Thursday, May 27, 2010

Make Your Own Ice Cream at iCream Café

This is my last post recapping my recent long weekend in Chicago where I watched my nephew graduate from college, saw the enlightening Matisse exhibit at the Art Institute, ate some amazing cupcakes, and got shit-faced from whisky. What better way to end it than with designer ice cream?

After our family dinner at Mado in the hip Wicker Park neighborhood, we all walked over to iCream café, which was featured on The Food Network because of its gimmick of creating each and every customer’s ice cream choice on the spot. They can do this with several mixing stands and loads of liquid nitrogen. It all makes for a good after-dinner show, too.

When iCream says you design your ice cream, they’re not kidding. You choose everything for texture to flavor to toppings to — yes — even color. All of this, as you can imagine, can be overwhelming. Luckily the kind folks at iCream have posted some of their favorite creations for inspiration.

But it’s more than just ice cream. You can make your own frozen yogurt or soy ice cream or sorbet. After you place your order, the workers at the mixing stand starts to conjure up your creation, and it all looks scientific as they add the liquid nitrogen to create the “rapid freezing process.” It looks like some science project gone mad or an overworked fog machine on the set of “Dancing With the Stars.”

Since they don’t start making your ice cream until you order, it can be about five to eight minutes before you get your order (and sometimes longer on the weekends when the crowd gets big). I ended up creating an ice cream with green tea and pomegranate flavors with added graham crackers for texture. I forgot to choose a color (I saw one girl leave with Smurf blue ice cream) so mine just turned out green like the green tea.

The ice cream tasted more like pomegranate — on the sweeter side than green tea — and I didn’t mind the crunch from the graham crackers. But the overall texture of the ice cream was less creamy and more watery. Still, it held up together and that says a lot since it started off just a few minutes ago all wet.

I wouldn’t say iCream’s products have the luscious quality of some home-made ice cream I’ve tried, but that’s not really the point. iCream is about individualism and show, and sometimes food can be entertaining and fun.

iCream Café, 1537 N. Milwaukee Ave., Chicago. PH: 773.342.2834. Open daily.

More travel sweets:
Helado Brain Freeze


Jenster said...

Wow, that seems like a lot of work for one container of ice cream! Still a pretty cool concept, though.

foodhoe said...

I just know I'd choke and order badly... but I like the mad scientist in the laboratory feel. I think I'd rather not have ground up crackers in my ice cream too.

Alex said...

What began long ago as a simple iced concoction has now developed into one of the world's most popular types of dessert: ice cream. Whether it's the fanciest flavors from the local ice cream shops or the homemade ice cream recipes from grandma's kitchen, it seems like everyone has a favorite ice cream flavor of some sort. There are a lot of things to like about ice cream, including its soft and creamy texture and its uncanny ability to cool down a sizzling summer day.

Carolyn Jung said...

I remember this place. It was on that Chris Cosentino Food Network show. The premise is very fun. But wow, hard to beat the texture of Bi-Rite in our own Bay Area backyard, isn't it? ;)