Posts Tagged With: Ice cream

Review: Tillamook Tillabars

Most of us have enjoyed an occasional Eskimo Pie over the years. What’s not to love about vanilla ice cream coated in chocolate and eaten off a stick? Since their invention in 1921 there have been plenty of imitators, some lousy and some great. Tillamook’s new line of Tillabars definitely falls into the latter category.

If you’re unfamiliar with Tillamook, then you have my pity. Technically known as Tillamook County Creamery Association, this dairy cooperative located on the Oregon coast began producing cheese in 1946. Over the years, their product line has expanded to include butter, sour cream, yogurt, and ice cream. Tillamook is a little pricier than some brands, but worth it; I refuse to buy any other brand of cheese, and usually opt for their other products, as well, for the simple fact that they taste better. So when Tillamook introduced a line of ice cream bars known as Tillabars a few months ago, I was eager to try them out.


Tillabars come in four different flavors: Old-Fashioned Vanilla, Mooocha Latte, Salted Caramel Swirl, and Lemonilla. We tried the Old-Fashioned Vanilla and Lemonilla flavors, and both were rich, creamy, and delicious. Once again, it’s the quality of the ingredients that sets Tillamook apart. Their vanilla ice cream is already decadent, so enrobing it in chocolate only increases the “mmm” factor. This is a pretty basic ice cream bar, but for those whose motto is “why mess with perfection,” it’s the perfect choice for a warm summer night. Or a cool spring morning. Whenever you’re in the mood for a sweet treat, as a matter of fact, clocks be damned! But Tillamook really nails it with the Lemonilla bar. It’s lemon sorbet surrounded by vanilla ice cream and coated in white chocolate. The first bite is sinfully sweet, but when you reach the tart lemon sorbet in the center, the flavors mingle and provide a perfect contrast. It’s sweet! It’s tart! It’s….heavenly.

In short, Tillamook has done it again. Score: 4 knives.

4 Knives


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347/365: National Ice Cream and Violins Day

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, today’s holiday is music to your ears. December 13 is National Ice Cream and Violins Day!

OK. Say what?! I am definitely left scratching my head over this one. We’ve celebrated some odd food holidays this year, but today’s takes the cake. The origin of this holiday is shrouded in mystery, so all we can do is take a stab at a wild guess. There is one possible explanation that at least can’t be completely ruled out. December 13 is widely known as National Violin Day. And on this date in 2010, rock violinist Ben Lee of FUSE broke the Guinness World Record for the Fastest Violin Player by playing more than 14 notes per second. Maybe he went out for ice cream to celebrate afterwards! Whatever the reason, today we pay homage to the sweet duo.

Only…exactly how are we supposed to do so? I have no musical talent whatsoever. I mean, I can play a kazoo if need be, and could probably get by on the tambourine, but a violin is a sophisticated musical instrument that takes years of practice to master. I’m pretty sure if I picked one up and started playing the result would be akin to nails on a chalkboard, not people settling down to enjoy ice cream.

So, we decided on a compromise: we would have a bowl of ice cream while listening to violins. It just so happens we’ve got some CDs by Jimmy be Free, a local violinist who usually hangs out at the Portland International Airport playing music for passersby. Weird gig, huh? He happened to play at a company event a few months ago and so impressed Tara, she bought some of his CDs. We dished up a couple of scoops, hit PLAY, and paid honor to both ice cream and violins.

You can view a video – music and all – of this event on Facebook. Just click on the link!

National Ice Cream & Violins Day

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315/365: National Sundae Day

Sundae, bloody sundae. Again. I know you’re supposed to scream for ice cream, but when you’re on your third go-round celebrating the same food holiday, you’re more likely to want to scream in frustration instead. November 11 is National Sundae Day…

It’s not that I don’t enjoy a good ice cream sundae. Of course I do. But I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there are so many other deserving foods that don’t have their own holiday yet, it seems unfair to simply regurgitate different variations of the same thing. Actually, I think I’m more irritated over the fact that I have nothing new to say, but feel like I’ve got a certain amount of white space to fill before I can hit “publish.” I watch that word count carefully, believe me! And since we’ve already done hot fudge sundaes and strawberry sundaes, well…

…same old dilemma.

Not to mention the fact that sundaes are much more enjoyable in the summer months. Not November. It’s like drinking hot chocolate in July. Who’d want to do that?

But I really shouldn’t complain. We’re entering the home stretch now. And really, I’m bellyaching because we have to eat an ice cream sundae?! Oh, woe is me. First world problems indeed. 🙂

So of course, we made sundaes. And we licked our spoons when we were finished.

National Sundae Day

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255/365: National Chocolate Milkshake Day

If you’re cuckoo for frozen cocoa, today is really going to tickle your fancy. September 12 is National Chocolate Milkshake Day!

