This has been the most brutal winter spell of all time, I think. For the first time, I've finally been forced to drop hundreds of dollars on proper "extreme arctic weather" long johns and fleece pullovers. It's all about Patagonia in my world, because after loading up on a handful of their most high-tech goodies, I can happily say that I am properly insulated.
Now that I'm all toasty, I can once again stomach the idea of a walk along the lake. I can let my truck actually warm up instead of just starting it and taking off with a bleed-out of fumes because I can't handle the chill for two minutes. And, most excitedly, I can joyfully accept the idea of ice cream melting in my mouth again. We all know that ice cream = summer, which leaves me convinced that there's no better time than the dark, dreary depths of winter to experience the glorious notion that it will all end soon. I say, let there be ice cream all year round!
Never mind the thousands of calories and hundreds of grams of fat in this summertime bliss. I once read that banana splits have seven grams of fiber in them, so I made that my ice cream treat du jour. Lisa, my always-willing-to-spring-for-a-sweet eating pal, decided to come along with me for the ride, and by the end of a harrowing day navigating the streets of Chicago, we found ourselves at Margie's Candies, the famous ice cream shop on Montrose.
It's a tiny retro ice cream parlor that has been around for decades and usually gets a bum rap due to less than appealing service (I hear this bad service is mostly at the Western location). At the Montrose pit stop, though, we got nothing but big smiles and chatter bug conversation from the fast-on-their-feet wait staff.
I knew immediately what I wanted (the banana split with hot chocolate sauce) while Lisa went a little off the grid and ordered up a brownie ice cream sundae with warm caramel sauce. Moments later, we were served up the dream dessert duo—two ridiculously huge portions.
My classic chocolate, strawberry and vanilla ice creams were covered in whipped cream and just begging to be topped with the gravy boat of hot choco sauce. I dumped the whole sweet loot on my pile of ice, grabbed my little cookie that had been tucked alongside and went balls-out nuts with my dish. I was soon covered in little bits of sauce and cookie flakes, but oh-so-content.
Lisa is a little steadier than I am with her process and she quietly busied herself creating small brownie towers with clouds of whipped cream on them. Taking each beautiful creation, she'd scoop up a spoonful of vanilla bean and do the old-one-two-shovaroo. Never would I have thought that we could finish such gargantuan desserts, but wouldn't you know it, at the end of about 15 minutes, we'd managed to polish off pounds of sugar (we've literally never been sicker or more disgusted with ourselves). The taste of summer was so thorough and exquisite, though, we couldn't let go of Margie's altogether; we just quickly determined that next time, we'd be sharing.
The Final Rave: I can't say enough about the flakiness of Margie's particular brand of ice cream: perfectly chilled with not a lick of melt in sight. Truly an accomplishment.
Keep It Going:
Read it: The Ultimate Ice Cream Book
More has been written about lesser subjects, that's for sure.
Eat it: Pick Me Up
The brownie ice cream sundae at this Wrigelyville coffee shop is bar none one of the best in the city. The cute little sprinkles on top are the true gem though.
Do it: Bobtail Soda Fountain (Southport)
Seems to be popular with the kiddies. And, don't you think their virgin little tastebuds know good ice cream?
Get crazy with it: Homemade Ice Cream
As a kid, we used to hand churn barrel after barrel of ice cream at family dinners. As much as I hated mixing all the salt, ice and sugar, the end result was nothing short of miraculous.