Hot and Cold 

Ice cream store offers unusual flavors and unconventional ways of trying them

Ice cream store offers unusual flavors and unconventional ways of trying them

When the heat is on—and on, and on, and on—there are few things that hit the spot better than a cold beer or a bowl of ice cream. Why not kill two birds with one stone? A Black Licorice Beer Float marries two hot-weather treats in one cool concoction. That's one suggestion from Cold Stone Creamery, a retail ice cream chain that introduced five new flavors to its repertoire in July—which just happens to be National Ice Cream Month.

Like Maggie Moo's, the idea at Cold Stone is that more is, well, more. A standard menu of ice cream flavors is made fresh daily in each of the company's more than 1,000 stores; customers customize their order by selecting a flavor and add-ins—everything from fruit to nuts and candy to cereal, which are mixed together on a frozen granite stone, then scooped into a bowl or a cone.

The new flavors are wasabi ginger, fruity cereal (a scary shade of blue), tangerine sorbet, oatmeal cookie batter and black licorice. At Cold Stone's Cool Springs store, the first of several to arrive in the area, the menu suggests add-ins for the new flavors. Meanwhile, the company's PR machine is blitzing the media with materials that offer recommendations for trying the new flavors at home—for example, using the wasabi ginger as a palate cleanser at a Asian-themed dinner party. Pale-green in color, with a slight kick from the wasabi and a zing from the ginger, this was my favorite of the new flavors, but its thick creaminess—a hallmark of all Cold Stone products—doesn't translate well into a between-course palate cleanser.

Likewise, the tangerine sorbet isn't a traditional sorbet, but leans more toward the sherbet realm. I did like Cold Stone's advice to serve it in a chilled champagne glass and top it with fresh raspberries or blueberries and a sprig of fresh mint. Blackberries, which are in season right now, would work terrifically, too, as would a splash of champagne.

But the best suggestion of all is the beer float. Since Cold Stone doesn't actually serve beer, photographer Eric England and I decided to get some black licorice ice cream to-go and take it to Three Crow Bar, where we drew a small crowd of intrigued bystanders. We used a wide-mouthed glass filled nearly to the top with Guinness (though you could use any stout beer), added two scoops of ice cream, sprayed on some whipped cream and topped it with a cherry. Most of the onlookers refused to try it, but Eric and I were game. He summed it up nicely: "It's not as bad as it sounds, but it's not as good as you want it to be."

Pick up some black licorice ice cream at Cold Stone's Cool Springs location at 600 Frazier Drive (phone: 771-6569). On Aug. 6, a new franchise celebrates its grand opening at 782 Old Hickory Blvd. in Brentwood, with 100 percent of sales donated to Make-A-Wish Foundation of Middle Tennessee.

For people who don't want to drive to the 'burbs, Bound'ry executive chef Theresa Everett makes things easier with her Guinness Stout ice cream—one of the flavors she's creating on a nightly basis. Chill out with walnut-crunch, avocado-pineapple, Madagascar vanilla bean, or white cheddar ice cream with fresh apple pie.

—Kay West

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