Date: November 28, 2012
by: June LeBell | Contributing columnist



+ Freeze! It’s time for unique ice cream
We saw the sign, “ice cream,” and it was just that time of day — too early for dinner, too late for lunch, hankering for a snack — so we followed the signs. Sure enough, there was a new place in a little strip mall off Sawyer and Clark roads that looked sparkly and inviting and, well, different from most ice-cream places.
The interior gleamed with shiny walls and lots of stainless steel. There was a perky, young woman behind the counter who asked, “Have you been here before?” “No,” we told her, not really expecting an experience but yearning for something icy and creamy.

What we discovered was a one-of-a-kind ice- cream parlor that makes about 1 trillion different combinations “to suit every taste” of flavors, ingredients and “mix-ins.”

Yes … I said 1 trillion, which is a little more than Baskin-Robbins or Howard Johnsons! And they offer “premium,” with 14% cream content; “custard” (10%); “low fat” (5%); and “yogurt” or “soy/rice milk” (no fat). But those aren’t the only twists.

Don’t expect to walk into this ice-cream parlor, look at a few dozen flavors, and point. Here, you tell your server what kind of treat you want (see list in previous paragraph), and she pours the liquid into a giant stainless-steel mixing bowl. Then comes the flavor. Don’t get me started on that list, but imagine everything from chocolate to vanilla, amaretto to peanut butter, strawberry, coffee and some pretty outlandish things such as Mountain Dew or Tiger’s Blood, or any combination — and you’ve invented your very own ice cream.

Then you get to add stuff, such as marshmallows, chocolate flakes, cheesecake chunks, M&Ms, mixed berries or, yes, bubble gum, but you still haven’t got your treat, because all this stuff is floating in that bowl, waiting to be magically frozen. That happens when you “choose your chill factor”: soft-serve, scoop-able or rock hard. That’s when the real enchantment begins, because that’s when your server takes what looks like a giant elephant’s trunk and sounds like one of those balloon blower-uppers and sprays liquid nitrogen onto the mixture.

Liquid nitrogen boils when it gets down to minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit, and it freezes anything it touches.
Sound like fun? It is, because you’re the chef, you’re the inventor and, best of all, you’re the taster.

Sarasota’s Sub Zero Ice Cream and Yogurt is the only one of its kind in Florida. In fact, it’s the only one east of the Rockies. It was devised by a chemist in Utah, but the owners and operators of this branch are Brad Lord, Don Wirth and Gabe Ramsey. They and their wives, before getting into the ice-cream dish, were all involved in the medical field as nurses and anesthetists.

This brand-new parlor at 4065 Clark Road is open from noon every day.

+ Pop-up restaurant has staying power
We wrote recently that The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota is in the process of remodeling and refining its restaurants and bars. The new restaurant and lounge will be called Jack Dusty and will open after the first of the year, but that doesn’t mean things are at a standstill there. Walls may block entry to the new place, but the “temporary” restaurant, CdZ, is alive and well, and we had one of the best dinners in a long while there the other night. It was also amazingly reasonable, considering the quality of the food and service.

We began by sharing the crab cake, which was lighter than Sarasota air on a balmy night and seemed not to have any filler at all, and was just perfect with a chicory and citrus mayonnaise. I had the blackened grouper etouffee, and my husband, Ed, went for a medium-rare rack of Colorado lamb (three bones, but they also offered four) and we shared positively enormous portions of the best creamed spinach I’ve ever had and an order of braised greens (collards, smoked, chopped and positively delicate to the tongue) with pancetta, shallots, garlic and Key lime. The meat and the fish were terrific, but the veggies (of which you have choices with no additional charge) were so good I’m tempted to find out if they offer take-out spinach.

Sammy was our server, and she couldn’t have been better, answering myriad questions about the menu, appearing when needed and vanishing when we became involved with our food and conversation.

I’m sure Jack Dusty will be splendid, but I can’t imagine anything better than CdZ. We plan to go back while it’s still there. We want to try the whole fried chicken (described as being luscious and the size of a large Cornish hen), and the customized 8-ounce prime burger, with choices from chimichurri to fried mac and cheese as accompaniments.

The Ritz knows how to do it right, and every server there is beautifully trained. But, if you can, ask for Sammy. She’s the best!


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