With the exception of some pretty blatant misrepresentation at the time Life in the Boomer Lane, age seven, was about to undergo a tonsillectomy: “You’ll be able to eat all the ice cream you want!” (The ice cream took on the form of nail-embedded sandpaper as it went down LBL’s throat), LBL has been a devoted fan of ice cream.
As money was always tight in the Fisher household, for special occasions, LBL’s mom would get a pint of Crestmont coffee ice cream from the Penn Fruit supermarket (Dad’s favorite flavor, destined to become LBL’s favorite flavor). The pint cost 39 cents. LBL’s mom would divide it into three equal parts (easy to do, as the carton was rectangular). All three family members would sit around the kitchen table with their little slabs of ice cream, silently eating and feeling quite extravagant.
Over the years, LBL’s growing sophistication about life in general (consisting mainly of Don’t pick your nose in public), encompassed her penchant/obsession for ice cream. Ice cream flavors were narrowed down to chocolate, coffee, or butter almond. This meant that when presented with the ubiquitous chocolate and vanilla Dixie cup, LBL would eat the chocolate and toss the vanilla. Or, if she were desperate, she would do a sort of mixture (roughly 75% chocolate, 25% vanilla) with each spoonful. But no matter how much she tried to tell herself otherwise, the vanilla always diluted and ruined the chocolate.
The Good Humor truck didn’t come around often, but, when it did, LBL was sometimes allowed to purchase something. That something was usually a Chocolate Éclair, some kind of chocolaty cookie/ice cream mixture on a stick. LBL would never buy a chocolate-covered ice cream bar, as the chocolate tasted more like wax than the Hershey bars she was devoted to. Chocolate, also, had its standards. Tight money meant few day trips to Atlantic City. But when that did happen, the ice cream vendors who slogged across the sand in blazing hot weather with tee shirts tied around their heads to absorb the sweat, had an enthusiastic customer.
By high school, LBL had started to earn her own money from summer jobs. Her financial independence allowed her to purchase ice cream at will, along with entry into a higher class of both culinary and social standards (Don’t pick your nose in public without the aid of a tissue, that makes it seem like you are just blowing it).
By the time she graduated from college, married, and achieved full independence, LBL’s growing sophistication about life (Don’t pick your nose while driving unless you are absolutely sure that the guy in front of you is far enough away that he can’t see you in his rear view mirror) allowed her to make the ultimate leap, ice cream-wise. She became aware of gourmet ice cream brands. Haagen Dazs quickly beat out the rest of the field. Coffee. No Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey/Chubby Hubby/Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough/etc, consisting of throwing various flavors together and seeing what would happen. Ice cream, like sex, is better with fewer participants at one time.
Until this past weekend, LBL’s standards remained pretty much the same, ice cream-wise: Coffee Haagen Dazs, several homemade ice cream emporiums in Ocean Grove NJ, Brooklyn, and Georgetown DC, and random gelato stands in Italy. Then, this past weekend, LBL was thrown, tongue-first, into a completely new ice cream experience: liquid nitrogen-assisted ice cream.
She and a friend from New Jersey decided to check out the gelato place in Clarendon, the yuppie-infested restaurant/bar/shopping enclave in Arlington, VA. While walking toward gelato, they were stopped by a sign announcing Nicecream. Not one to pass up any opportunity to sample ice cream, LBL pulled her friend in. The store looked nothing like any ice cream place she had ever seen: No tubs of anything. No displays of anything. No ice cream-smeared, hairnet-wearing sales people. No container of little plastic spoons for tasting, placed next to a container of little plastic spoons for eating. Only a bare counter with about five giant stainless steel mixers on it.
Behind the counter were two people who looked like they should have been seated at a trendy coffee emporium, drinking some form of latte and texting their friends about the latest funny reddit posts. LBL, because she is nothing if not savvy about social interactions, asked, “Where’s the ice cream?” The male of the couple (Gilbert John Welsford, Chief Operating Officer, as his business card proclaims) explained that this ice cream was made on the spot, using cream from local dairies, organic fruits, and other ingredients like Nutella/nuts/chocolate. The basic ingredients were thrown into the mixer, along with liquid nitrogen. The mixer was turned on, Bella Lugosi-like dense vapor spilled out all over the mixer, and in a few seconds, the liquid nitrogen froze the cream. Ice cream was the result.
Luckily, there was Nutella ice cream, already made, waiting for LBL in one of the mixers. LBL asked for a taste and was presented with the same little plastic spoons she was used to (no biodegradable, free-range spoons in this place). LBL placed the sample in her mouth. The result was a gift from God, taste-wise. She ordered a small cup for $5.00 (equaling 13 pints of Crestmont). LBL now had to completely rearrange her culinary proclivities: She had found the Holy Grail of ice cream.
LBL was barely able to croak out “Do you have other locations?” Gilbert John Welsford (or, as LBL now affectionately refers to him as Mr Welsford), said that this was not only the only Nicecream location, it was the only ice cream of its kind on the east coast. He knew of one company in California, but that was it. LBL immediately rearranged her travel schedule for the foreseeable future. She would dearly miss seeing her grandchildren in Brooklyn and Seattle, but this was important.
LBL finished her ice cream at alarming speed. She does not want to know the calorie or fat content of what she consumed. She does not want to know if liquid nitrogen is harmful to her health (the website says it is completely safe). She does not want to know if Gilbert John Welsford and his partner wash their hands before making the ice cream. She just wants to eat it. A lot of it. All the time.