The Scoop on Ice Cream

Lynn Cline - July 10, 2018

One of America's favorite desserts, ice cream has been in fashion for centuries

Would it surprise you to learn that July is all about ice cream? Probably not, since it's one of summer's most iconic foods. That must be why July is officially National Ice Cream Month. But there's more: July 17 is National Peach Ice Cream Day and July 20 marks National Ice Cream Sundae Day. And for sweet's sake, don't miss out on National Vanilla Ice Cream Day on July 23; National Hot Fudge Sundae Day on July 25 and National Coffee Milkshake Day on July 26.

It's not like we need an excuse to indulge in ice cream, however. One of America's favorite desserts, ice cream has been in fashion for centuries. Cold desserts were a hot item in ancient Greece, where a mixture of snow, fruit and honey were sold in the markets in Athens, perhaps because Hippocrates believed that the mixture “livens the life-juices and increases the well-being.” In ancient Rome, Nero ordered ice to be brought down from the mountains and mixed with fruit for a cold delicacy. And during the 16th century, Mughal emperors had horsemen carry ice to Delhi from the Hindu Kush for use in fruit sorbets.

Flavored ices were in fashion in Europe, too with recipes promising that their consistency would resemble snow and sugar. When the Quaker colonists came to America in the 17th century, they brought their ice cream recipes with them, and soon you could buy the sweet treat from confectionary shops in New York and other cities. Everyone loved ice cream, including Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, who had his own 18-step recipe for making it. George Washington reportedly spent $200 on ice cream in the summer of 1790 and at the 1813 Inaugural Ball for President James Madison, First Lady Dolley Madison served ice cream.

Today, America is the second highest ice cream-consuming country in the world, behind New Zealand. (Australia comes in at number three, followed by Finland and Sweden.)Yet, despite the staggering array of flavors available in the U.S.—including corn on the cob, lobster and pizza—vanilla ranks as America's favorite. An equally wide array of toppings—from fruit to nuts, peanut butter cups, sprinkles and more—hasn't displaced chocolate syrup as the world's most favorite topping. And did you know that California produces more ice cream than any other state? Or that it takes 50 licks to finis a single scoop on a cone? That's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to facts about the world's favorite frozen treat.

It's no surprise that the best ice cream is homemade, with a better texture and a superior flavor. But if you don't have the time to churn, here's the scoop on some of the best ice cream dishes you'll find in Santa Fe restaurants this summer.

Joseph's Culinary Pub, where Chef/owner Josep Wrede works his magic in the kitchen, serves exquisite cuisine, and desserts are no exception. Joseph's Caramel Tamari Duck Fat Ice Cream is the bomb. It might sound crazy to you, but this rich and delicious dessert, featuring vanilla ginger, local pistachio-honey and coffee, has legions of fans. If you love duck, you can savor it here for all three courses, not just dessert. But if you don't, you'll love the basil orange, thyme lemon and tarragon grapefruit sorbet.

Maize also offers some creative ice cream desserts, including the Dreamcatcher, an ethereal concoction of chocolate pecan mousse, pinon meringue and pistachio ice cream. Or re-live your childhood with the Arroyo Camp Fire, an upscale version made cinnamon graham, toasted marshmallow, chocolate and vanilla ice cream.

Arroyo Vino draws from its restaurant garden for a luscious dessert of rhubarb ice cream, which is served with a light lemon pistachio cake and strawberry jam. At 315 Restaurant & Wine Bar, you'll find a delectable warm cherry tartlet with cinnamon ice cream as well as profiteroles with vanilla ice cream. At Geronimo, you can indulge in a trio of house-made ice creams and sorbets in flavors that include buttermilk, smoked cream, vanilla, lime, coconut & raspberry. At La Boca, cool off with vanilla bean ice cream and brandied cherries.

Who can resist the famous Baked Ice Cream at Cowgirl BBQ? This zany dessert looks like a baked potato, but it's made of vanilla ice cream dusted with cocoa powder,. The butter pats on top are made with lime-sugar, the whipped cream resembles sour cream and pecans chopped and dyed green resemble scallions. This ice cream sculpture is so popular, it was featured in the “Bizarre Bites” episode of the The Food Network's “The Best Of” show, and you can find the recipe on the Food Network's website, if you'd like to make it at home.