- By Wendell Brock For the AJC
Don’t tell anyone I said this, but I believe ice cream is an appetite suppressant.
Mind you, I have zero scientific evidence to support this. But I believe a really good frozen treat made from top-quality ingredients can center you body and soul, erase your cares and make you less hungry.
I don’t suggest you binge-lick or scoopa-dive your way through a half-gallon of whatever’s on sale just ‘cause you’re feeling blue. (Been there, done that.)
Choose wisely, contemplate what you are eating and how it makes you feel, and you’ll walk away cooler, perkier and less likely to wolf down your next meal. This I know from experience.
In the course of researching this article, I visited a dozen ice cream, gelato, yogurt, custard and shave-ice places. I had homey bowls of old-fashioned vanilla custard and trendy rolled ice cream with Fruity Pebbles and crunchy sprinkles.
Some days, I consumed too much. I had incredible highs, terrible lows. Other days, like the afternoon I tasted Morelli’s Marzipan Cherry Almond or Queen of Cream’s Lavender Honeycomb, I felt alive and new-minted.
I felt woke.
Should you want to test my theory, you have plenty of choices. Atlanta is rich in frozen treats, from the ridiculous to the sublime, from the all-natural to the flagrantly chemical, from the kid-friendly to the alcohol doused.
If you crave shave ice topped with squishy boba (tapioca bubbles), I won’t judge. I like that stuff, too. I just no longer have the body of a 10-year-old.
With all this in mind, I offer this list of frozen-treat destinations, from old faves to new flaves.
McCoughtry’s Ice Cream
You may have trouble parking in front of this Castleberry Hill newcomer from Angel McCoughtry, who plays basketball for the Atlanta Dream. Just steps away from Kandi Burruss’ Old Lady Gang, McCoughtry’s is a sunny, turquoise-colored room with a growth chart painted on one wall: It depicts the Olympic gold medalist scaling the tippy top, standing 6 feet 1 and holding a cone. (This is what I’m talking about, people! Ice cream makes you strong!)
Salt Bae is a rich concoction of caramel ice cream, caramel ribbons and chocolate pieces. Oh, Snap! is loaded with ginger snaps and vanilla wafers and sweetened with 1893 Pepsi. I liked these originals, but the gold goes to the super-creamy, old-fashioned strawberry and the delightful Birthday Bash, which tastes like funfetti cake. Together they’re a perfect pair.
185 Peters St. SW, Atlanta. 404-857-4538, mccoughtrysicecream.com.
Queen of Cream
Like many Atlanta makers, Cora Cotrim started small, with an ice cream cart. A year later, in 2015, she opened a shop on North Highland Avenue. Doubling as a coffee bar, Queen of Cream makes some of the best locally produced ice cream. Two of Cotrim’s impeccably structured flavors proved to be a transformative experience: Lavender Honeycomb, in which a crunchy, brittlelike “honeycomb” is folded into a luscious lavender cream, and Peach with Amaretti Cookies, made with Georgia fruit. Though Cotrim is hardly alone in her use of local produce, her palate is wholly original. (Think: cantaloupe and lemon verbena sorbet, cornbread-and-blueberry ice cream.) All hail the queen.
701 N. Highland Ave. NE, No. 1., Atlanta. 404-331-0807, queenofcream.com.
Roll It Up
If I were 15, dyed the tips of my hair red and rode a skateboard, you’d catch me chilling at this 7-month-old Buford Highway shop. As it is, I’m still pretty smitten with the theatrical spectacle that happens when these cool kids whip up their liquid nitrogen ice cream: Smoke billows. KitchenAid mixers whir. Magic happens. You can create your own combo or choose one of the 22 house specials: everything from Funky Monkey (banana and Nutella) to Purple Rain (taro). Almost every flavor may be ordered “roll-it-up” style, meaning it’s poured onto a 13-degree Fahrenheit surface, mixed, flattened, and rolled into tiny cigars. It’s solid, but we loved the liquid nitrogen-blasted Coffee Break.
5150 Buford Highway NE, Doraville. 470-545-0357, rollitupicecream.com.
Gelato, by nature, is supposed to be denser and richer than American ice cream. But I find the flavors at this Atlanta shop to be delicate and haunting, like honeysuckle. The ethereal Honey Lavender will send you floating into the clouds; Fresh Mint is a great way to lift your spirits and press your reset button.
Ponce City Market, 675 Ponce de Leon Ave., Atlanta. 404-228-7825, honeysucklegelato.com.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams
At Atlanta restaurateur Ford Fry’s Attack of the Killer Tomato Festival this year, Jeni’s founder Jeni Britton Bauer paired her Peach Lassi Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt with Little Tart Bakeshop chef Sarah O’Brien’s green tomato-blackberry-pecan crisp. Dayum, it was good. Alas, Bauer was a judge at the event, so this killer collaboration didn’t qualify for competition. (Full disclosure: I was also a judge.) Now you can stop by Jeni’s and taste for yourself. While there, try the i-cone-ic Brambleberry Crisp or the new Goat Cheese with Red Cherries, both splendid, indeed.
Traditional shave ice is made from flavored water. This Marietta shop serves Korean-style frozen “snow” that incorporates milk into the mix. Shaved and presented on a plate, the piles of purple taro or orange Thai tea snow look like something from a magical, candy-colored Arctic landscape. Paired with popping boba, mini mochi and fresh fruit, it’s a memorable, gone-in-a-minute taste sensation unlike anything else in town.
2100 Roswell Road, No. 2160, Marietta. 470-263-8170, snowvilleshavery.com.
Sublime Doughnuts, Briarcliff location
It’s 3 a.m. You just left the club. God, you could use a doughnut. But what if you could top that warm fried confection with a scoop of salted-caramel ice cream? What if you could nurse your buzz with a taste of Strawberry Rosé or Peach Riesling? Yes, this popular doughnut shop offers alcohol-laden ice cream, 24-7. I might pass on the Peach Riesling, but the Strawberry Rosé is good in a frosé kind of way. Even better is the new strawberry cheesecake flavor. Imagine it melting over a hot, strawberries-and-cream doughnut.
2566 Briarcliff Road N.E., Atlanta. 404-315-6899, sublimedoughnuts.com.
Butter & Cream
Just when I was ready to anoint Queen of Cream the finest cone in town, I stopped by this Decatur mainstay for a refresher. Every flavor I tried blew me away. Of all the ice cream I tasted for this story, the Cashew Creme Brûlée is my No. 1 pick. Cherry Pie is wonderfully homespun, while the intensely fudgy Dark Chocolate Malbec is heady and luxurious. Butter & Cream opened a second location, in Roswell, on Aug. 2.
416 Church St., Decatur. 404-378-7272. 26 Webb St., Suite 1, Roswell. 770-998-7551, butterandcream.com.