I was not designed for heat, and perhaps that’s why I eventually found my way to Portland, Oregon. When “summer” decides to arrive in Portland, the days are sunny and a comfortable 75, maybe 80 degrees. Portland doesn’t often get too hot, so I used the weekend’s upper 90s as an excuse to break with OFG (Operation Feel Good) and have a little ice cream. Because the craving struck around 10:30 am, I had to seek a second excuse. That didn’t take me long – I decided upon “it must be 5 o’clock somewhere.”
Wait, does that work for ice cream too?
The heat of the day hadn’t even settled in, but I was already a dripping, wilting mess as I biked up to Salt & Straw for ice cream. I was not the first to arrive for ice cream.
As I sat down in the shade with my hops and apricot ice cream (I’d say the hops balance the cloying quality of the apricots, and I’d also say that it didn’t taste like beer but rather called to mind a nice cold beer on a hot day – so maybe it was a good thing that it must be 5 o’clock somewhere), I was instantly cooled.
Unless this is your first visit here, you know I don’t necessarily wait for a hot day to have ice cream (and pictured above is my second cone – sweet corn buttermilk. Did I mention it was hot?), but hot summer days and ice cream make for perfect memories.
I already hinted at one of my favorite memories of eating gelato every night in the Piazza Navona in Rome with my older sister back in 1983. The first time we stopped in the caffé, we pantomimed and pointed for ice cream. The waiter returned with the “tourist” special, a massive bowl of gelato, layered with different flavors for 11,500 Lire or $8 back in 1983. We returned three more times, but learned to say piccolo. It was easier to let our waiter pick the flavors, which led to one of my favorite games of trying to decipher the flavors.
Long before there was gelato in my life, there was Bridgeman’s Ice Cream. I grew up in a small town about an hour’s drive from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Whenever we’d drive back from the Twin Cities, we seemed to stop at Bridgeman’s. My mom always ordered the same thing – a hot fudge sundae with vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, pecans and a cherry. I always associate “I Love Lucy” with my mom. Not because she loves the show and not because she is a redhead, but because one visit to Bridgeman’s she put whipped cream on her nose. Suddenly she was Lucille Ball. We all got the giggles, retelling our favorite episodes.
Closer to home, though, was the A&W Drive-in just at the edge of my hometown. I think I was five or six years old in my earliest memories of going to A&W. Sometimes we ate dinner there, but the real treat was when we’d go late in the evening for a cone or a root beer float. We’d pile into the station wagon, sometimes after we were ready for bed and in our pajamas. It was like the rules had been suspended. Ice cream is already a treat, but to get to stay out late with a root beer float in the back of a station wagon gets to sit beside a night in Rome. Now that’s some ice cream.
Summer plus ice cream, now it’s your turn. What’s your favorite ice cream memory?