At one time, Big Game hunters travelled the world to pit their rifles, determination, and cold hard cash against wild animals. During the middle of the 20th century, the image of the Big Game hunter made a splash into popular media–showing up even in an episode of The Twilight Zone. The thrill of the hunt, the danger of wild animals, the taste of meat out on the savannah stirs the imagination.
I prefer to hunt for a great ice cream cone. That’s harder than you might think. Only the bravest hunters dare.
Ice cream season is relatively limited. Ice cream season is almost over in fact. Hunters will note that the season is open only when the sun is shining and the air is warmer than your freezer. Some hunters prefer temperatures of at least 66 F to get the best game. Some hunters will eat ice cream any time of the year–including December, which is right out as that’s egg nog season–but this behavior is considered poaching and punishable by extra weight accumulating around your middle. In El Cerrito, a foggy city in the San Francisco Bay Area, ice cream season is limited to three days in October. Yes, October historically has the warmest days of the year In El Cerrito. For those of you living in hot and humid climates, our sympathy for you moves the official ice cream hunters association that any day when you feel like it is officially a day in the ice cream season with the exception of December.
During ice cream season, I prefer to head south to warmer climates. The trek to the deep south as the hidden jungles of Berkeley and Oakland often provide not only a longer, more viable ice cream season, these exotic places also provide better game. True, El Cerrito had an ice cream outpost in the form of Cold Stone Creamery. This store wreaked of sour milk, inept service, and foul game. It was better avoided at all costs.
Making a foray into the south for the great ice cream hunt is not without danger. Never underestimate the power of longing for cool, silky ice cream to get you to settle for lesser game. Why all this driving? I could pop into a convenience store and grab a little cardboard tub of Nestle ice cream. No, brother, no. Resist the temptation of this evil.
Please do not confuse any products at Starbucks with actual ice cream. Yes, Starbucks products are not considered an official find for good ice cream despite the fact that their drinks are little more than caffeine injected milk shakes. If you consider this stuff ice cream, stop reading this article and go away. We don’t like you. You are confused and need more help than we can offer. And put your car keys in the trash. All you people amped up on Starbucks need to stop driving.
Back to ice cream.
For those of you who prefer to make your own ice cream at home, you’re on your own. It is a dangerous black art which the ice cream hunters association cannot approve at this time. We will take home made ice cream into consideration later, but this domesticated variety is certainly not a hunt.
Currently, I have two locations in mind for prime ice cream hunting. If you know of other locations, please contact the hunter’s association immediately. The first location is the venerable Fenton’s ice cream. The second is the new hot spot–or is that cold spot?–called Ici. Pronounced in the original French “stoopidamerikan”.
Fenton’s started dishing up ice cream back in 1894. That’s before seaweed from the Philippines in the form of carrageenan became an ingredient in ice cream. Fenton’s was such a favorite place for ice cream that arson, construction delays, and the zoning board of Oakland couldn’t keep it down. Though the two years it took to rebuild the place nearly tortured everyone in the neighborhood. Fenton’s is not new world ice cream. It is good, old fashion ice cream that does well with their homemade carmel. Lots of carmel. Be on your guard though, this cold treat can sneak up on you unaware, knock you to the ground, and cause you to enter into a deep food coma. Ice cream hunting is not for the weak of heart. Literally. Check with your physician before gorging yourself.
Ici stands as a hot new comer in the lands south of University Avenue. Ici means here in French. As in come here little hunter, hunter. Come here for a little ice cream, then bam! Oh, it hits you hard like no ice cream can. As long as you’re okay with new world ice cream. Some people are such traditionalists. Give me either. It’s ice cream! On my first visit to Ici with my daring wife Jill, we decided to go for the non-traditional fruit flavors. They were good. Very exotic. Not exactly what we were looking to get. So what did we do? We went back for a second ice cream cone. Yes, a second ice cream cone. You know ice cream is good when you go for a second cone to get the perfect combination of flavor and mouth feel. The chocolate ice cream with the crispy, tender, rich cone filled with a bit of chocolate syrup at the bottom is as next to perfect game as you can find. So if you’re out for game but not feeling like something too exotic, go for the chocolate ice cream in the cone with a bit of chocolate syrup at the bottom.
Be warned brothers and sisters. Both of these sugary, milk laden beasts can cause serious and irreparable harm. Don’t say we didn’t warn you. Well, okay, so no one ever gets killed hunting for an ice cream cone. Unless of course, your driving around all amped up on Starbucks.