National Chocolate Milkshake DayWe’ve already paid homage to the vanilla milkshake and coffee milkshake, so by now you should be familiar with the history of this frozen treat. If not, click on either of the links and immerse yourself in the world of Walgreen’s employee Ivar Coulson. One thing I did not mention previously: milkshakes got their name because they were originally served in bars. If the customer liked the milkshake, he shook hands with the bartender; if not, he skipped out without leaving a tip. Fun and random fact: it would take 3.2 million average-sized milkshakes to fill an Olympic-sized pool. How fun would that be to swim in? Feel like making your own chocolate milkshake? Here’s an easy and fun recipe from Hershey’s. The term “I drink your milkshake” became a pop culture catchphrase after the film There Will Be Blood was released in 2007.

There’s not a lot else to discuss today, so let’s get down to business. Tara and I stopped by McDonald’s for chocolate shakes. I’m partial to vanilla myself, but it’s hard to complain about a frosty cold shake on a warm summer afternoon!

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249/365: National Coffee Ice Cream Day

If you’ve bean craving a jolt of caffeine, today’s food holiday will make your ears perk up. September 6 is National Coffee Ice Cream Day!

National Coffee Ice Cream DayBy now you can probably recite the history of ice cream in your sleep. But I don’t think I’ve talked about coffee yet. Allegedly, an Ethiopian goat herder named Kaldi observed his flock of animals acting strangely after eating coffee plants sometime in the 9th century. Curious about their behavior, he plucked a few of the berries and tried them himself. Feeling more alert than usual afterwards, he flagged down a passing monk, and shared this story with him. The monk took some of the berries, crushed them into a powder, and mixed them with hot water. After drinking the brew, he too was more energetic and awake than normal, and before long his entire monastery was downing coffee in an attempt to stay awake longer during prayer time. It’s unknown whether this admittedly fantastic-sounding story is true, but it sure makes for a good yarn! The earliest credible evidence for coffee dates back to the 15th century, where monasteries in Yemen roasted and brewed coffee seeds in a similar manner to how it is enjoyed today. Which tells me one thing: the life of a monk must be awfully boring.

It’s unclear when somebody thought of combining coffee and ice cream, but the result is delicious. To celebrate, we bought a small carton of Ben & Jerry’s Coffee Heath Bar Crunch. Yum!

Categories: Dairy | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

233/365: National Spumoni Day

If you like your ice cream to contain multiple flavors, as well as candied fruits and nuts, you’re in for a real treat today. August 21 is National Spumoni Day!

Some calendars list National Spumoni Day on August 22, which is when I originally had it planned. But there was enough doubt that I turned to both Wikipedia and our East Coast consultant, John, for confirmation. They both agreed it was August 21. Thanks for the help, John and inanimate website!

Spumoni is an Italian ice cream made with layers of colors and flavors – usually cherry, pistachio, and chocolate, but sometimes containing vanilla in place of one of the other flavors. There’s also a layer of candied fruits and nuts separating each flavor. Bits of cherry are common. I was hoping…nay, expecting…an interesting background story on the invention of spumoni, how the colors represent a famous Italian battle or something else of historical significance, but was disappointed to learn nobody really knows who or how spumoni came to be. Apparently it just appeared out of thin air one day. It is rumored to have originated in Naples, and is thought to be the precursor to Neapolitan (chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry). It is no longer very popular in Italy, but can be found more readily here in the U.S. of A.

I’ve never been a fan of spumoni, to be honest. I’m very familiar with it though, as it’s a signature dessert of The Old Spaghetti Factory, a restaurant my family dined at often over the years. To be fair, the spumoni they used to serve contained large chunks of candied fruit that turned my stomach; nowadays, they’ve scaled way back on that stuff and simply give you three flavors of ice cream: chocolate, pistachio, and cherry (the most popular combination).

Obviously, we went to The Spaghetti Factory for lunch. If not for them, I have no idea where we would have gotten spumoni ice cream. And honestly, it was better than I expected.

National Spumoni Day

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230/365: National Soft Ice Cream Day

Today’s food holiday might just make you melt. August 18 is National Soft Ice Cream Day!

Like many of the food holidays we’ve celebrated, soft serve ice cream was an accidental invention. During Memorial Day weekend in 1934, ice cream truck driver Tom Carvel suffered a flat tire in Hartsdale, New York. In an effort to avoid wasting his precious cargo, he pulled into the parking lot of a pottery store and sold his melting ice cream to passersby. Business was brisk, and within two days he had sold his entire supply. Carvel reasoned that selling soft ice cream from a permanent location could be a lucrative business, and two years later opened his first store – in the same spot where his truck broke down.

Enjoyed this on the road!

Enjoyed this on the road!

Soft serve ice cream contains less milk fat than regular ice cream, and is stored at a slightly warmer temperature (duh). Air is introduced at the time of freezing, and can comprise up to 60% of the finished product’s volume. The higher the air content the creamier, lighter, and smoother the ice cream. Ideally, it should range between 33%-45% of the finished product. Frozen custard is similar, but contains eggs in addition to cream and sugar, and has less air.

Since we were on the road returning from our impromptu trip to Ely, we stopped at a McDonald’s in Hood River and shared a vanilla soft serve ice cream cone. It hit the spot after 12 hours in the car!

