By Lee Barrie and Cindy Kurman
First published in StreetWise Magazine
As we write this, we’re gearing up to attend the second annual Chicago Luxury Ice Cream Festival at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Center in Lincoln Park, July 30-31. By the time you read this, the festival, the brainchild of our friend Jeff Reid, will have become history, but an even bigger annual foodie event. This leads us to consider our topic of the week: artisan ice cream.
Almost everyone who likes dairy loves ice cream or a suitable variation like frozen yogurt, frozen custard, and gelato. Whether you’re a purest and prefer your ice cream plain or an adventurer who will try any and all types of flavors, mix-ins and toppings, Chicago offers up many great places to try an ice cream creation that refreshingly rises above the typical supermarket ice cream experience.
Here are some fun places to try when it’s hot out and you’re looking for a relatively inexpensive fix of frozen delight.
The Chocolate Shoppe
5337 W. Devon Ave., Chicago 1823 Waukegan Rd, Glenview, IL
773-763-9778 (847) 998-0809
We stumbled upon the Glenview location when it first opened last year, taking over a former Baskin Robbins space. What a difference! They feature more than 40 flavors, with a very helpful, enthusiastic staff. Their Zanzibar Chocolate, a dark chocolate scoop of guilty pleasure, is the best chocolate ice cream we’ve ever had. Our advice: go there and get two flavors, one being the Zanzibar and the other a suitable, but lighter accompaniment. There is nothing better.
Black Dog Gelato
859 N. Damen Ave., Chicago
Using fresh, locally produced ingredients, this gelato and sorbet shop offers traditional flavors such as vanilla bean, milk chocolate and pistachio, or more adventurous choices such as salted peanut, goat-cheese cashew caramel and roasted red pepper.
Gertie's Ice Cream
7600 S. Pulaski Rd., Chicago
If you’re nostalgic for an old-time ‘50’s era ice cream parlor, Gertie’s is the real deal. They make their own ice cream and their signature dish is an old fashioned banana split, with three scoops of ice cream, strawberries, pineapple, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, chopped nuts and a cherry. Sometimes classics withstand the test of time for good reason.
Homer’s Homemade Gourmet Ice Cream
1237 Green Bay Rd., Wilmette, IL
We know you’ve heard of it, but now is as good as any time to actually give it a try. Homer’s is family owned, award-winning, offering 35 flavors of premium frozen joy. Rave reviews for the Fresh Peach ice cream, and many say that the simpler flavors are so good that they are worth ordering over the more complex flavors. Either way, you’ll get your fix of pure pleasure. Don’t forget the shakes and malts, either.
2951 N. Broadway
Chicago, IL 60657
(773) 880-7372; www.bobtailicecream.com
Bobtails is another delightful retro journey back to the days of yesteryear’s soda jerks. The ice cream is made on-site; you can even view the factory while you’re there. Choose from about 20 original flavors, including the “signature sunset”, which is a merlot ice cream with dark chocolate chips. It’s also a great place to try a special ice cream creation such as a sundae.
Artisan Micro-Creameries for your Ice Cream Radar Antennae
We’re the first to admit that it would take page after page to describe all of the wonderful ice creams available in Chicagoland. So here’s a shortcut: peruse the following list of micro-creameries and then keep your eyes open for a restaurant or ice cream shop that carries these brands. You’ll enjoy some of the finest ice cream made in the Chicago area, some with offbeat flavors and unusual ingredients. Then enjoy the brain freeze:
Blue Marble Dairy of Chicago
Sibby’s Ice Cream
Trader’s Point Creamery
Ruth & Phil’s Gourmet Ice Cream
Mayfell Farms (sheep’s milk ice cream)
Cindy Kurman Barrie and Lee Barrie are the principals of Kurman Communications, Inc., a Chicago-based marketing and public relations agency. Please visit their blog at www.gotbuzzatkurman.com and check out all DineWise articles at www.dinewisechicago.blogspot.com. Follow us on Twitter @Dinewise.