This week the guys at The Table Set want to party like it’s 1899! And that includes strippers. Oh yes it does. Well pole dancers– actually. But it also includes ice cream. The very thing we all scream for when the weather gets hot. So come along, cool down and get the lowdown on The Ice Cream Social.
These days, when someone says they’re throwing an Ice Cream Social they’re typically talking about a birthday party for six year-olds. But it wasn’t always that way. In fact at the dawn of the twentieth century Ice Cream Socials were parties thrown by adults for adults. There were often educational seminars on current events, and loads of intelligent conversation coming from the mouths of chic folk. Well this week the gents want to bring the adults back to the Ice Cream Social.
Speaking of adult entertainment, Greg and Andy took the party to Jumbo’s Clown Room, HOLLYWOOD’S most NOTORIOUS POLE DANCING club. It’s not a strip club. It’s not a bikini bar, go-go club, or even a burlesque show– they don’t serve ice cream. Two drink minimum. Naturally. Tipping the girls. Required. So when someone asks you where’s the party and the answer is Jumbo’s- just know what you’re in for.
But just one party isn’t enough for either Andy or Nathan. They attended several other frolicking events since you last heard from them. Including a meet up of pork aficionados for a Pig Parts and Beer party. Oh, and a BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING. Andy catered it, so naturally it included plate throwing. I think somebody ended up in the emergency room. But not Nathan or Andy, right? Opa!
But back to the matters at hand. Ice Cream. Sure there’s the tried, true and beloved vanilla, chocolate and strawberry. But this wouldn’t be The Table Set if a few expectations weren’t slashed. Besides Andy has long been adventurous when it comes to building a better bowl of ice cream. From lowbrow Count Chocula, to the über sophisticated Urfa Pepper and highbrow Avocado Coconut, Andy’s not afraid of new flavor combinations. Nathan and Greg have been churning away as well, so check out their creamy concoctions: Orange Blossom Pistachio, Apricot Zabaglione, and an At Home Cherry Garcia from the days of Greg’s broken jaw, when ice cream and summer soup were the order of the day.
Which seems like a pretty impressive menu for any Ice Cream Social. But Andy wanted to round out the selections. So he traveled to Ypsilanti, MI to get the dish on a proper scoop of ice cream from his friend Rob Hess who blogs at Ice Cream Bike. They did this dishing sitting on the front porch (of course) sipping a French 75 (of course) waxing poetic about Traverse City Cherries (naturally). Eventually the talk turned to ice cream. In fact Andy got to live out every kid’s fantasy of four courses of ice cream for breakfast.
The Ice Cream Social is a terrific way to get together with friends. You did it as a kid and you loved it. But an adult centered ice cream party has a long (and proud) history. It’s part of our American story. It’s a wonderful tradition that needs to be kept alive. Because in the modern world it’s just too easy to pick up a pint somewhere and eat it with a spoon standing in front of an open freezer in your underpants. Which is indeed a terrific way to enjoy ice cream (especially when it’s hot). Because there’s nothing wrong with store-bought ice cream. One of Greg’s favorite Ice Cream Parlors is in Columbus, Ohio. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams. But even Jeni recognizes the all-American desire to make great ice cream at home. Maybe even in a social setting. So she shares many of her creative ice cream recipes in her new cookbook. She’s not the only professional encouraging the home ice cream maker. Nathan likes Humphry Slocombe’s Ice Cream Book. Read his thoughts on that particular San Francisco treat here (otherwise known as the day everything changed). And the best Chocolate Sorbet Greg ever made came from David Lebovitz’ book The Perfect Scoop.
All these great resources are helping keep these wonderful traditions alive. But as great as the old-fashioned way of celebrating with ice cream is. It just wouldn’t be The Table Set without a few modern twists and turns. Nathan likes the idea of “Quick Fire” Challenge Ice Cream Party. Imagine a table full of unusual ingredients and toppings laid out in front of the guests/contestants. 1-2-3-GO! It’s a mad rush to make the best, just in time for everyone to taste. That would be one crazy Sundae Bar!
What flavors inspire you? After Andy’s Breakfast of Champions in Yspilanti he left Rob with some fun samples as inspiration for future ice cream projects. Including: Aged Balsamic, Ghost Pepper and Lapsang Souchong Tea. But Nathan and Greg both get excited by the idea of Black Licorice Ice Cream. Greg tasted a soft serve variety in Norway. Nathan loves Humphry Slocombe’s version (a lot). But inspiration is what it’s all about. What flavors inspire you? And what inspires Superman? Andy recently had a red, yellow and blue cone named after that iconic superhero.
But it’s not a conversation about America’s great love affair with ice cream without visiting at least a few of the great American Soda Fountains. Super-Sized Sundaes, Rickey’s, Phosphates and Ice Cream Floats rule the day. There’s a boozy version in Nathan’s Liquor Cabinet this week: Manhattan Ice Cream Float. So pull out the Yellow Pages (do they even exist anymore?) or check out this list from Imbibe magazine. There’s probably one near you. The guys sought out a couple classic Southern California establishments: Fair Oaks Pharmacy in South Pasadena and Fosselman’s in Alhambra. It was their own version of a Breakfast of Champions. Only it included a couple of plates of Chinese pie. But that’s a subject for another episode.
Oh yeah. The Little Gay Record Player has a tune that’s just right for every occasion.