Ice Cream Festival

Toddy Jones Park, Amherstburg
Date visited: July 1

We couldn’t let the fourth annual Amherstburg Ice Cream Festival go unmentioned, especially since this year’s edition featured the most ice cream yet. The event is held Canada Day in Toddy Jones Park on the south end of Fort Malden and spills onto the fort grounds.

Previous years we had been disappointed in the number of vendors actually offering ice cream as opposed to candles or kettle corn, but this year there were a full seven varieties of frozen treat to choose from, and we sampled several.

We skipped the Dairy Treat soft ice cream truck on the grounds that all soft ice cream pretty much tastes the same. Marta can’t pass up a Hawaiian Ice, though, and she opted for a rainbow striped cup of lime, orange and blue raspberry. For $3, it’s shaved ice with brightly-coloured flavoured syrup – an upscale snow-cone. It’s only once a year, so what the heck? She liked it.

Dad tries some Nucelli's while Marta finishes her Hawaiian Ice.

Next up, some Nucelli’s Frozen Yogurt. Again, not strictly ice cream, but we weren’t in the mood to be particular. A cup of Strawberry-Chocolate set us back $3.50.

Gennaro’s gelato was offering $4 and $5 cups. This Italian specialty is denser than American ice creams, with typically richer flavours. We settled for a couple of taste spoons, sampling the Hazelnut and Limoncello. Both were terrific, with the not-too-sweet taste we want from gelato. Kudos to Enzo Palumbo, who was on hand that day, serving up the gelato he crafts himself in his Via Italia café.

After taking some time to enjoy the live entertainment, we came back to try the cups from Cold Stone Creamery. In Windsor-Essex, this high-end product is available at certain Tim Hortons locations, including the one in Amherstburg which organized the tent at the festival. The big draw to these super-ultra premium (with concomitant pricing!) specialties is supposed to be the experience: trained ice cream ninjas blend in expensive exotic extra ingredients on a frozen slab made of pure amethyst or somesuch. Suffice it to say this experience did not translate to an outdoors festival. “Here’s our freezer, here’s your cup of basic ice cream.” Our party tried Cake Batter and Apple Fritter, $4 each for a small. The latter is specially formulated to mimic a Tim Hortons apple fritter doughnut. Opinions varied on the former, some claiming to taste just sugar and others noting a distinct flavour of cake batter.

Besides serving its signature crepes, the Cottam-based Crepe Temptations offered small cones of Mapleton’s Organics ice cream. We ordered a couple of grown-up flavours: Ginger and Cappuccino. By this point in the day, our taste buds should have been jaded, but these final cones were the highlights. Rich and creamy, packed with flavour, the Mapleton’s ice cream was everything we were looking for. The fact that it’s organic and produced on a family farm in Ontario is just a bonus. At just $2 (for an admittedly small cone), it was the best deal of the day. I wonder how much it costs at the shop?

Even at the Ice Cream Festival you need a break from all that sweet. How about a Honking Big Pickle on a Stick (actual name)? Marta ended up eating two.

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