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Entries in ice cream shops (2)

Monday
Oct142013

CakeSpy Undercover: The Vanilla Moose, Aztec NM

I need to tell you about the business that may just be my favorite soft serve ice cream joint on earth. 

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

And please know that this statement does not come lightly, as I was born and raised by the Jersey Shore, a soft serve mecca if ever there was one.

But in the most unexpected place--Aztec, New Mexico, in a region called "Four Corners" given its proximity to the spot where New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah all meet--there is a most magical ice cream spot called The Vanilla Moose.

Here's what you'll see as you drive up. 

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

There are picnic tables leading up to the burger shack-style order window. You can drive through, too, but that's definitely not as much fun as walking up. 

Soft serve is what's on the menu here, vanilla and chocolate, and it's done right. It's creamy and smooth, with none of the "ew"-y grainy texture that can characterize lesser varieties of soft serve (and like I said, I know). But if a plain ol' cone is too boring for you, that's ok, because they have a number of different ways to dress it up, as you'll see on the menu. Vanilla Moose, Aztec

By the way, the menu boasts "spoiling dinners since 1983" and "as always, free doggie & baby cones". Seriously, don't you love them already?

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

There are floats, cones, shakes, and especially sundaes. Now, don't get me wrong, because we got a shake and it was most excellent--chocolate with almond syrup and almonds inside and on top of the shake, thankyouverymuch--

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

But. In my opinion, the true joy here is the sundaes. We sampled several, so I feel well qualified to tell you about it. They are served in several sizes, but I found the "junior" size to be just right. It's like a small ice cream, but when topped with a number of different textured and flavored additions and whipped cream and a cherry on top, it's the perfect amount. 

Some highlights? The brownie sundae was a study in balance, with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream playing beautifully off of the chocolate-rich brownies (made by owner Pam) and the rich fudge sauce. When it slightly began to melt and all of the flavors came together...perfection. Good with nuts, too. 

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

The peanut cluster sundae was ideal for this sweet-and-salty dessert lover. Creamy vanilla ice cream was coated with caramel and crunchy salty roasted peanuts, then (why not) it was all topped with hot fudge, whipped cream and a cherry. It was just indulgent enough, and the saltiness made each bite completely tantalizing, making you want more sweet, and then the taste of sweet made you want more salty. 

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

During a week-long stay in the area, we went four times. The owner, Pam, who took over the business from her mother, and her employee were both just stellar, dealing with simultaneous drive-through and walk-up customers with ease, speed, and friendliness. On a visit when there was no line, Pam came 'round the counter and sat with us and talked about New Mexico, spirituality, cross-country moves, and of course, her role as one who brings sweetness to many lives. She's a pretty cool lady. Tell her I said hi if you go. 

And, speaking of which, yes, I do think you should go. Aztec is an interesting little town, with Native American ruins which are fascinating to tour, and it's just a stone's throw from uber-cute Durango, Colorado. It's worth a visit if you find yourself in that part of the world.

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

But please, make sure you visit The Vanilla Moose. I'll warn you, they're closing in about 2 weeks (a little before Halloween) for the season, but they'll be back in the spring, and the spring after that, and it's my sincere hope that they are there forever. Because we need places like this to make us pause from being so busy in our everyday lives, and savor some sweetness just for a few minutes.

OH! And remember how I told you they do free doggie cones? Guess who we brought on one of our visits...

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

Yeah, this happened. Porkchop loves The Vanilla Moose, too! Wonder what emotions he felt while eating his cone.

 

Vanilla Moose, Aztec

The Vanilla Moose, 1721 West Aztec Boulevard, Aztec NM 87401. On Facebook.

Monday
Jun272011

Sweet Chill: CakeSpy Visits Humphrey Slocombe, San Francisco

San Francisco has an almost obscene amount of delicious ice cream. And one that I finally got to visit this trip, on the urging of many, was Humphrey Slocombe. Their flavors are crazy! People would say.

When Bridget (SpySister) and I walked over, I was surprised by how not-crazy the décor seemed: for some reason I had it in my mind that this place was going to be like Voodoo Donuts or something. Well, it wasn't, but the flavors certainly were different (see a full listing of some of the flavor possibilities here); on the day of our visit, some highlights included: “Secret Breakfast” was cornflake and bourbon-infused, and other choices included vietnamese coffee, Fluffernutter, Pepper Mint (Pepper. Mint. Not "Peppermint") and "Jesus Juice" Sorbet--a mix of wine and Coca Cola.

We sampled the "Secret Breakfast" and the "Open Hand Fluffernutter", and each upgraded to a scoop of the sampled flavors.

So how does Slocombe stack up in SF's ice cream hierarchy? Well. The style of the ice cream seemed a little lighter and less rich than some of the other scoops in town, but it was still very creamy and flavorful; the flavors themselves, while unlikely in some cases, seemed well balanced and thoughtful—not just flavors dreamed up for shock value. This is what I would consider an ice cream for everyday eating--not so fancy or overly rich that it's a special-occasion type of treat.

The employees were all very friendly too, and there was no line when we went, and it was sunny and there was a table, so we filed ourselves under “Winning”.

Humphry Slocombe, 2790 Harrison Street, San Francisco; online at humphryslocombe.com.

Humphry Slocombe on Urbanspoon

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