No matter how urbane your lifestyle, chances are you have a fond, rustic childhood memory of a family ice-cream outing, or of the tell-tale jingle of the ice-cream truck as it drove down your block. In the small rural town I grew up in, we’d drive 20 minutes to a tiny shop called Snyder’s, where we ate our homemade ice cream atop sugar cones at a picnic table in the still-heavy evening humidity. There were three flavors—chocolate, strawberry, vanilla—and a fourth only in summer: peach, my favorite. I loved alternating between licking the smooth ice cream and biting into the sweet chunks of fruit. Ice cream in the summer just feels primal; when I watch my 5-year-old daughter blissfully licking her scoop, chocolate ringed around her mouth, I can barely wipe the smile off my own sticky face.
July is National Ice Cream Month, and just off the first summer heat wave, Seattleites are lining up (despite long waits in the evenings) at local scoop shops. There are plenty of places to indulge with new, summer-friendly flavors—and deals to boot.
At Molly Moon’s, seasonal favorites like cherry chunk are back; lemon dill sorbet highlights flavor pairings; and cucumber sorbet arrived just this week. Fainting Goat Gelato (yes, it counts as ice cream) debuted mango habanero this month, as well as Key lime pie. Proprietors are also excited about their spring-and-summer-only goat’s-milk gelato flavored with mastic, a Mediterranean relative of the pistachio. And at Cupcake Royale, you can get two scoops for $2 throughout July.
You don’t have to stand in line to get your fix: Now even trendy restaurants are obliging our ice-cream cravings with offerings both simple and sublime. Check out these six:
Delancey in Ballard: blondie with roasted-banana ice cream, roasted peanuts, and Admiral Tea black salt. (Next week, we’ve been told, they’ll be offering one of two floats: blueberry ice cream with ginger beer or buttermilk ice cream with homemade cherry soda.)
Tilth in Wallingford: cherry frozen yogurt with Graham cracker, compressed cherry, and cacao nibs.
Serious Pie & Biscuit in South Lake Union: root-beer float.
Luc in Madison Valley: Bing-cherry crumble with kirsch ice cream, or their staple vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.
Joule in Wallingford: rhubarb-ginger tart with grains-of-paradise ice cream (grains of paradise is a West African peppery spice with flavors of cinnamon and cardamom).
Bastille in Ballard: pistachio-brittle ice-cream-filled pastry with warm chocolate sauce.
Seattleites are also, of course, particularly lucky when it comes to handcrafted, Washington-made microcreamery options at local groceries and farmers markets—Blue Bird, Whidbey Island, and Half Pint to name just a few—in summer-inflected flavors that are anything but vanilla, including blackberry lavender and marionberry.
Alternately, invite friends over for a make-your-own-sundae party. Time-honored staples like bananas, peanuts, and chocolate sauce are crowd-pleasers, but if you’re looking to elevate the traditional and impress your guests, try some of these toppings:
Hazelnuts from Whatcom County Holmquist Hazelnut Orchards are available in local farmers markets now.
Diced dried fruits, like apricots and donut peaches, are available at local farmers markets now.
Chopped cookies, like snickerdoodles from Cow Chip Cookies.
Minced fresh herbs like mint and lemon verbena.
Orange or lemon zest; if you don’t have a zester, use the fine side of a Parmesan cheese grinder.
Crystallized ginger, available at specialty markets like Penzey’s Spices, 117 Pine St. (near Pike Place Market).
Fresh, seasonal fruit toppings are great, but poached fruits pair nicely with ice cream too. Before cherry season winds down, poach some Bing, Rainier, or Summit varieties.