Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Dutch Dreams


It's summer! Look at that sun! Forget those thunderstorms (it's all in your head)!
I am very happy to shepherd in this season with a very indulgent ice cream feature. Yes, I know it's mid June and I'm a bit late to the party. By now ice cream is probably old news. We've moved on to the hiding in our apartments with the AC cranked on high while bemoaning the heat and haze part of summer, eh?

There is many an ice cream parlour to choose from in Toronto. Not only do we have our imports and chains, but there are fresh local brands to choose from who make delicious hand crafted ices, sorbets and gelato. With so much to choose from, how to narrow it down and pick only one for this feature? In the end my selection process was determined by a belated sense of patrimony. Well, I'm third generation and hardly in touch with my roots, but that touch is the Dutch touch, and it lead me to Dutch Dreams (78 Vaughan Rd, off of St. Clair), that kitsch, that shining beacon of tack. You haven't seen it? Look for the terrifying and saccharine clown figureheading the store, which is bedecked in all manner of mannequin, pennant, light, and of course, Netherlandish paraphernalia.

The other factor bringing me far from my comfort zone, other than the proximity of my friend Pietro's home, was the eternal lineup to get IN the parlour. Something good must be afoot, yes?
If only you could see my notes for this excursion. Never has my shorthand been so messy or staccato. Between balancing a dripping and weighty cone and the constant sensory overload, they're nigh illegible. Inside we crammed our not-sizable ass's into a little corner table. The walls are crammed with ornate frames and prints of the Dutch masters, the ceilings draped with colourful dolls. Delft, tiles, general Dutchery. I might have gotten overexcited. Was it the sugar, or was it the fact that so mush of this weird STUFF is familiar to me from my Oma's house? You'd be surprised, perhaps, by how correct the decorating was, right down to the clogs.


At Dutch Dreams the cones and cups start at 4$, and all of them are topped with whipped cream and fruit (strawberry, kiwiw and tinned pineapple). Harking back to what I said about my lack of attention and my crappy shorthand, the journalism behind this venture is distinctly lacking. I apologize for this shoddy accounting of prices, and lack of research in the sourcing of their ice cream! Where does it some from? I doubt it was home made. Dutch Dreams also offers sundaes, splits, shakes and familiar Dutch concessions, from stroopwaffles to rusks to instant indonesian spice packages (there is a history of colonialism there, let's not explore it). I buy some stroopwaffles, an favourite.


Molly starts us off with a single scoop cup of frozen yoghurt. At first this sounds like a dollop of healthy eating, but she DID get M&M's blended into it. The cup was on the house since their froyo machine wasn't performing to spec that night, and the end product didn't have the body one expects of frozen dessert. Machine's fail, and it was the right decision to give it on the house (there was also an offer of replacing it with something else). The flavour was very interesting. Yoghurt has a slight sour flavour that makes it taste fresh, but the sickly sweetness of candy made my taste buds flop around with entertainment. Served with a wedge of wafflecone.

Pietro needed to be persuaded to have ice cream. He wasn't quite in the mood...I must thank him for taking one for the blog. He ordered a single scoop banana ice cream on a plain cone. The cones are big, but not freshly rolled. This MIGHT be a good thing, given the crazy line up just to get in. They are made in-house, earlier in the day perhaps. The staff could barely keep their heads above water just scooping. It's very cramped inside, with no room to shuffle. The ice cream is predictable, and pleasant.

My adventurous self was seeking greater stimulation. Without the appetite for a sundae, I ordered a single scoop of mocha almond on a special cone. The plexi separating customer from cream hosts the banks of encrusted cones (the colourful varieties include 'karfunkle co', 'coconut macaroon', 'belgian chocolate truffle', and 'wowie brownie') with their labels. I asked for a 'Nuts about Chocolate' cone, but I guess the staff don't know their own cones by name, and after a look of confusion I pointed to the pecan-studded object of my desire. I did like the ice cream, it had a strong flavour of espresso and cocoa. Very sweet. The cone was thick and I broke pieces off  like small shovels to scoop ice cream onto. Tenacity was needed to keep things from falling apart in my lap.

Though we were all happy with our selections, I would not call Dutch Dreams the best ice cream parlour in Toronto (and I would know a thing as an ex-scooper, myself). That title probably falls on Gregs, who make their own, and make it very well. Dutch Dreams does not have the same intensity of flavour, or boldness in ingredient combination. Dutch Dreams has sugary ice cream with toppings and flare. It has kitsch, and let's never underestimate presence. Go here for the experience, their generosity, for the ridiculous cone choices, the sugar, the fun.
Dutch Dreams on Urbanspoon

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