Bathing suit, schmathing suit. The fact is, you're either young enough to look good in one or you're old enough that you're stuck at the office anyway. So why not give up the pipe dream and pick up some ice cream—or at least a little froyo? A trio of small businesses is scooping, swirling and churning a delicious selection of frozen confections to help break the heat on the sunny summer days.
A cornerstone of the budding Riverside Village community, Sip Café started out as a coffee shop. But it got a sidecar of ice cream added last year, when Mike Duguay, owner of Mike's Ice Cream on Broadway, took over the twee café and added a freezer to the spare accessories of old-school desks. A Michigander who migrated south six years ago to open the Broadway store, Duguay recently relocated his ice-cream manufacturing operations to a warehouse behind Sip, where long-awaited chocolatier Olive & Sinclair is also planning to open.
At the downtown shop (208 Broadway), Duguay sells a selection of homemade and Purity brand ice creams. But at Sip it's all the house recipe, and the freshness stands out. A scoop of mocha almond chip was so satiny and creamy that when we polished off the crisp sugar cone we almost walked back in from the serene Riverside Village courtyard to order seconds—you know, just to make sure it wasn't a fluke. But with self-control in check, we resolved to return another time to plow through the 16-to-18 rotating flavors, including peanut butter cookie, strawberry and rum raisin. (When we called Duguay later to ask what accounted for the unusually fresh textures and flavors, he explained that the nuts are so crunchy because they're fresh from The Peanut Shop in the Arcade downtown and the mocha comes from an extremely strong batch of Drew's Brews.)
Don't overlook the fact that blending an ice cream parlor and a coffee shop opens the door to concoctions such as Sip's butter pecan milk shake with two shots of espresso. Made with homemade ice cream and local Drew's Brews, the buttery buzz could become a signature taste of summer, in Riverside Village and beyond.
Sip Café serves coffee, pastries and ice cream 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Don't get Brooklyn transplant Corrado Savarino started on people who make fake gelato. His is the real deal—made with a labor-intensive egg custard—and there's just no substitute. Which means it's been a long wait for the folks who love Savarino's traditional recipe. After the move from Nolensville Road to Hillsboro Village, Savarino's gelato machine was on the fritz for a while, but he finally got things in working order this spring. Now Al Bunetta, Ed Pontieri, Mike Figlio—and all the other regulars who have sandwiches named for them at the clubby eatery—have a cool, sweet finale to their lingering lunches of homemade pizzas, stuffed artichokes and eponymous sandwiches.
It takes three days to mix a batch of gelato. There's the custard, which has to cool and settle for a day to allow all the air to escape, then the blending of the flavors, then the freezing. Savarino makes a batch of base every week and infuses it with flavors such as tiramisu, pistachio, hazelnut and chocolate. He sells a 5-ounce cup for $3. He also makes Italian ices—a lighter formula with milk or water in lieu of the egg custard—in flavors such as lemon, cherry and almond.
If you're lucky, you might get there on a day when Savarino has some spumoni on hand—and for your own sake, don't get him started on those charlatans who confuse spumoni with Neapolitan ice cream.
Savarino makes the real deal. He starts with a round mold, which he fills with layers of pistachio, tiramisu and stracciatella (chocolate chip) gelato, whipped cream and candied cherries. He refreezes the mold, then removes and cuts it in quarters, with each wedge revealing the colored layers.
While Savarino sells most of his spumoni wholesale, if you're lucky—or Italian—he might sell you one for $10. If he doesn't have any available, you could also try Bound'ry restaurant. Chef Lee Guidry, a recent alumnus of the Italian Market, has added Savarino's spumoni to Bound'ry's dessert menu.
With National Spumoni Day in the U.S. coming up Aug. 21, you might also ask Savarino if he has any big plans. But chances are he'll just shrug it off, as he does with so many of the Americanized Italian food traditions he comes across. When asked about the occasion, he scoffed, "It's Spumoni Day? Oh, I had no idea. I wonder which spumoni they're talking about."
Savarino's Cucina is open 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
Sweet CeCe's When you overhear two women discussing how fast the froyo is pumping out of the self-serve machine today as compared to yesterday, you know you've stumbled across a phenomenon. That's just the type of chitchat surrounding the Belle Meade Hill Center's new candy-colored yogurt emporium, which had been open only a week when moms were confessing that they had already filled out their frequent froyo punch cards and received their first freebies.
Owner and California transplant CeCe Moore struck a nerve—or a taste bud—with her cool collection of serve-yourself frozen yogurts, eight flavors of which are available at any time. Original Tart, a tangy, mildly sweet flavor that recalls the refreshing zing of plain yogurt, is the non-fat smash hit among the moms, who load it with fresh fruit and nuts. Meanwhile, kids don't seem to notice that CeCe's chocolate, vanilla, peanut butter, cheesecake, mango and Georgia peach—among others—are also low-cal and, in some cases, sugar-free. With any luck, the luscious flavors and colorful toppings will help take the sting out of ouchies, boo-boos and tetanus shots when a brace of pediatric practices moves into the office space upstairs this fall.
Of course, CeCe's offerings aren't exactly diet-right by the time you pile the Snickers, Oreos, chocolate fudge sauce, M&M's, Reese's Pieces, sour worms, gumballs and cookie dough into the tubs of cool creaminess. Furthermore, when it comes to weight-watching, be vigilant at the toppings bar. All those cookies and candy bars add up—not just in terms of calories, but in terms of dollars. Sweet CeCe's charges 55 cents per ounce, and the average treat is about $5, Moore says. Unless, of course, the kids are in charge...in which case don't be surprised to find yourself handing over bigger bills for a bowlful of jaw-breaking frozen gummy bears. Or unless the yogurt's shooting out of the machine especially fast today, as compared to yesterday.
Sweet CeCe's is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 615-844-9408.
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