Edy’s at a restaurant. I’ve never liked their vanilla base. It was so odd to order a sundae based on how awesome the flavors will go together and then to have to eat them almost entirely separately!

So, my recommendation? Skip the Plaza. If you need to visit that much, skip the All-American. If I had to eat here, the chocolate is a great choice, with fudge, and maybe I’d try mint chocolate chip or a caramel topping. But skip the vanilla and the sundaes.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season if you’re celebrating. Happy Eating!

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