Each season is often defined by the activities available to keep yourself entertained, especially during the long summer months. When one thinks summer, words like pool, camp, and ice cream come to mind. Imagine, however, you've just recently moved to New Orleans. It's summer. It's hot. And your neighborhood Dairy Queen is no longer down the street. Maybe you're feeling foolish and vulnerable. There may not be a DQ, but there must be a Baskin Robbins around, right? What are these "SnowBalls"? Wait. Cheesecake is inside the ball of snow?? Maybe you've given up, and you've simply decided it's time to cut ice cream out of your diet this summer.
Stop. You don't have to do that.
First and foremost, you're not alone. Ice Cream Panic (ICP) is not selectively isolating. Secondly, there's a cure, and it starts by reading this: a list that encompasses the best frozen cream south of the Mississippi.
First on this list is a staple that native NOLA children scream for from the rooftops after summer camp lets out. But to be fair, adult friends of mine also cry for Creole Creamery (4924 Prytania St., creolecremery.com) on the hottest of summer days. Their name isn't just for show either. With over 80 housemade flavors (ranging from classic Vanilla to original Strawberry Jalapeno Cheesecake), you'll be contemplating whether a fourth sample will have you kicked out of line. Luckily for the "taste hogs," they offer an Ice Cream Sampler ($5 for 4 scoops, $7 for 6 scoops) to try out all their creamy concoctions. If those little scoops happen to not satisfy your ICP, go big with the Tchoupitoulas Challenge: 8 scoops of ice cream and 8 toppings, finished off with whipped cream, sprinkles, wafers and cherries. Choose your flavors wisely: Your name could end up on the wall of fame. You can't make assumptions when it comes to a person's flavor preference, but all I can say is that anything cookie-themed is a good idea.
Say you're fully enveloped by the new experience. Out with the old and in with the new. It's time to try coffee drip ice cream. Not only does it sound compelling, but it also looks incredible. At Drip Affogato Bar (703 Carondelet St., dripaffogatobar.com), the dessert dishes are designed similarly to great works of art. The concept lies in the art of coffee drip in conjunction with a variety of decadent artisanal ice cream flavors. See their Vietnamese Coffee (stracciatella ice cream, drizzled in condensed milk and chicory flakes and topped off with stroopwafel cookie and a side of chicory drip) or their take on New Orleans' Classic Bananas Foster (fresh banana ice cream, drizzled in caramel and topped with bruleed bananas, whip cream, and a side of espresso drip) for all your artisanal Warehouse District aesthetics.
Angelo Brocato (214 N. Carrollton Ave., angelobrocatoicecream.com) has been owned by the Brocato family in New Orleans since 1905. They know ice cream. People of NOLA have frequented the joint for frozen treats for generations, and traditional flavors like Fiore di Latte and Stracciatella have remained close to the same to keep 'em all coming back. It's a must-visit for traditional ice cream lovers and family-loving-families looking to cool down this summer with a cannoli on the side. Rather contrastingly, another Italian-inspired hotspot for cold treats, Piccola Gelateria (4525 Freret St., piccolagelateria.com), was established in New Orleans in 2016 by Chef Ross and his wife Ria Turnbull. Ross has traveled across Europe perfecting his art, but, thankfully for us, he and his wife chose New Orleans to open the perfect Italian gelato shop, serving 18 different flavors of traditional gelato (like their Amarena Cherry or Pistachio) and sorbets in their "living room."
Onto the snowball, or an explanation, rather. New Orleans seems to be fascinated with the concept of perfectly shaved ice. Whether it's the heat or simply a trend that's gone unchallenged, snowballs maintain popularity with New Orleans natives and tourists throughout the summer. A classic spot is located on Plum Street (1300 Burdette St., plumstreetsnowball.com), conveniently dubbed "Plum Street Snowballs" and offering classic flavors, such as Ice Cream and Wedding Cake, in a Chinese take-out pail. Another local favorite is Hansen's Sno-Bliz (4801 Tchoupitoulas St., snobliz.com), who have been serving homemade flavored syrups since 1939—and who just so happen to be serving their hit Bananas Foster Snowball until the end of July. Though the menu flavors don't vary too much, the shaving tactics, consistency, and ice products are vastly differing factors between stands.