Tag Archives: #icecream

Chocolate Almond Heaven

How will I celebrate a milestone birthday during the pandemic?  That hoped-for week away with my family is out. A party at my home is out. Heck! My husband Larry and I can’t even head to my favorite restaurant and indulge in a filet mignon and my free birthday brownie sundae. But there is a silver lining. An Abbott’s frozen custard stand is less than 33 miles away from our Florida home!

The history of one of my culinary favorites began in 1902 when a young and enthusiastic Arthur Abbott traveled the Eastern seaboard with summer carnivals. He eventually found his way to Rochester, New York, where opened a stand across the street from Charlotte Beach on the shores of Lake Ontario and near a bustling amusement park.  

According to Abbott’s website, as word of his frozen concoction spread, people lined up from morning to night. From his newfound success, Arthur was able to buy and train his own racehorses. When he struck it rich after Blue Man won the Preakness, Abbott, in his 70’s, retired in 1957 and turned over his scoops to fellow frozen custard lovers Lenny and Tibby Schreiber. 

For many years, Tibby’s parents owned a kosher meat market in what used to be during the 1930’s, the heart of the Jewish community on Joseph Avenue in Rochester. The franchise is now run by the Schreibers’ daughter Gail Drew and her family. To this day, Abbott’s supports  the Tibby Schreiber Scholarship at the Jewish Home of Rochester for the children of employees of the skilled nursing home who are heading off to college. 

Brenden Drew grew up in the family business where he started taking out the trashing and washing dishes. He now is responsible for business development and franchising. “Every day it is an honor and a privilege to help grow the family business,” Brenden said. “Our family loves supporting our communities and making each one of our guests happy and so do each one of our local owners who truly live the brand”

It took the Shapiros a few more years to discover Abbott’s. In the early 90’s, Larry and daughter Julie went to Western New York for a track and field competition. They spent the night before the race with Larry’s sister and her husband, who lived in Rochester. They grabbed dinner on Charlotte’s Beach, followed by dessert at Abbott’s.

Larry was hooked from the first lick of his chocolate almond cone and soon introduced the rest of us to it.  Everyone who knows me knows how much I love ice cream. But Abbott’s chocolate almond frozen custard is in a class by itself. The chocolate  custard is rich and smooth and creamy and delicious. What makes it outstanding are the roughly chopped  roasted almonds that are stuffed into the custard. As one reviewer on Yelp raved, “It is like sex in frozen form!”

Whenever we went to Rochester, we made sure Abbott’s was on our agenda. Fortunately, as our son Adam spent four years at University of Rochester, so we had plenty of chances to make a stop when we were there.

Sometimes once was not enough. In 2003, Larry and I went to a wedding that was held in a church in Rochester. On the way to the reception, Larry and I stopped at Abbott’s for a pre-dinner cone. The next day, we went with the bride’s parents to another Abbott’s for a second helping. They knew how much we loved this stuff. When Larry had surgery on a torn Achilles tendon a couple of years later, they had the company ship out a couple of quarts to him. He graciously shared it with me. 

At this point, we thought Abbott’s was only located in Rochester. In 2012, however, Larry and I were on  Naples, Florida, strolling down Fifth Avenue, when Larry began running down the street. “Come on! Come on! I have a surprise for you!” And there in front of us was an Abbott’s frozen custard! Yep! Time for another chocolate almond cone.

The Naples franchise closed. Thankfully, another one of Larry’s sisters spends their winters in Vero Beach, and every time we visit her and her husband, we hit Abbott’s. They don’t even have to be there. We celebrated Larry’s 70th birthday by going to a beach farther down the coast and stopping at Abbott’s on the way home.

Vero Beach is 100 miles away, not conducive to regular visits. And we don’t get to Rochester very often. So imagine our joy in discovering that an Abbott’s opened up in Winter Garden, only 33 miles up the road. We celebrated Father’s Day 2020 with our first visit. It was almost as wonderful as we imagined, but we think they didn’t hear our request for chocolate ALMOND, as we realized halfway through our cones that the familiar crunch was missing. Two days later, we had to get a bike tire fixed, and we were only 16 miles away from Abbott’s. So what is a thirty-two mile round trip detour for the love of frozen custard? And this time we not only got plenty of almonds, but the size small was bigger than the previous Sunday’s medium. Heaven!!

We made our third trip up a couple of weeks later. Another bike tire blew, and did another detour. I am sure we will squeeze another visit before my Labor Day weekend birthday. We are running out of bike tires, but we can find another reason.

When we make our trip up for my birthday cone, I will pack a cooler and plenty of ice and we will bring extra home, including a quart for friends in our community who previously lived in Rochester.  It may not be the celebration for which I hoped to kick off my eighth decade. But it’s a sweet start!

A version of this article originally appeared in the Jewish World News, a bi-weekly subscription-based newspaper in upstate New York, in the August 6. 2020, iissue.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Jewish Observer of Central New York, a bi-weekly subscription-based newspaper in upstate New York, in the June 2021 issue.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Heritage Florida Jewish News, a weekly subscription-based newspaper in Central Florida in its August 14, 2020 issue.

