Chow, Baby: Wednesday, August 27, 2003
We All Cream

“And that’s why we call it concrete,” said the Woolley’s counterman with a flourish, upending the 16oz cup of frozen custard. “Sweet,” said the young guy in a Friends t-shirt as he reached for his upside-down orange-pineapple delight. Chow, Baby envisioned itself in a slo-mo dive over the counter to rescue the scrumptious stuff, but heroics weren’t necessary. This ice cream-on-steroids is as solid as, well, concrete.

This was a combo beat-the-heat and revisiting-the-childhood quest. When Chow, Baby was just a little New Orleanian, a local drugstore chain by the name of K&B had a wonderful house-brand ice cream. The line included the usual vanilla, chocolate, and hurricane, but the most very favorite of young Chow, Baby and Mercury, its animal companion at the time, was the cream cheese flavor. Oh, that was the most luscious dish in a city of luscious dishes, intensely rich and creamy, like eating a slice of frozen cheesecake. Cream-cheese-flavored ice cream can’t be all that bizarre — there’s a recipe for it in the House and Home section of, for crying out loud — but since K&B sold out to stupid Rite-Aid many years ago, Chow, Baby has never again been able to find it packaged. Until last week.

In the course of visits to frozen-custard purveyors Curly’s (4017 Camp Bowie Blvd, near Clover Lane), Woolley’s (7630 N Beach St, just north of Basswood), Milwaukee Joe’s (201 Harwood Rd, Bedford), and Sheridan’s (7428 Denton Hwy, Watauga), Chow, Baby learned a lot about this better-than-ice-cream confection. Leaving out most of the boring parts: Custard has all the fat of ice cream, but much less air. That and some egg yolks give custard its dense silkiness. Connoisseurs say that because custard is served warmer than ice cream (18 to 25 degrees rather than 5 or so), the mouth isn’t as numb and so the taste lasts longer. Custard was born on Coney Island in the 1920s, became popular in the Midwest in the ’50s, and now, according to the never-wrong Dallas Business Journal, is the newest food craze in the Metroplex.

“Concrete” is the common name for custard blended with any of an astounding variety of mixers, including Chow, Baby’s childhood faves: Nerds, Peppermint Patties, Wild Turkey, and Nutter Butters. Sheridan’s mixes peanut butter and sliced bananas into vanilla custard for “Elvis’s Pick.” August’s flavor of the month at Curly’s is raspberry Oreo, which go together better than you might think, especially when consumed on Curly’s cool shrubbery-lined patio. Milwaukee Joe’s, which opened in 1995, is the old-timer, and here Chow, Baby’s quest ended: “Grandma Fred’s NY Cheesecake” is vanilla custard blended with — get this — actual, live New York-style cheesecake. Is that cool or what? Chow, Baby’s current animal companion, Miss Junior, loved it too. Let Dallas have its fancy gelato; we’ll scream for custard.

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