click to enlarge
There are a few things in the world that most folks can't bring themselves to complain about, even when it's bad. Sex, for instance. Chocolate cake. Christmas morning. The Three Stooges.
Admit it: Even when it's dry and sort of bitter, chocolate cake is pretty darn good, isn't it? Even when they were old and decrepit - even with Curly Joe - isn't the worst Three Stooges episode around a million times better than, say, the best episode ever of "The Dukes of Hazzard"? The prosecution rests.
We do, however, have a beef with one thing most people might herd into this list of sacred cows: ice cream. Don't get us wrong; even the worst ice cream is MY-T-TASTE-TEE to us. You run into a problem, though, when you start adding all that stuff that makes ice cream even better: nuts, hot fudge, caramel, little bits of Reese's cup.
In a normal sundae, all the stuff is ladled on top. And what happens? We'll tell you what happens: You eat the good stuff first, sort of excavating all the goodies out from around the edges of the cup. In the end, you're left with a melting wad of plain old ice cream and no more goodie.
No. More. Goodie.
Therein lies the genius of Cold Stone Creamery, a Scottsdale, Ariz.-based company that recently opened Little Rock's first franchise, on the western edge of town. Starting with 11 flavors of ice cream (no wimpy yogurt here, pal, though it has the ubiquitous no-fat/no-sugar-added offering), Cold Stone adds all the goodies you can imagine, from little bits of cookie to apple pie filling to roasted almonds. Then - and this is the genius part - they slap it on a chilled stone, and with these two aluminum do-dads that look like robotic penguin flippers, they smoosh it all together. Problem solved. The goodies and the ice cream are now one, joined forever in diet-shattering matrimony.
With a seemingly limitless variety of toppings and those 11 flavors, Cold Stone can whip you up just about anything your heart desires. For the Type-B's of the world, however, they helpfully provide a 35-item menu of tried-and-trues, each grouped by flavor of ice cream. We tried, for instance, the "Founder's Favorite" - one of six selections from the Sweet Cream ice cream family - which is Sweet Cream, brownies, caramel, fudge and pecans. Companion, meanwhile, tried the "Cookie Doughn't You Want Some" - French vanilla ice cream, cookie dough, chocolate chips, fudge and caramel.
The verdict: Both were smooth, creamy and eye-crossingly tasty, with hunks of the good stuff in every bite of ice cream.
Bring your wallet, however. It's good, but as the old timers say, they're proud of it. A medium cup (known as "Love It" in Cold Stone-speak) is $4.39, while a large ("Gotta Have It") is $4.79. They also have waffle cones and edible waffle bowls.
In closing, a word to the wise: Don't let your eyes get bigger than your stomach. The "Gotta Have It" is an obscene amount of ice cream - handily bigger than a regulation softball and richer than the ghost of Sam Walton. About halfway through our large "Founder's Favorite," we understood what Mama always said about ruining our appetite. We never wanted to eat anything again. Ever.
Our advice: Get the small, two spoons, and a friend. And be patient; the lines here have been long since the day it opened.
Cold Stone Creamery
12800 Chenal Parkway, Suite 8
For those who like their cake with a little ice cream, Coldstone offers a large variety of ice-cream cakes starting at around $12. For the weight-watchers, they have a Sinless Sweet Cream, with no fat and no sugar added, and figuring out at 41 carbs.
11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Moderate prices. All credit cards accepted. No checks.