Dining Out: Dairy Godmother, Del Ray neighborhood, Alexandria, VA

I love frozen desserts. Love them. King Cones, Drumsticks and ice cream sandwiches are my drugs of choice. When Ben&Jerry’s has a new flavor, I’m there. When Haagen Dasz has free cone day I will find a way, even if it’s across town. Godiva mails me coupons for free Chocolixirs. I may be on a diet and exercise regime to get me into a tankini this summer, but I’d sooner give up my martinis than my ice cream. Pure and simple. The Dairy Godmother in Alexandria, VA’s Delray neighborhood will make all your ice dreams come true by serving up a slightly healthier, tastier, alternative to Haagen Dasz or Ben and his buddy Jerry.

If you haven’t tried frozen custard it’s worth a lick, whether it’s Kohr Brothers, Abbott’s, Ted Drewes, Gilles, Leon’s, Kopp’s or another chain. It’s thicker and creamier than ice cream, thanks to a process called “overrun” which beats air into the ingredients and increases the amount of ice crystals. Ice cream has an overrun of about 100% while frozen custard’s is around 20%. Egg yolk (1.4%) lends a thick, creamy texture that doesn’t melt as quickly- in fact, “frozen” custard is served at a higher temp than ice cream. Real frozen custard, depending on who you believe, is scooped rather than twirled (like they do at Dickey’s in DC where you can have any flavor you want as long as it’s chocolate or vanilla). And yes, there’s butterfat- about 10%- but it’s less than traditional ice cream which can go from 17% to higher in premium brands.

Liz, the Dairy Godmother herself, scoops vanilla and chocolate and a flavor of the day in a cute little shop down the street from the reknown Evening Star Cafe (sister establishment to Rustico and Buzz among others). All are made in house, as are an eclectic selection of six sorbets. Raspberry is always on the menu, as is lemon lavender, but apricot ginger, pomegranate, pineapple with cilantro and that tip-of-the-tongue sixth rotate according to the seasons with such flavors as strawberry rubarb, West Indian Lime, Thai coconut among others.

Before you go, check their flavor calendar- the flavor of the day changes every two days. As of this moment, right now, June 1st and 2nd DM is debuting “Ho’omaika’i” in homage to some neighbors of Hawaiian descent whose kids graduated from the local high school- TC Williams. Ho’omaika’i means “Congratulations” and the flavor is a tempting mix of banana custard with macadamia nuts and chocolate shortbread. After that comes “Mozambique”- curious? Go to the website, click on Flavor Forecast link, then let your cursor hover over the flavors with blue underlines and you’ll get a short description of that day’s dessert. They also serve sundaes (including the “Door Cherry Sour” with sour cherries and housemade marshmallows), shakes, rootbeer floats (they sell Wisconsin-made bottled sodas as well) and other treats like lavender shortbread and homemade dog biscuits. Give them 24 hours notice and they’ll make you a cake featuring the day’s flavor.

The day we went the flavor was strawberry and they were making shortcake parfaits with vanilla custard and strawberries. The strawberry custard was fresh, delicious and summer sun kissed- a good as the fresh strawberries we used to pick in Ruskin, FL every year when we were kids. A sampling of sorbets revealed the pomegranate to be delicately flavored and only slightly tart, and apricot ginger to have a pleasing tangy bite. Takeaway pints are available and we had to restrain ourselves.

Khulfi is on the menu for June, so you can bet we’ll be back!

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