Strawberry granita with pickled strawberries, mint, strawberry gelee… (Lenny Gilmore/RedEye )
Is anyone else suffering from a serious case of end-of-summer panic? You go to a couple street fests and restaurant openings, spend a weekend at Lollapalooza and all of a sudden, it's approaching mid-August. While hot days are still on the horizon, we've put together a checklist of cool treats to savor, ranging from shaved ice to upside-down ice cream cones to ice pops fit for the most adventurous foodies. Get a start on it now and you'll have your fill by the time you're ready to throw on your first scarf of the fall season.
Halo halo shaved ice ($5.50) at Pecking Order
4416 N. Clark St. 773-907-9900
Hints of chef/owner Kristine Subido's Filipino heritage are all over the menu at this Uptown chicken shop, from the pickled vegetables to banana ketchup to her spin on traditional halo halo, a shaved ice dessert flavored with syrups and fruit. Subido's version combines preserved jackfruit, fresh mango and pineapple and nata de pina, a pineapple gel. Mango sauce, coconut caramel and caramelized toasted rice on top seal the deal.
Strawberry granita ($8) at Homestead
1916 W. Chicago Ave. 773-645-4949
At this rooftop restaurant above West Town Bakery & Diner (enter through Roots Handmade Pizza next door), chef John Wayne "Duke" Formica has dreamed up an icy dessert for steamy nights spent dining outdoors. Also loosely based on halo halo, which Formica ate often when visiting the Philippines, this dessert starts with a generous pile of strawberry-rose granita. On top of that, Formica adds pickled strawberries, a scoop of strawberry sorbet, chewy cubes of strawberry gelee and sprigs of mint. As many ingredients as possible come from Homestead's on-site garden, in plain sight from any of the rooftop tables.
Prix Fixe popsicle ($9) at Ice3
"I'm just a girl who likes making kooky flavors of ice cream," said Erika Stone-Miller, the owner of recently launched ice cream truck Ice3 (pronounced "Ice Cubed"). The kookiest is this layered gourmet bar that emulates a five-course Italian dinner from start to finish: Prosecco, beet salad with arugula and lemon, prosciutto, tomato-veal ragu and tiramisu drizzled with chocolate. Chef Adam Harralson, who most recently worked at The Gage and Henri, came up with the idea while brainstorming flavors with his fiance Alison Honiotes, also a chef who has worked at Zealous and Piccolo Sogno. "I would say it's not necessarily for everyone because the first couple [layers] are the savory courses, but when you hit the tiramisu, that's when you get your sweet reward," Stone-Miller said. Too wacky for your taste? Ice3 also sells more "normal" flavors of ice cream for $3.50-$5. Track the truck's location by following @ice3truck on Twitter or check the schedule at ice-cubed.com
Horchata milkshake ($4) and paletas ($3) at Antique Taco
1360 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-687-8697
Plenty of taquerias serve paper cups of horchata, but this Wicker Park restaurant puts its own spin on the traditional Mexican drink by turning it into a frosty milkshake. Chef Rick Ortiz starts by making a horchata base with toasted almonds, sweetened condensed milk, Mexican cinnamon and rice. Then he blends in ice cream and banana, a flavor that he thinks matches well with cinnamon and also reminds him of banana milkshakes his dad used to make for him as a kid. For a lighter treat, try paletas (the Spanish word for ice pop) in rotating flavors such as coconut, cucumber-jalapeno or watermelon with lime, basil and peppercorn. Instead of the flat, rectangular paletas you're used to seeing from street carts, these pops are round with miniature wooden sticks frozen inside.
Frozen linzer torte ($8) at Telegraph
2601 N. Milwaukee Ave. 773-292-9463
A dessert gone wrong actually inspired this elaborate frozen dessert made by pastry chef Katie Wyer. "I made individual raspberry linzer tortes when raspberries started coming into season in tiny little aluminum pie tins, but they got stuck in the tins," she said. To salvage the treats, she folded the almond crust and raspberry filling into vanilla ice cream to make a chunky ice cream a la Ben & Jerry's. To dress it up as a plated dessert, Wyer makes waffle cones out of pizzelles, a hand-pressed Italian cookie, and dips them in chocolate and pretzel bits. Add almond-scotch brownie bites (used as a garnish and also hidden in the bottom of the cone) and you've got one decadent dessert. Since wine matches well with everything at this Logan Square spot, you can also order it paired with a half-pour of Laubade Floc de Gascogne, a French dessert wine, for $12.
Ice cream sandwiches ($2.50) at The Counter
666 W. Diversey Pkwy. 773-935-1995
This Lincoln Park eatery has taken the design-your-own philosophy of its burger menu and applied it to ice cream sandwiches. Pick your choice of cookie—chocolate-chip, white chocolate-macadamia nut or oatmeal—to serve as the vehicle for a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The top and bottom cookies don't have to match, so combos such as oatmeal/chocolate-chip are fair game. Each is big enough for one person on their own, or fit to split with a friend if you've already downed a burger beforehand.
>>FYI: More ice cream!
Keep an eye out for new ice cream sandwich cart Chi-Scream (@ChiScream on Twitter) roaming the streets of Chicago and as well as parking it at Logan Square Farmers Market.
View photos of the frozen treats here.
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