Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Most Magical Ice Cream Place

So there's this ice cream place called Sub Zero. It's a small chain with a few locations in and around Utah, relatively new. I'm sure that I and everyone else on this planet are currently fascinated with all the new frozen yogurt shops popping up, but this place is almost cooler, and I'll tell you why. Instead of manually dishing out your own flavors into a bowl and smothering them with numerous toppings that almost never seem to go together (there are so many choices, you have to get some of everything!), Sub Zero gives you the choice of one or two flavors with one mix-in, and get this - they make your ice cream from scratch, right in front of you!

To elaborate on this, it starts out as liquid cream - you pick the kind you want, based on its thickness and fat content (premium being 14%, then custard, low-fat, and even nonfat). Then you choose your flavors, from a looong list with names you probably can't find anywhere else - Huckleberry, Tiger's Blood, Brownie Batter, and so many more. Specify your mix-in (again, a long list, although not as diverse as the toppings at some frogurt places), and watch as they put everything in a metal bowl and then spray LIQUID NITROGEN on it. They shake it up and stir with a spoon while it freezes in a matter of seconds, in a totally safe way that looks like a magic trick. And it almost is! Obviously this new innovation was created by some very smart engineers who creatively put chemistry to good use by making delicious treats with it.

An eerie space-like fog quickly emerges from the machine, spilling out underneath the glass barrier so you can run your hands through it. Then it disappears just as fast, and voila - suddenly that stuff in the bowl has turned into ice cream, and it's ready for you to eat! Just the process alone is reason enough to visit and give this place a try. If you end up with a combination you don't like, it's your own fault, and don't be upset with the establishment. Keep trying and you'll find one you like. The first time I went (a while ago), I think I got mango custard with chocolate pieces mixed in. It was good, but would've been better in a different cream. The next time I went was this past Friday, where I tried Cheesecake Batter (custard) with kit kat pieces mixed in. I actually didn't expect it to turn out well, but I was pleasantly surprised. And then when I raved about it and made my little brother jealous, he convinced our mom into taking us there the very next day, when I tried low-fat Fudge with snickers pieces.

Here's the key - fruity flavors are good with the low-fat creams, but anything chocolate or creamy in nature needs to be made with a thicker cream. The most unexpected delight was the brother's mix of Mountain Dew, Watermelon, and gummy bears, in premium cream. I honestly thought it was going to be disgusting, but boy was I wrong. And I'll admit, that specific mix is probably a love-or-hate scenario, since our mom wanted to spit it out while I thought it was the heavenly taste equivalent of rainbows and unicorns. And I don't even like Mtn. Dew.

Comparing Sub Zero with frogurt franchises, there are definitely pros and cons. You can't test-taste anything before you've committed to your own bowl that you have to pay for, so you might end up with something you don't love. However, there are a lot more flavors to choose from, plus the option of what cream you want, and the process of watching it freeze in front of your face is really cool and different. But hey, the beauty of this country's economy is that people can open businesses whenever and wherever they want, and if you're lucky enough, your geographic region will cover a wide spectrum. You might feel like frozen yogurt on Wednesdays, but Sub Zero ice cream on Saturdays, and you can go back and forth as often as you wish. Between the two styles of making and serving, and all the ways you're allowed to specialize within each, the options are endless.


Mashell said...

So, I'm pretty sure I have to go check out this place before I leave. Also, my ap chem class used liquid nitrogen to freeze bananas and racquet balls. We threw them against the wall, which made them shatter and then we ate the banana fragments. Oh good times.

KC said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KC said...

It's called gastronomic chemistry.
A very innovative man in Chicago named Grant Achatz does a process with caramel popcorn but injects liquid nitrogen into it, making it a foam shot. He also does the same thing to separate sugars from meats, puts said sugar into a cotton candy machine, and voila! Cotton candy tri-tip steak.