Thursday, August 11, 2005

Just Desserts 14: Annapolis Ice Cream Company (Annapolis, Maryland)

RESTAURANT: Annapolis Ice Cream Company
LOCATION:196 Main Street, Annapolis, Maryland
DATE: August 2, 2005
DESSERT: Sundae with a scoop of Raspberry Chocolate and a scoop of Chocolate Chip Vanilla, topped with Heath Bar pieces, Slivered Almonds, and Whipped Cream; Cone with one scoop of Blackberry Cobbler ice cream.
PRICE: $5.50

There were no barbershop quartets. No nickel shoe shines or candy stripers either. A sign even advertised flavors including cake batter and green tea. Unless Bazz Larhman was directing a remake of American Graffiti, there really wasn’t any reason to think that Annapolis Ice Cream Company was in anyway hinting at some great Americana nostalgia. Yet, unmistakably, it was.

Take, for instance, the linoleum floors. One part Norman Rockwell, one part America that never was (though the two are truly one and the same), the floors hinted at that clean simplicity with which Americans like to view their past. Or, if further examples are needed, take the dreamy-eyed teenagers who scooped and smiled with the naïve air of unlimited expectations. Had they never heard of irony, did they not realize the cruel reality of the world?

But it wasn’t one thing specifically that evoked the America of the G.I. Bill, economic optimism, and entrenched segregation; it was the cumulative effect that made the atmosphere of Annapolis Ice Cream Factory so anachronistic. Almost as if the place had Rip Van Winkled its way through the last half-century, awakening in a time when every dunk of an Oreo brought with it hearty amounts of trans fat, a time when ice cream shops needed to set out disclaimers stating that in the interests of health, ice cream was best enjoyed in moderation.

Such a sign does in fact hang in Annapolis Ice Cream Company, yet another eclectic leveling of time and place to satisfy even the most demanding post-modern stomach. However, even with the double-codings and the shadow of Frederic Jameson hanging over the freezers like an academic Frankenstein, the actual product the store churns out is less Pynchon and more Potter, as in Harry, being one of life’s simple, but seemingly inexhaustible pleasures.

Though the flavors were more mundane than the concoctions of Chinatown Ice Cream Factory or the gelato of Otto (oh sweet Olive Oil, how I miss thee), Annapolis Ice Cream Company did very well with dessert ubiquities. The raspberry chocolate was more fruit than cocoa, possessing a tartness more reminiscent of a chocolate raspberry martini than dairy decadence. The chocolate came in such minute pieces, like those used in a good mint chocolate chip ice cream, that no one aspect overwhelmed any other, and a sturdy cohesion greeted the tongue. The same was the case with chocolate chip vanilla, with just enough pizzazz to break up the monotony of normal vanilla ice cream. In sundae form, complete with heath bar pieces and almond slivers, a mighty combination emerged.

Yet, the show stopper was the blackberry cobbler scoop. Akin to Ted Drewes’ use of whole pieces of pie in concretes, Annapolis Ice Cream Company had true, buttery crumb pieces of cobbler incorporated into the berry infused ice cream. Perhaps blackberries are an evolutionary accident, on par with dinosaurs and Jamie Lee Curtis, but they’re certainly the most delicious berry of them all. And when used as Annapolis Ice Cream Company used them, in minced, rough chopped form, they add a texture, style and taste to dessert nothing else can.

Maybe Annapolis Ice Cream Company just cares about the ice cream. Maybe they’ve paid less attention to their furnishings than their desserts. Maybe, just maybe, the old-timey feel is unintentional. Maybe it doesn’t even have a feel at all.


Maybe not. But regardless, whether Annapolis Ice Cream Company is attempting to incite in its patrons a love of yore or just a love of ice cream, what it achieves most definitively is an ice cream that is much less mundane and much less misconstrued than anything it linoleum tiles might suggest.

RATING: 7.7/10

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