Gimme Some Sugar
The sweetest cold treats for the hottest time of year
by Alex Reichek
Photographs by Kathleen Pieratt
Alex Reichek knows her stuff. By “stuff” I mean food — and by “food” I mean desserts. The happy omnivore and former McGuire Moorman Hospitality communications director has a legendary sweet tooth. One that shines through as she chronicles her many food adventures (pastries in Mexico City! Massaman curry in New York City!), both savory and sweet, as part of her food and travel blog (@chekmarkeats).
A childhood picky eater, the Houston native first discovered her love for the food world when she moved to New York City in 2009. The University of Texas grad found a job working at Shadow (a marketing and communications firm), where she somewhat guiltily explains that eating out and trying a little bit of everything was both expected and encouraged by her colleagues.
Since then, Reichek’s culinary enthusiasm has only grown, and after moving back to Austin in 2016 for the MMH job, she tackled Austin’s food world headon. Now, striking out on her own, Reichek is putting her sweet tooth to good use, as she reports for Tribeza on the best spots around Austin to grab an indulgent (and cold!) summer treat. – Margaret Williams
Baked Bear is Austin’s newest icecream-sandwich destination. Located at The Seaholm, the Baked Bear bakes all of its treats in-house — a must in my opinion. Despite the many choices — 11 cookies, 13 ice cream flavors, and 12 toppings — I found the Blackberry Crumble ice cream between Snickerdoodle cookies to be a light and craveable summer dessert. Since I’m typically a chocolate fan I was surprised by how much I loved this one. And if you want to take a slightly more indulgent route, go for the red velvet cookies (draped in a light vanilla icing) filled with my all-time favorite ice cream flavor, salted-caramel fudge. Plus there are cookie and brownie bowls, which make for a less messy experience. And don’t forget to add Fruity Pebbles to any sandwich for instant nostalgia.
It’s hard to imagine churros any better than what you can get in Mexico City, but at Churro Co., they are made-to-order and served warm with a cinnamon-sugar coating. Kick it up a notch and order the Campfire, which is tossed in graham cracker, sugar, Mexican-chocolate sauce, whipped cream, and torched marshmallow. Whatever you do, please make sure you add a scoop of Blue Bell vanilla ice cream on top, as it swirls all the flavors together and creates just the right texture. Don’t forget to check their hours before you go. This cute dessert truck is only open Thursday through Sunday.
Most people come to Fresa’s for the tacos and chicken al carbon. I come for the made-from-scratch ice cream by chef Laura Sawicki. The perfectly soft but also crunchy homemade Oreos make the spot’s cookies-and-cream flavor electric. And at the risk of sounding technical, it has an ideal cookie-tocream ratio, with big chunks dispersed throughout. When you dine in, each scoop is paired with a cute rainbow sprinkle cookie, which is great for in between bites and something you didn’t even know you needed. I grab a cup or a pint a few times a week at the to-go window, and flavors change seasonally. Look out for the Rice Krispie Treat!
Best Cure for the Heat
I will admit, I never choose a snow cone or shaved ice over an ice cream cone, but a DIY dreamsicle that combines vanilla soft serve with layers of freshly puréed water ice from Jim Jim’s is a whole different story. The water ice, which is very popular in co-owner Jim Moy’s hometown of Philly, is made with puréed fruit in a margarita machine every morning. This way the flavor is blended evenly throughout. Get the sour watermelon with vanilla soft serve or your choice of ice cream in one cup. The ice cream was new last season, and the mint chip and blackberry are my favorite. Other water ice flavors include dragon’s blood, cotton candy, mango, horchata, and more. Jim Jim’s has locations on Sixth Street and at Deep Eddy Pool. With the Texas heat, you’ll be craving this duo all summer.
I found Cow Tipping on Instagram when I still lived in NYC two years ago. A jumbo stacker is the hot-ticket item, encompassing three layers of toppings (beginning at the bottom) and two layers of soft serve in between. The flavors —and very hip toppings — rotate. The It’s Your Birthday comes with homemade Funfetti cake chunks, birthday cake crumb, rainbow sprinkles, and white-chocolate sauce. The fact that you can mix in large enough cake bites that are still small enough not to overwhelm the ice cream is a champion move. A party in your mouth! If you want something boozy, go for At the Ritz with brown butter Ritz crumb, brown sugar, and hot fudge with rummy caramel sauce. Also, pick up a to-go bag of homemade cake crumbs, Southern cracker candy, and pumpkin-seed brittle to fancy your own sundae creations at home.
The South Congress Hotel has the cutest pink-and-white ice cream truck in its courtyard every summer; however, don’t expect your basic ice cream pops here. Go for the raspberry-cheesecake bar made with raspberry sherbet and cream cheese ice cream swirled with a raspberry ripple and garnished with a tricolor, hard magic shell. If you’re into fruity treats, the dairy-free strawberry-rhubarb sorbet is delightful. The winning ticket, though, is the cherry-cheesecake ice cream, as you can taste the graham cracker crust on each crumb!