Liz Swain 4:24 p.m., May 24
“Know what other month we’ve just missed?” says Carla, as we’re crumpling the wrappings of the hot dogs we've just chomped (See “Hot Dog Month”).
“Whatever it was, I don’t have room for it,” I say.
“No, seriously. It was National Hot Dog Month, right? But also National Ice Cream Month. Last month. July.”
We’re at this bus stop at the little park by the fountain in Coronado where Orange Avenue bends like an elbow joint and heads for the Del.
“So you know what I see…”
Lord. She has that expression. She’s looking straight across Orange towards the blue neon of MooTime Creamery (at 1025 Orange Avenue, 619-435-2422).
Even from here you can see the place is milling with families, teens, oldies.
“Please?” coos Carla. “We’ve got time. I’ll wait here.”
Have to admit, I kinda like the whole thing about Mootime. It’s one of the “real ice cream” pioneers that burst on us back in the late 90s. We didn’t realize it then, but it was part of the sputtering locovore food movement, the whole organic thing, just like the local beer movement, the historic buildings preservation movement, back-to-bikes, whatever. It was like, “Enough of the corporate BS that’s ruled us for 50 years. Let’s get real. Feel the dirt beneath our feet again.”
At that time Baskin-Robbins ruled the ice cream universe around here. Then along came this local kid named David Spatafore who had learned about milk, cheese, and how to make “real” ice cream while he was working for a dairy company up in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Around 1998, he left the company and brought his new-learned skills back home, opened this store, and took on Baskin-Robbins. A real, uh, David-Goliath situation.
Fast-forward a decade and guess who’s king of the island? No more Baskin Robbins. Two MooTimes (the other’s at the Hotel Del). Lines like tonight every night I’ve come by. Kids tearing ahead of their parents shouting “MooTime!” like Santa Claus was waiting in there.
So hey, I cross the road and join the line. Funny how kids take charge and adults act like kids. Big eyes all round. And as each person comes out with their booty, everybody crowds around, takes iPhone pics, asks them what it is.
“Dessert nachos,” says this guy in the green tee with a box of crisp triangular pastries topped with caramel and chocolate and vanilla, all surrounding a mound of cherry-topped ice cream.
By the time my turn comes, and this gal Clarissa asks what I want, there’s so much going on I just say “I’ll have what she’s having,” about the kid in front.
She’s hauling off with a big polystyrene box of what looks like a ginormous brownie sandwich with ice cream in the middle and a blizzard of chocolate, caramel, raspberry and other stuff swirled on top.
“Crown Brownie,” think she said. Wall menu says “Two freshly baked brownies are layered with MooTime vanilla ice cream, served with hot fudge, whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles and a cherry.”
So I watch Clarissa build my Crown Brownie.
She starts off laying down a lake of hot fudge. Then she puts in this inch-high slice of brownie as big as the box itself, then she comes back and asks what kind of ice cream I’d like, and it turns out you get four scoops, any flavor, not just one scoop of vanilla ice cream.
I end up getting caramel, some blue-colored sorbet, strawberry, and orange sorbet.
Clarissa caps it with another brownie, unleashes a couple of inches of whipped cream all over it, then starts squirting syrups: chocolate, caramel, marshmallow and cherry.
Her buddy hands it to me.
Lawdie! It weighs a ton! Really heavy. I pay $7.99 plus tax. Such a deal. Not what you’d expect from Coronado.
Two minutes later I’m back sitting next to the lovely Carla. We’re digging in with a couple of plastic forks. Somehow, appetites have come back onstream, big-time.
“Unbelievable,” she mumbles.
We raise a forkful to National Ice Cream Month. Hey, gotta blame someone.
But is it that bad for you? I mean, think of all those happiness endorphins that start raging around your body. That has to be good.
And tomorrow morning we can always get up and run a half-marathon.