Some things, like playing with My Little Ponies, get kind of boring when you grow up. Other things, like eating ice cream, never get old even if you do. Here, a compilation of some of the best summer refreshments.
I don’t know who came up with the idea of packaging orange sherbet in a toilet paper tube or why it caught on. I’m just glad that one of my favorite treats from when I was three is still around. This one time, when I was going to the beach with my mom, we stopped to get ice cream and I was eating my push-up pop in the car, and it got all melty, and I spilled it all over my shirt.
There are three hip gelato joints in Portland now: Alto Gelato (931 N.W. 23rd Ave.) Stacatto Gelato (232 N.E. 28th Ave.) and Mio Gelato (25 N.W. 11th Ave.) Gelato is like ice cream with real flavors and a light, creamy texture. The down side is gelato places are frequented by the same kind of people you find in wine bars and often have equally ridiculous names the uncultured rich people inside find so amusing. The upside is gelato comes in really cute little plastic bowls and the spoons are little shovels.
Although ice cream sandwiches comprise a wide and varied sector of the frosty treat universe, I’ve never really been able to get past the standard rectangular variety and its best imitator (see below). The architectural simplicity and iconic image of the neopolitan ice cream sandwich is as classic, recognizable and visually appealing as the Nelson Marshmallow Sofa, except less expensive and you can eat it. I love the flavor contrast between the chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice cream, and I love the weird, sticky cookies that get all over your fingers.
These miniature, dairy-free replicas of the old-fashioned ice cream sandwich are becoming a modern classic. Their obvious disadvantage of only one flavor of ice cream per sandwich is overshadowed by their many assets: They come in exciting flavors like peanut butter, they jibe with people’s dietary needs, they are really cute, observant Jews can enjoy them after eating brisket, and they hold a sought-after place on the short list of things made out of tofu that are totally snacky.
In the mood for something more gelatinous? Bubble tea is nothing like an ice cream sandwich except for being cool, creamy and absolutely perfect on a hot afternoon. So I guess it’s a lot like an ice cream sandwich. The mango milk tea at Chit-Chat Caf� (1907 S.W. Sixth Ave., next door to East Hall) tastes like something you would drink at a tiki bar, and just like at a tiki bar you can get assorted fancy accessories floating in it – the umbrellas and cherries are replaced by your choice of tapioca pearls, custard and/or fruit jelly. Oh, and by the way, all of Chit-Chat’s milk teas are non-dairy.
Good Humor strawberry shortcake bar
Speaking of weird textures, I am perpetually fascinated by the strawberry shortcake. One of the prettiest frosty treats, its outside is encrusted with little pink and white cakey bits that hover in a disarming limbo between crunchy and soft, and the inside is comprised of layers of squishy white vanilla and pink strawberry ice cream. It always seems to be gone too fast.
Honorable mentions: Things I wanted to review but couldn’t find
When I didn’t find this one at the Plaid Pantry I checked it out online, and apparently it’s sort of a cult regional specialty unfairly confined to California. Various unreliable childhood memories tell me the It’s-It is a big, round ice cream sandwich that involves oatmeal cookies, mint ice cream and chocolate chips, and as a rule it ends up all over your face and hands.
The drumstick is like the Good Humor King Cone, but far superior because the top is entirely coated with chocolate and nuts, it has a caramel center, and it looks like a microphone.
Spongebob Squarepants ice cream bar
My editor told me to review this, but the one time I was actually looking for an ice cream truck I couldn’t track any down. However, my cousin Ari has tried it and tells me it has gumball eyes and is kind of cheap-tasting.