A version of this article originally appeared in the Jewish Observer of Central New York, a bi-weekly subscription-based newspaper in upstate New York, in the June 2021 issue.

My pre-birthday trial run to Abbott’s Frozen Custard in Winter Garden, Florida

Manna From Heaven: Vanilla Ice Cream

My maiden name is Cohen. In all honesty, however, it should have been Cone. As in ice cream cone. As in my favorite summertime/anytime treat. As a matter of fact, if I were one of the Israelis wandering the desert with Moses, my manna from heaven would have tasted like Breyer’s Natural Vanilla.

My love for ice cream is in my genetic makeup. While I was growing up, a day wasn’t complete in the Cohen household without our dishes of ice cream. In the 1950s in Keeseville, our small town in Upstate New York,, choices were limited. Our freezer usually held one or two half gallons of Sealtest Neapolitan. Having all three flavors for six people worked out well. My father chose vanilla topped with a huge helping of strawberry preserves. My mother went for the strawberry. The four children took whatever we could scoop up with our vintage gray aluminum Scoop Rite ice cream scoop.

Our favorite food also played into all of our family’s special occasions. We dished out ice cream at birthday celebrations, Yom Kippur break-the-fasts, the first post-Passover meal, and Thanksgiving—what was apple pie without the a la mode! As an added treat, my parents would take us for ice cream at the Frosty Dairy Bar, a restaurant on Route 9 in Plattsburgh. Going there allowed us to go beyond Neapolitan, giving me my first tastes of “exotic” flavors like pistachio, chocolate chip, and cherry vanilla.

Fortunately, I met and married a man who, although not as fanatical as me, enjoys ice cream. He loves me enough to tolerate my addiction. Otherwise, I doubt if the marriage would have lasted. Our first date was a movie and a trip to Friendly’s. Larry had a chocolate Fribble, and I had a hot fudge sundae with—you guessed it—vanilla ice cream. It became our go-to place after every movie or play for many years.

Once we had children, we usually kept at least one half gallon of ice cream in the freezer, vanilla for me and Stewart’s Swiss chocolate almond for Larry—he still hasn’t forgiven Stewart’s for phasing out his favorite flavor. Once they could hold a kiddie cone, we would bring Adam and Julie during summer months to the Country Drive-In, a popular hamburger/soft-serve ice cream stand off Exit 8 of the Northway. Julie took Larry there every Father’s Day for a hamburger, fries, and an ice cream cone from elementary school until she graduated college.

My now-adult children don’t place ice cream as high on their favorite food list, but they take care of their mother. Julie and Sam makes sure they have Haagen-Dazs ice cream or gelato waiting for us in their freezer when we visit them Colorado. Adam humors us by taking us to Bi-Rite Creamery for a waffle cone whenever we visit him in San Francisco.

As empty nesters, we usually have a half gallon of vanilla ice cream in the freezer. I will have a small scoop once a week. Larry will indulge a little more often using his own “in-house ice cream routine.” First he softens the ice cream by putting the whole carton into the microwave for a few seconds. He then uses the Scoop Rite ice cream scoop we inherited from my parents to transfer one or two scoops into a cereal bowl. He squirts on Hershey’s Special Dark chocolate syrup, throws on a few Ghirardelli dark chocolate chips, and tosses on a healthy handful of chopped walnuts and sliced almonds. When Larry was laid up with a leg surgery, I tried to cheer him up by ‘recreating’ his masterpiece. I failed miserably as I messed up the proportions of ice cream, chocolate syrup, and nuts. To be honest, I think Larry treats ice cream as another way to eat nuts.

For me, however, a simple unadorned dish or cone of vanilla ice cream is my favorite food, a link to my childhood as well as one of life’s great pleasures. Ice cream even has played an important role during one of the most poignant times of my life. When my mother fell gravely ill four days before she passed away, she lost her desire for food. I asked her if she wanted anything special to eat. She whispered, “Strawberry ice cream.” The cafe at Coburg Village, the independent living place where she was living, had none. The wonderful young woman working behind the counter, upon hearing the story, went up to the main restaurant and brought me back a huge dish of strawberry ice cream to honor my mother’s request. When I got back to Mom’s bedside, she ate three or four spoonfuls before she pushed my hand away. “That was delicious! Thank you!” That was the last food she ever ate, a true Cohen to the end. I can only hope that I, like my mother, will a long, happy, healthy life that concludes with the sweet taste of vanilla ice cream on my tongue.

Until we relocated to Florida, one of my favorite stops was the three-mile trip to the Country Drive-In for a vanilla soft serve. As a matter of fact, I needed to make a trip there to take a picture of my eating my cone for the Jewish World, It was a cold, rainy, day, making it quite tough to buy that cone and eat it. Someone had to do the job, however, and who better than Marilyn Cone Shapiro?