thoughts on food, culture, and community

Archive for the tag “ice cream”

Not like Mom’s: Authentic Belgian waffles, Waffalonia, Pittsburgh

"The Antwerp"

“The Antwerp” with speculoos ice cream, April 2014

I happen to be intrigued by almost everything about Belgium. Geographically, politically, and historically lodged between Holland (the country that introduced me to Europe) and France (the primary country that speaks the language that I study), Belgium is the intersection of Europe at which I feel most myself. The French accent seems softer here, and the humor, brighter. In Belgium, Lynn and I began our walk along the Western Front in 2010, and I had my first argument in full-blown French (avec “vous” et tout) with a bartender in 2007. Wine as the national beverage is traded for the beer that links me to my boyfriend, and the land smooths into long wide fields that carry me back to my family’s Pennsylvanian farm.

So of course I was going to love the authentic Belgian waffles Waffalonia (Oakland and Squirrel Hill, Pittsburgh), which serves up hearty, sweet waffles stunningly unlike those onto which my central Pennsylvania grandmother douses chicken and gravy. Instead, these Liège-style waffles are made from a yeast-driven dough and stuffed with imported sugar crystals that caramelize under heat.

It may be lost on many Pittsburghers that these waffles are named after Belgian cities and displayed on a menu that recalls a European railway schedule, but I used pass through Antwerp (here with speculoos ice cream and chocolate syrup) by train in 2007, and I was enchanted by the cobblestones streets of Bruges (here with strawberries and whipped cream) when I was fifteen.

Beyond the memories, the waffles are to die for. Pressed to order, the waffles are topped with fresh fruits, syrups, spreads, or locally-made Dave and Andy’s ice cream.

French student-approved

French student-approved, April 2014

Squirrel Hill
1707 Murray Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
(412) 521-4902

4212 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
(412) 685-4081

Friday Photo: Morano Gelato, Hanover, New Hampshire


These whipped cloud-like mounds of gelato display the dessert’s luxuriousness. July 2013.

Being the daughter of a dairy farmer, I have an incredible weakness for dairy products, especially ice cream. However, even I admit that once you taste gelato, like that of Morano Gelato in Hanover, New Hampshire, there’s no turning back.

According to the Morano website, gelato differs from American ice cream in three main ways: gelato has a lower butterfat content (4-9% verses 14-25%), is less dense than traditional ice cream (20-30% air verses 50%), and is served at 10-15 degrees warmer than traditional ice cream is. These qualities allow gelato to pack an incredibly rich, creamy mouthfeel, so decadent that only a few spoonfuls are endlessly satisfying. No triple-decker cone is needed here.

Called “the best gelato in America” by Forbes magazine, the gelato at Morano is made fresh daily and sells out every evening. Come early to try out flavors like Almond, English Custard, or Dark Chocolate — which was too rich for even me — or to sample classic Italian espressos and sandwiches amid the boutique’s chic décor and outdoor seating.

57 South Main Street
Hanover, New Hampshire

Friday-Saturday, 11:00am-10pm
Tuesday-Thursday & Sunday, 11:00am-9:30pm

Hours change seasonally.

Miracle milkshakes? Burgatory Bar, Waterworks, Pittsburgh

Caramel Pretzel, Burgatory, February 2012

Caramel Pretzel halo, Burgatory, February 2012

I never thought I could be impressed by a milkshake enough to think that it was a gift from Heaven. However, those from Burgatory, a little joint that markets itself as serving up a “Helluva Burger” and “Heavenly Shakes,” might as well be.

I don’t even know what “house-turned vanilla bean ice cream” is (is “turned” Pittsburgh-ese for “churned”?) — but when spun with organic local ingredients, served in a frosted glass with a straw that’s finally an appropriate thickness, and pushed across the bar with the extra drippings in the metal canister it was mixed in — these milkshakes are not for the weak.


Friends required.

My Caramel Pretzel ($6) milkshake was crusted with salty pretzel chunks and wore a halo of lusciously-thick whipped cream, so decadent that by the end of my glass the caramel tasted like straight corn syrup — but I was willing to forgive.

Also available are the divinely-conceived Salted Nutella Crunch (with Nutella and Nestle Crunch bars), Coffee & Donuts (with Kona coffee and donut pieces), and a line-up of hard shakes, such as the Apple Pancakes and Bacon, Burnt Toffee, or Grand-Dad’s Secret. (The complete list of Burgatory shakes is available here.)

Unless you’re training for a food-eating competition or up for testing your virtue of patience, I strongly suggest eating the burger on a separate visit and consulting the wait-time for tables online before you go (visible on the right side of the homepage).

