Ice cream might be an iconic summer tradition, but to Floridians such refreshing indulgences are a year-round necessity. Good thing there are plenty of options.
I scream, you scream … OK, OK, just kidding … that line is way overplayed. It’s more like … any afternoon in Florida, especially May through October, you feel like screaming because it’s as hot as the dickens. In theory, you could easily go for an ice bath, but realize having a cool treat makes a bit more sense. Lucky for you, there are some fantastic options to subdue your sweating, and they cater to just about every dietary need, from the simple sweet tooth to the keto fanatic. And while we can’t stop you from overheating, we can help you chill out by directing you to one of these local shops. Go ahead, revel in some refreshment without being drenched — in ice water any way.
With a Kürtös cone holding your ice cream, say goodbye to memories of bland cake cones of childhood past and say hello to a vessel that tastes just as good, if not better, than its contents. Kürtös owner Aniko Gulyas became somewhat of a local food celebrity when she introduced area farmers markets to a 300-year-old recipe for Hungarian chimney cakes, called Kürtöskalács, in honor of her culinary heritage. Made of raised dough, wrapped around a wooden dowel then quickly cooked at high temps, Kürtös cakes are soft and billowy on the inside, crunchy on the outside and traditionally topped with cinnamon and walnuts.
After great success at local farmers markets with her unique offerings (which include a wide range of toppings and even a savory version), Guylas jumped to the next level when she opened a brick-and-mortar at the Mall at UTC at the beginning of the year. Her new shop is the hub for making her kürtös fresh daily. It’s also where they fill a cone-shaped version of cylindrical kürtös with housemade soft-serve vanilla ice cream and adorn the creamy inside with culinary novelties like Nutella. The Kürtös menu offers several signature cones like the Budapest — a chocolate wafer, walnuts and a drizzle of chocolate — but if none of the signature options strike your fancy, feel free to create your own.
Crop Superfood Bowls
(vegan and some gluten-free)
As much as we think of cool treats for the kids, this one might be perfect for adults. Superfood Bowls from Crop Juice might be the only option on our list that we recommend you partake in any time of day, even — no, especially — for breakfast. Crop Juice owner Karen Odierna, a former oncology nurse, started Crop as an ode to her “aha” moment with the benefits of juicing. But what is best known as a cold-pressed juice shop has evolved into a go-to place for local residents' healthy living routine. So much so that the Crop store selection now offers mylks, smoothies, overnight oats, desserts, energy bites, vegan and veg meals and, of course, amazing superfood bowls.
Creamy and vibrant, these bowls are loaded with frozen fruit and vitamins, blended for smoothness and topped with a range of healthy toppings. They come free of any guilt and still feel like an indulgence. Take for example, the “Enter the Dragon” (above) — a slightly sweet and refreshing frozen concoction topped with goji berries, toasted coconut flakes and kiwicha chunks (ancient grain bars) and topped with a drizzle of coconut nectar. Best of all, it contains enough nutrition for it to be a complete meal. Looking for a pick-me-up? Order a “Cookies & Cold Brew” bowl, which contains a mix of local cold brew coffee, espresso, raw stoneground almond chocolate chip cookie dough butter, banana, cocoa powder, acai and more. It will make you feel like a kid again.
Lickity Splits Ice Cream
With flavors like the ever kid-popular Superman — a pastel but vibrant mix of lemon, tutti-frutti, and blue moon ice cream swirled together, a “uniquely Midwestern flavor” and Cherry Streusel — vanilla ice cream with a hint of cherry flavor, swirled with sweet cherry preserves and endowed with crunchy pieces of homemade streusel, Lakewood Ranch-based Lickity Splits Ice Cream has the specialty flavor market dialed in. What sets it apart is the use of local ingredients and natural oils as opposed to chemical flavor profiles to create its diverse ice cream palate.
Founder and owner Matt Eastman says whether it’s toasting their own coconut or candying their own pecans, they forgo the fake and focus on the real deal when it comes to ingredients. Although Eastman came up with the original 30 core flavors himself, he now collaborates with ice cream chefs (who knew there was such a career?) to come up with new and limited-release flavors, such as Guinness Dark Chocolate and Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake. And to ensure that each new flavor meets the top taste standards, Eastman and his wife, Jessica, turn to the official taste-testers: 11-year-old daughters Abigail and Sophia, for the sign off.
Although Lickity Splits does not have a stand-alone scoop shop, if you’ve been to any festivals or events of late (e.g. the Lightning Watch Party in April) you’ll recognize the vintage-style farm cart and catchy cow logo. Look for it at select community events and more neighborhood scoop shops and venues.
Big Olaf Creamery Banana Splits
Big Olaf Creamery ice cream is traditional in every sense of its origins, right down to being handmade by the Amish in the Pinecraft neighborhood of Sarasota. The claim to fame is that it’s the high butter-fat content that makes this ice cream so, well, creamy. Big Olaf also seeks the freshest and highest quality dairy when making its frozen delight, which is made in small batches then delivered to ice cream shops throughout Florida up into the eastern seaboard as far north as Virginia.
Sarasota is lucky to have several independently owned Big Olaf scoop shops, including the Big Olaf Creamery of Lakewood Ranch, which has been owned and operated by Jeannet Romero and Gerardo Serrano for eight years. They are community oriented, even preferring to hire high school students from area schools to serve up your scoops. From sorbets to ice cream, they have just about any flavor to hit your sweet spot. And you can have it served any way you like, but we suggest a scoop in one of their hand-dipped chocolate waffle cones. Or if you are feeling adventurous, bring a friend and order up a Big Olaf Banana Split — traditionally made with a scoop of vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream, flanked with two bananas and topped with caramel, chocolate and strawberry syrups before being finished off with whipped cream, peanuts and sprinkles (below). But please don’t be boxed in by tradition on our behalf. The team at Big Olaf is happy to make it any way you like.
D’Lites Shoppe LUV Nice Cream
(vegan, keto- friendly and gluten-free)
Truth be told, we don’t all scream for ice cream. Some of us have food allergies. Or maybe your internal chemistry doesn’t don’t bode well with sugar. Heck, maybe you just choose not to eat dairy. Don’t despair. Husband and wife team Zachary and Kirsten Mestancik, owners of D’Lites Shoppe, make it easy for those with dietary restrictions to partake in a cold, freshly made delight.
After a move to Lakewood Ranch in 2014, the young couple tapped into Kirsten’s ice cream heritage as the granddaughter of best-selling Joy ice cream cone founder Albert George. But in pursuit of satisfying a sweet tooth, it was also imperative they honor a dual passion for health and wellness. D’Lites Shoppe was born and is a hub for all things sweet and health-driven. And while D’Lites offers a range of health products, the highlight of the shop is the cold treats it offers, from a low-calorie soft serve to a scoopable vegan, gluten-free ice cream made with coconut milk and sweetened with Sweet LUV — an organic Stevia-blend sugar substitute. But don’t be fooled by all this health talk, the creamy texture and taste can compete with any cow’s milk-based ice cream we’ve had. And with regular flavor offerings like CBD Chocolate in addition to a few rotating flavors like Chai Pistachio, we recommend trying it even if you have no restrictions.
Plus, psst…all of the D’Lites frozen treats are keto-friendly.