Celebrate National Ice Cream Month with an armchair tour of KC’s splendid artisan treats.
Something cold and frosty on a sizzling summer day is an indescribable pleasure, and Kansas City has plenty of skin-shivering delights stashed in its collective deep freeze. From concretes to custards, scoops to sundaes and gummy worms to gelatos, there’s plenty to satisfy your chill of choice on meltingly hot July days.
There’s a fittingly sweet story behind Waldo’s recently opened ice cream parlor, Betty Rae’s. Owners David Friesen and Mary Nguyen met during college in Columbia, Missouri, where they both worked at Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream, dreaming up flavors one day and selling them the next. Now the husband and wife team have set up shop just blocks away from where Nguyen grew up. A display case features 24 flavors, which can be enjoyed on their own or as part of an array of menu items such as ice cream sandwiches with fresh-baked cookies, floats, shakes, affogatos or sundaes.
In the Brookside neighborhood, ice cream icon Foo’s Fabulous Frozen Custard whips up all sorts of goodies to help dodge summer’s sticky temps. Favorites include Turtle Creek and Tin Roof sundaes and generous concretes (try the Kickin’ Combo—caramel, peanut butter and chocolate) or get a three-scoop in a waffle cone, perfect for strolling and window-shopping around charming Brookside.
Suffer through the dog days fashionably with one of celebrated chocolatier Christopher Elbow’s below-zero confections at Glacé Artisan Ice Cream on Main Street or in Leawood. So pure, so spot-on, so Elbow-esque, the flavors have all the right—and some surprising—stuff. Glacé’s menu constantly shifts to accommodate Elbow’s fondness for mixing it up and experimenting. Standard signature flavors include Salted Pretzel, Lemon Curd and Goat Cheese & Roasted Beets. The Ice Cream Party Pack to Go ($60 serves 10-12 and $110 covers 20-24) includes an assortment of Glacé pints, topping and house-made sauce.
Sylas and Maddy’s Homemade Ice Cream (Olathe and Lawrence) doesn’t scrimp on flavor or ingredients. For their pie-flavored ice cream, a whole pie is added. For their satisfying watermelon sherbet, a whole watermelon is added to the ice cream machine. And for their addictive Chocolate Brownie flavor—well, you get the idea. Try the homemade waffle cones for an added treat or order a sundae, smoothie or fresh limeade.
Ice cream lovers rejoice when Murray’s Ice Cream & Cookies, a seasonal Westport shop, opens to serve its brand of summer refreshment. From banana splits to house-made waffle cones (the sugar smell alone puts you in a trance when you walk through the doors) and cookies keep the fans visiting Murray’s. But it’s the ice cream flavors that captivate and endear—a recent menu survey revealed One Drunk Monk, Peanut Butter Polka and Cotton Candy Confetti. Put Murray’s Chocolate Flake Fromage on the top of your ice cream hit list—creamy, flecked with just enough dark chocolate and spiked with cream cheese, it has its own cult following. Murray’s aficionados closely follow the store’s tweets and Facebook posts for the flavor of the day.
Your first inclination when stepping inside Jose Luis Valdez’s Paleterias Tropicana in Kansas City, Kansas (or any of his locations around the metro) is to ditch the shoes and dig your toes into a sand beach. Hip-swaying music, tropical-bright colors and intoxicating smells of fresh fruit and exotic food fool you for a dreamy minute. It’s not vacation, but close to it: Valdez, who worked for chefs Rick Tramonto and Rick Bayless in Chicago, and his wife, Lucia Fonseca, moved to Kansas City from the Windy City in 2004 to launch their concept of ice cream produced in the Michoacán style. After researching the frozen treats of their youth that were hawked from street pushcarts (he grew up in Mexico City, she in Sinaloa) and visiting shops in Hispanic-rich U.S. cities selling it like Houston, Los Angeles and Miami, the couple lugged old-fashioned ice cream machines, a crank-style churro maker and lots of recipes from Guadalajara and set up shop in a tiny space on Southwest Boulevard. Valdez’s Mexican-style ice creams come by their robust and explosive flavors (lime, strawberry, chocolate, one with roasted pine nuts, one with a kick of heat at the end, tangy tequila) honestly: fresh, high-quality ingredients, no preservatives.
Grab an old-fashioned or new-fangled cool treat from Johnson County’s reigning custard king, Sheridan’s Frozen Custard. Popular menu items include sundaes such as The Razzle Dazzle, which features vanilla custard, fresh raspberries and Sheridan’s decadent hot fudge sauce, and the Buck A Roo, a feisty combination of vanilla custard, sliced strawberries and bananas drizzled with hot fudge. Say “I do!” to the Wedding Cake Concrete—a memorable confection including a whole slice of wedding cake blended with vanilla custard. And if you’re feeling ghoulish, try the Dirt and Worms, a concrete that successfully mixes up Oreo cookies and gummy worms in vanilla custard. —Kimberly Stern
Photos via Facebook.