|Atlanta's Best Ice-cream and Gelato
by Virginia Willis
Ice cream has a magical quality. One lick of an ice cream cone instantly brings back memories of childhood. Remember when all of lifes happiness seemed to rest solely upon the question one scoop or two? and plain or sugar cone? Remember the splendor of melted ice cream running down your arm because you bit off the bottom of the cone? How about memories of mom wiping off sticky mouths coated in a fine mixture of ice cream and dirt?
According to the International Dairy Foods Association, the average American consumes over 22 quarts of ice cream a year. Frozen confections have long mesmerized both children and adults alike needing refreshment on a blistering day.
The history of ice cream is shrouded in unproven folklore. Fanciful stories abound from the Emperor Nero having ice brought down from the Alps to cool his drinks, Marco Polo bringing ice cream from China and Catherine de Medici introducing it to France. There is not a scrap of historic evidence to back up any of these legends.
We do know that ice cream is a smooth, sweet, cold food prepared from a frozen mixture of milk products and flavorings and eaten as a snack or dessert. The USDA requires products labeled ice cream to contain at least ten percent milk fat and 20 percent milk solids. Yawn.
Gelato just sounds more interesting for the simple reason that its Italian. Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, from the past participle of gelare, which means to freeze. Most people think that gelato has more fat than traditional ice cream. Gelato tastes richer because less air is whipped into it and is therefore denser. In Italy, many restaurants serve gelato, but it is traditionally made in a gelateria and sold as a between-meal snack.
Sorbet is the French word for sherbet, which Italians call sorbetto. Sorbet is a smooth, creamy frozen delicacy consisting of sugar, water and often a fruit puree or fruit juice, and sometimes wine or liqueur.
. In Atlanta, there are plenty of small shops that sell hand-crafted ice cream, franchises still making an effort to produce a quality product and large corporations that make good, bad and mediocre ice creams. Atlanta is one of the nations ice cream hot spots with its number of ice cream outlets. Here are some of our favorite places to cool down:
Ben & Jerry's
800 Highland Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30306
Ben & Jerrys Ice Cream is popular for unique names and innovative flavors such as Cherry Garcia and Chunky Monkey. Now owned by the super-corporation Unilever, it is still committed to using wholesome ingredients and promoting business practices that respect the environment. Chocolate for a Change was developed to encourage social change in Africa. Cocoa beans are a huge problem because in many parts of West Africa its harvested by slave labor. With Chocolate for a Change, Ben & Jerrys Ice Cream buys cocoa from farmers that have signed a code of conduct pledging to uphold the human rights of all workers. Ben & Jerrys is the best place to eat ice cream and do a good deed.
Bruster's Old Fashioned Ice Cream
3857 Peachtree Rd NE
Atlanta, GA 30319-3388
Walking up to the small-screen window to order ice cream reminds me of walking on the Atlantic Ocean boardwalk. Its not uncommon to see a line outside of this roadside stand on any given summer evening. Bruster's Old Fashioned Ice Cream is one of Atlantas most popular summer hangouts. Brusters started as a family-owned ice cream shop in 1989 in Pennsylvania. Today, Brusters is ranked among the nations leading franchises, and they are still managing to do it right. They make ice cream fresh daily without chemicals or preservatives. There are a couple of dozen Bruster's in the greater Atlanta area. Its a great place for families to have a seat on the bench and enjoy a cone.
Cold Stone Creamery
133 East Court Square
Decatur GA, 30030
The hippest new thing in ice cream involves a frozen granite slab and getting crazy with the toppings. The ice cream, yogurt and sorbets are made fresh on site at Cold Stone every day. Customers start by choosing an ice cream flavor and the various candies, nuts, fruits and/or cookies they want mixed in. The concoction is blended together on a slab chilled to 15 degrees right before your eyes. Its not only ordering ice cream, its also entertainment. There are about 15 or so core flavors including French Vanilla, Double Dutch Chocolate, Peanut Butter and Butter Pecan. There are 40 mix-ins including roasted almonds, Heath Bar, strawberries and brownies. Not the place to go if you are feeling indecisive!
Jake's Ice Creams & Sorbets
676 Highland Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30312
Unusual flavors, all natural ice cream and the fun atmosphere have made Jake's an Atlanta favorite. The shop is a neighborhood hangout. Inventive flavors include Brown Shugah Vanilla, the popular Honey Fig and Coffee & Donuts. There are about 40 delicious ice cream flavors to choose from, along with 17 sorbet flavors.
Orange & Scarlett's
814 Juniper St NE B-2
Atlanta, GA 30308
Carved out of the exposed basement of a converted home in Midtown near Cavu and Spice is the trendy Orange and Scarletts. Half the space is Orange with its bagels, sandwiches, juice and yogurt. Scarlett's, the other half, offers ice cream, crêpes, desserts and coffee. This tiny cafe with low ceilings and hip décor has become a Midtown darling. Lucero Martinez-Obregons creative flavors of homemade ice cream include Georgia Pine made with feta cheese, honey and pine nuts as well as chocolate, pistachio and coffee.
Paolo's Gelato Italiano
1025 Virginia Ave
Atlanta, GA 30306
Paolo's Gelato Italiano is real Italian gelato made by a real Italian, Paolo. Paolo is exuberant, passionate and serious about his ice cream and his shop. Virginia Highlands is known for unique boutiques, but Paolos is a playground. Look for the giant ice cream cone outside. Inside, the shop contains colorful displays of imported candy, lollipops, chocolates and coffees. Paolo offers over 60 hand-crafted Italian gelato flavors including Limoncello, Almond and Panna Cotta.
Whats the Scoop
1402 N Highland Ave
Atlanta, GA 30306-3301
Undulating waves of creamy gelato and lush fruit sorbet in stainless steel pans fill the glass case. Owned and operated by Janine and Alon Balshan of Alons Bakery, this minimalist Soho-style ice cream shop is sleek and clean with cool marble countertops. Whats the Scoop produces gelato and sorbet made daily on the premises. One bite and I was instantly whisked to Italy. Absolute heaven. The chocolate gelato was rich, creamy and not too hard or soft. Other flavors include dulce de leche, stracciatella and Heath Bar. Bellisima!