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dessert 8.22.10: ice cream social.

Posted Aug 24 2010 9:00am



blackberry gingersnap mini ice cream cone, followed by mini scoops of 99% dark chocolate, duck egg, beet, bourbon-vanilla-sea-salt-caramel, and sweet corn.

When I was a little kid, age in the single digits, I loved dolls. It started with those squeezable characters in the cabbage patch , and it moved to the palm-sized girls of the Wish World .  Eventually, I made my way to the real deal, the doll on the dream list of every female child born in the eighties: an American Girl .

Back when there were just five versions of these expensive toys, I begged for Samantha, “the Victorian beauty.”  Straight A’s for an entire second grade school year finally brought her home to my arms, and immediately, I fell in love.

I played with Samantha every day.  I saved every penny of my allowance for her clothes.  Every birthday, every Chanukkah, I asked for an accessory: her bed, her nightstand, her schoolbooks.  I had outfits that could take her from a 1915 sailboat to a 1995 ice rink.  I changed her shoes; I brushed her hair; I gave her imaginary friends.

I loved that doll so much that I eventually had to mail her to the Pleasant Company Doll Hospital when her head fell off.  [Yes, really.  She came home in a hospital gown with an admittance bracelet and "get well soon" balloon.]

During the long doll phase, my eyes were trained to scope out and spot miniature accoutrements of all kinds.  Though I kept a tidy list of items I liked from the American Girl catalogue, I didn’t discriminate against other appropriately-sized accessories without the logo attached.  Samantha got vintage toothpaste and band-aids from my mom’s childhood drugstore set; she had a little car courtesy of my grandfather’s toy trucks.

As I outgrew hours of pretending, Samantha moved to a neat box under my twin bed.  Yet from preteen to twentysomething, the affinity for the doll-sized has remained.  Perhaps it’s one way in which I refuse to ever grow up: I believe I’d be as happy now as I would have been then to browse the Fifth Avenue American Girl shop.

And perhaps that’s why I found myself drawn to a new event this past Sunday, a dessert interruption on an errand-filled afternoon that took me right back to those days of the dolls.  The distraction: an ice cream tasting at the New Amsterdam Market , a new find I am thrilled to have discovered.  Of the many vendors offering samples that day – wine tasting, hard cider tasting, cheese tasting, bread tasting – the ice cream mattered the most.

Like a trip back to childhood, my companions and I were treated to six tiny scoops in six tiny cones.  The late August humidity melted the cream fast, and so we found ourselves gripping cones fit for my Samantha, artisan ice cream  dripping down our adult hands and tongues licking up every last bit.  [Napkins were nowhere to be found.]

We ate our ice cream with the zeal my childhood self would have – it is one of the few foods I have loved since those doll-playing days.  And yet, the event was decidedly for adults – after all, as an adolescent, my nose turned up even at vanilla [I ate only one flavor: chocolate, plain and simple].  Here, vanilla would have been out of place, as we were treated to vegetable flavors like beet and sweet corn, spice infusions like sea salt and pepper, and pure craziness like hay and duck egg [I tried both, obviously].

I often get caught up in my adult life: the wine, the late nights, the fancy food, the independence.  But after the most grown-up of evenings – playing the role of maid of honor, making a champagne toast on my friend’s wedding day – an hour of sticky fingers and childhood dessert was just the balance I needed.  Too bad my dolls never got mini cones of their own.

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