5 frosty treats to sweeten your west Tennessee summer
I’m Floridian by birth. That makes me an expert on whippin’ some heat. I’ve been caught scream-skipping through the Memphis Zoo geyser with my four-year-old, and I’m probably the one you saw smiling as I got a good soaking in that afternoon rain (some days get so hot here, the sky perspires with precipitation). But my sweetest trick for surviving summer in west Tennessee remains the frozen treat. Try one for yourself, as my daughter and I did every day after school last week. Today, we dish on our favorites:
1. La Michoacana, Memphis
Mom’s scoop: This neveria/paleteria (Mexican ice cream parlor and popsiclery) home-makes its products using natural ingredients. The result is a rainbow of ice creams and paletas starring huge chunks of good things – from big ’ol bites of Oreo in the cookies-and-cream ice cream to whole strawberries in the kiwi-strawberry paleta. Speaking of whole strawberries, I watched an employee drown a cup of them in whole cream as we were leaving last week. Fresas con crema, I’m coming back for you.
Kid’s scoop: “The nice man behind the counter told us about all of the ice cream flavors and gave me lots of samples. I got strawberry cheesecake ice cream in a waffle cone and I ate the WHOLE thing.”
4091 Summer Ave., Memphis; Open daily, 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
2. Mama D’s Italian Ice, Memphis
Mom’s scoop: As a mother, Dee Moore cares about the quality of ingredients she puts into her homemade “Mama D’s” treats. Her Italian ice is fat-, dairy- and gluten-free; her pops are naturally sweetened – often times with local honey; other times with nothing but the fruit itself. As a mother (and frequent consumer of frozen treats), I appreciate all of that – along with the fun of finding Mama D’s products at our favorite farmers markets, and savoring her “grown-up” pop flavors like hibiscus mint, chocolate sea salt and peach ginger.
Kid’s scoop: “My favorites are strawberry lemonade and mango [Italian ice]. But I can’t wait to try the blackberry pop with [Greek] yogurt and honey!” [Mom’s note: The blink-and-miss-it blackberry season is about to hit in west Tennessee, and Mama D sources all of her blackberries locally. Look for her blackberry pop in June while supplies last, or order an Italian ice or pop with peach, watermelon or strawberry in the name – Mama D sources those fruits locally, too.]
Among other spots around town, you can find Mama D’s products Wednesdays at the Memphis Botanic Garden Farmers Market; Thursdays at the Collierville Farmers Market; and Saturdays at the Agricenter Farmers Market, the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market and the Memphis Farmers Market downtown.
3. Jerry’s Sno Cones, Memphis
Mom’s scoop: Jerry’s isn’t for amateurs. Lines (especially after school) are long, and shade is scarce. None of this stops the masses from coming, so bring your sunscreen and your cash and join them. Everyone’s here for one thing: the snow cone, which isn’t presented in a conical paper cup as I expected, but in a large Styrofoam cup with a spoon – perhaps because the consistency of Jerry’s ice is more slush than crunch. The hand-written list of flavors is endless with fruits real and imagined, candy-counter varietals and cartoon characters (you might choose pineapple, bubblegum or “Shrek,” an apple-and-caramel concoction, as examples).
Kid’s scoop: “Make mine a supreme.” [Mom’s note: In this option, Jerry’s tops your snow cone with a twist of soft-serve vanilla ice cream. I didn’t see one person there that afternoon without it, so it must taste as good as it was pretty to look at.]
1657 Wells Station Rd., Memphis; Open Mon.-Sat., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
4. Jones Orchard, Millington
Mom’s scoop: Off of Highway 51 in Millington, Jones Orchard operates a market, country café and you-pick outfit. In strawberry season (April through early May), they sell a smoothie of fresh berries, milk, sugar and ice for $3. Rumor has it they’re going to mix up something with peaches here soon. Keep an eye on their ripening calendar and Facebook page for the (juicy) details.
7170 Highway 51 N., Millington; Hours for market, café and you-pick vary.
5. Brooks Shaw’s Old Country Store, Jackson
Mom’s scoop: The ice cream and fudge shop inside Brooks Shaw’s Old Country Store (part of Casey Jones Village in Jackson) is just what you’d imagine an erstwhile ice cream parlor to be, complete with a tin ceiling, rich wallpaper and bottle-cap checkers. No surprise it was named one of the top 50 ice cream parlors in America by USA Today (2010). With crazy-rich fudge and homemade pies, it’s easy to neglect the ice cream here. My strategy: Ask for a sample of fudge and order your pie à la mode.
Kid’s scoop: ”I beat dad at checkers.” [Mom's note: She liked the ice cream too, though so many choices – cones, milkshakes, sundaes, banana splits, floats – seemed to swirl around her initially like a storm before the calm. One spoonful of strawberry cheesecake ice cream, and a checkers victory, apparently, were just the summer cool-down she needed.]
56 Casey Jones Ln., Jackson; Open Mon.-Sat., 6:30 a.m. – 9 p.m.; Sun. 8 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Now tell me: What are your favorite frozen treats in west Tennessee? Or, what’s your signature order at one of the spots I mentioned here?