Brain Freeze

I wonder if I can blame my upbringing for the seasonal inappropriateness I seem to suffer from. In Papua New Guinea we had two seasons: rainy and dry. We didn’t have the sweltering humidity or blistering cold (with a few days of 72° and skies of blue sandwiched between) that Chicago does. We didn’t have to be creative with how to bundle ourselves up, or figure out how we could possibly strip down one more layer without being indecently exposed. Each day, we dressed ourselves in jeans and t-shirts and flip flops and smiles.

Nowadays, though, I am the mom who gets scolded at school for wearing my flip flops while dropping my kid off on a snowy day. I am the employee who shows up to work in the middle of summer excited to be wearing the sweater I just found at the bottom of my drawer that I had forgotten I even had. I am the friend who offers to stop and pick up a hot chocolate for everyone on her way to the beach. And I am the girl who can’t get ice cream off her brain in the middle of record breaking arctic temperatures.

Since none of my favorite places to indulge in the frozen delicacy are currently open, I thought I’d share a few of them on here to distract myself from thinking about them.

(Spoiler: I save the best for last–the ice cream cone that will make you regret every ice cream cone you’ve ever had up to this point.)

Brock’s and my favorite find close to home, Capannari Ice Cream, is a family run joint that has offered it’s finest homemade creams to Chicago’s northwest suburbs for thirteen years now. They have more awards and distinctions plastered on the walls than they have flavors in the cases. You’ll likely offer them an additional plaque to add to their hall of fame once you’ve tasted the ice cream behind all the awards.

Another favorite in the burbs, mostly for its nostalgia, is Choo Choo. I’m confident that even when B outgrows the wonderent of food being delivered to our table on a train, their hand scooped milkshakes and malts will continue to bring us in.

There are a couple scoops in the city I haven’t been able to resist lately.

I was feeling especially fancy at Mindy’s Hot Chocolate (which I’ve mentioned a couple of times) when I ordered the salted caramel ice cream. When it arrived, I knew it deserved to be eaten like a lady, one nibble at a time. I am not exactly the poster child for a prototypical lady, so I suppose it comes as no surprise that I dove in headfirst and didn’t come up for air until the last of the salted caramel  cream had been licked off my plate.

The chocolate peanut butter milkshake from the Chicago Diner was almost enough to convert me to veganism. Almost. (If you haven’t been to the Chicago Diner, you’re missing out on creations that leave out every ingredient your body hates, without leaving out the things your taste buds love. It’s kind of amazing, actually.)

Naturally, I allow myself a sweet treat or two while I’m on the road too. This year, these were my top three favorite out-of-state cones:

1. Michigan State University Dairy Store–This place actually makes their ice cream on campus from dairy cows that they raise on campus. Being obsessed with farm-to-table restaurants lately, I was super excited for my first cow-to-cone experience. (And yes, in case you get lost in the experience and forget when the Spartans are playing next, the schedule is conveniently located on the ice cream case.)

Dairy Store (East Lansing, MI)

MSU Dairy Store (East Lansing, MI)

2. Molly Moon’s–The concoctions that this Seattle establishment comes up with are brilliant. Almost as brilliant as their community outreach efforts. After a good ten minutes of staring at the menu board trying to decide, I let the cashier surprise me. I ended up with a honey lavender ice cream. I tried to reduplicate the concept with yogurt after I got home. It was a disaster. I don’t recommend trying to reduplicate anything Molly Moon does in the kitchen. Only in the community.

Molly Moon's (Seattle, WA)

Molly Moon’s (Seattle, WA)

3. Until finding Scoops in Kenosha, Wisconsin, I didn’t know anything like this existed. In case you, too, have been left in the dark, I would like to introduce you to:


**Ridiculous amounts of emphasis added for effect

Beer and pretzels and ice cream and magic all thrown together in one little package?? I remember nothing that happened after that first lick (best case of brain freeze I’ve ever suffered from).

Time to throw my flip flops on and go pick B up from school before I start thinking about ice cream again.


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