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214/365: National Ice Cream Sandwich Day

A sandwich with no bread, meat, cheese, or condiments?! Sounds like sacrilege, until you remember the summertime treat that is the centerpiece of today’s food holiday. August 2 is National Ice Cream Sandwich Day!

Ice cream sandwiches were first created when advances in freezer technology enabled ice cream to last longer than thirty minutes without melting into a sweet, sticky puddle – sometime in the 18th century. Victorian-era chefs began layering ice cream in between slices of cake and freezing their confection. Ice cream sandwiches and other “novelties” became popular in the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries, when they were a cheap way to beat the heat. According to the Encyclopedia of American Food & Drink, “Ice cream sandwich (slabs of ice cream sandwiched between cakelike cookies)…began appearing in the late 1890s on New York street vendors’ carts. In San Francisco the It’s It ice-cream bar was a similar item made with oatmeal cookie layers.” In 1926, a patent was issued for the Anderson ice cream making machine, no doubt saving countless hours that would otherwise be spent assembling the desserts by hand. Blue Earth, Minnesota claims to be “the birthplace of the ice cream sandwich,” but provides no facts to back up their claim. Sounds like a desperate grab for attention to me.

I love ice cream sandwiches, so this was an easy holiday to celebrate!

National Ice Cream SandwichDay

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207/365: National Coffee Milkshake Day

Today we’re going to shake things up a bit. And no, that’s not the caffeine talking. July 26 is National Coffee Milkshake Day!

National Coffee Milkshake DayThe deeper into our food challenge we get, the fewer new topics there are to write about. Today is no exception. I’ve already  discussed the history of the milkshake. Take one of those, add coffee, and you’ve got a coffee milkshake. Right? Pretty much! Some variations, particularly in New England, call for coffee syrup. Others call for chocolate syrup. At its most basic, a coffee milkshake consists of vanilla ice cream and coffee, blended together. Hey, speaking of, that’s something I can talk about: the history of the blender! This kitchen appliance was the creation of Stephen J. Poplawski, who owned Stevens Electric Company. In 1922, he patented his drink mixer, which had been invented to help mix together malted milkshakes and other frozen treats. In the 1930s, L. Hamilton, Chester Beach, and Fred Osius began selling Poplawski’s blender through their business, the Hamilton Beach Company. Former musician Fred Waring came up with his own version of the blender (he spelled it blendor) in 1937, and his Waring Products company went on to popularize the smoothie in the 1940s. In 1946 Fred Oster, who owned the Oster Barber Equipment Compnay, bought Stevens Electric Company and designed a new version of the blender, called the Osterizer. Blenders have remained a popular kitchen implement thanks to the need for cocktails, Frappucinos, smoothies, and other frozen drinks.

There you go! That was something interesting and different.

When I think of coffee milkshakes, my mind automatically goes to Arby’s, whose signature beverage is a coffee and chocolate milkshake called the Jamocha Shake. So that’s where we went physically. To Arby’s, where we shared a Jamocha Shake. It perfectly hit the spot.

Categories: Dairy, Desserts | Tags: , , , , , , | 5 Comments

206/365: National Hot Fudge Sundae Day

It feels like “a month of Sundaes” lately with all our ice cream holidays. We’ve also celebrated fudge three times now. So, it’s kind of fitting that July 25 is National Hot Fudge Sundae Day!

We’ve already talked about the history of the sundae. While there is some debate over who invented that particular ice cream dish, there is no dispute over today’s flavor. Los Angeles candy maker Clarence Clifton Brown opened an eatery named C.C. Brown’s in 1906, where he would serve ice cream with a little flask of molten chocolate customers could pour over the top. According to legend, Brown was constantly tweaking the recipe, changing the formula every day for 20 years until he had the perfect flavor and consistency. In 1929 he moved the business to Hollywood, right down the street from Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and it became a celebrity hotspot. With turn-of-the-century retro decor and homemade ingredients, the hot fudge sundaes become popular with stars like  Mary Pickford, Bob Hope, and Joan Crawford. Marlon Brando was so enamored of the sundaes that he would go inside, place an order, and take his sundae back to the limo to eat in order to avoid the prying eyes of tourists, while his family stayed inside the restaurant and ate theirs. The business closed down in 1996 but the name lives on – as does the hot fudge sauce, which can be purchased through the Lawry’s website.

To celebrate, my mom made us hot fudge sundaes. We had a mini family reunion of sorts, with my brother up for a visit from California (first time in 3 years), along with my aunt, uncle, grandmother, and parents. I’d much rather talk about my mom’s wonderful stuffed cabbage rolls, but alas, there is no National Stuffed Cabbage Day. What a shame, too. They are good. As were the sundaes. It’s hard to go wrong with vanilla ice cream, hot fudge, whipped cream, and – of course – a maraschino cherry on top. She apologized for the lack of nuts, but honestly, who needed them? We were already around family. 🙂

National Hot Fudge Sundae

Categories: Dairy, Desserts | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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