Fox Chapel / Waterworks
932 Freeport Road
Pittsburgh, PA 15238
(412) 781-1456
(View full list of locations.)

Sunday-Thursday 11AM – 10PM
Friday and Saturday 11AM – 11PM

Friday Photo: Sweet Frog frozen yogurt toppings, Mechanicsburg

SweetFrog Yogurt toppings

Sweet Frog yogurt toppings

Ice cream is one of those things that my dad and I have always had in common: he’d come home from working on the farm, and I could always count on him to suggest that ice cream was needed for dessert. (I yet was too young to make a suggestion so bold.)

Sweet Frog Premium Frozen Yogurt of Mechanicsburg isn’t exactly locally-made ice cream like that made by Bootlleg Creamery and sold by Cream Cycles, Harrisburg; it’s also not my premium go-to, which is a peanut butter cup hurricane at Kristy’s Whistle Stop, Enola. And I admit that any of this barely comes close to a Magnum ice cream bar.

However, Sweet Frog does fulfill a childhood dream in a Willy Wanka kind of way. Surrounded by the bright pinks and greens of the building’s interior, I nearly skipped to the wall of frozen-yogurt pumps with which you serve yourself flavors that range from thin mint to pomegranate-raspberry, and I stared (with Christmas-day excitement)  at the bar of toppings that seemed to stretch to eternity.

Should I add M&Ms, chocolate sauce, and mini marshmallows to my fro-yo? Or should I try crushed peanut butter cups and swirl my spoon a bunch to make my own hurricane? What are mango poppers?  Are these really stroopwafel crumbs from Stroopies of Lancaster? (The answer is yes.)  Do I dare sprinkle on some Fruity Pebbles cereal topped with fresh strawberries? What am I saying? I hate Fruity Pebbles! What if somebody sees…?

This week’s Friday Photo is to color and limitless childhood imagination.

Sweet Frog, Mechanicsburg
6416 Carlisle Pike Suite 1100
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050
(717) 697-4301

Friday Photo: Ice cream man reopens with new flavors, locations

Allan Johnson, the ice cream man, taste-tests his product at MoMo’s BBQ and Grill, Harrisburg, where his vintage ice cream tricycle is stored

If you haven’t met Allan Johnson already, you’ve surely seen him.

Maybe he’s been standing next to a peach-colored ice cream cart during the lunch hours of downtown Harrisburg, digging into the cart’s storage compartment to hand out half-pints of homemade ice cream.

Maybe you’ve seen him pedaling down Front Street or juggling bowling pins while surrounded by a crowd of patrons digging into their soft treats with plastic spoons.

Wearing all white except for a black bow tie, ice cream man Allan Johnson is unmistakable—and he’s back for the 2012 summer season.

“An ice cream cart is an American tradition,” says Johnson.

Opened in 2011, Johnson’s company, CreamCycles, is now selling 15 flavors of homemade ice cream made by Bootlleg Creamery in Blain, PA.

“Bootlleg Creamery: it’s so good it should be illegal,” says Johnson, and he’s right.  The ice cream’s velvety texture is coat-your-mouth creamy while not being too heavy, which allows the ice cream to be both full-bodied and refreshing.  Creator Jeff Trout doesn’t skimp on the flavor, either; the Orange Pineapple is bright with citrus and laden with crushed pineapple, and the Peanut Butter—Johnson’s favorite—is so rich that no chocolate swirls are necessary.

New flavors this season include Gangster Grapenut, Sweetheart Cherry, and Coffee Brickle.

Johnson sells half pints of ice cream—which are small enough to eat solo or big enough to share—one for $3 or two for $5.

In addition to his downtown sales, Johnson is also available this season for at block parties, birthday parties, picnics, and fundraisers.  During his off-hours, his vintage ice cream tricycle is stored at MoMo’s BBQ & Grill on 307 Market Street, which also serves Bootlleg’s chocolate and raspberry ice creams on the premises.

“I’m hoping for more exposure this season,” Johnson says.

More exposure may even mean more ice cream carts, he says.  Currently, Johnson is brainstorming about owning a fleet of carts made by local craftsmen and leasing them to individual owners, expanding his business into different markets, including the West Shore.  A second cart on the streets may be seen as early as this summer.

HOURS: 11am-2pm, 4pm-8pm Monday through Friday, downtown Harrisburg.  Weekend hours vary according to local events and the weather. Text Johnson your location for ice cream delivery at 603.801.2420.

This article was first published in The Patriot-News on Wednesday, May 16.

Post Navigation