Australia, I know you think you’re fancy with your N2 Extreme Gelato, but Cedar City was making liquid nitrogen ice cream long before you thought it was cool.
Sub Zero Ice Cream may not have the Ferrero Reveal in its arsenal, but it does have a panoply of dairy and vegan bases, flavours, and mix-ins that allow for a near-infinite number of customised ice creams.
Yes, I did just say vegan liquid nitrogen ice cream. Just, um, don’t ask me whether it’s any good. No, really. Please don’t. Wait, did you just ask me? I told you not to. Well, fine. But we should probably start at the beginning…
This is a story of innocence lost. Of innocence lost, but perspicacity gained. It is the story of an ice cream adventure that started with a bang, turned into whimpers, scrabbled for dignity amidst cascading quips, and eventually clawed its way back to smiles via humble acquiescence to our own personal Mr. Miyagi.
Forgive us, Sub Zero workers. We knew not the folly of our ways when we marched in, heads high, demanding coconut- and almond-based ice cream. We should have trusted your raised brows and gentle guidance, rather than stubbornly ignoring your barely-repressed sighs.
But how were we to know? We thought that coconut milk with maple and mocha, with cashews and sprinkles and chocolate, sounded great. Look how excited I was!
But then we took our first spoonfuls, and suddenly we were confused. At first, no one said a word. I remember taking a second bite before looking up, furtively, trying to gauge the reaction of the boys across from me. Finally, someone spoke.
“Does this taste like… nothing to you?”
With those words, the dam broke.
“These taste like less than nothing. I don’t understand how this is possible.”
“Where has the flavour gone? I saw them put syrup in, I swear. And look! Cashews! And chocolate! I can see them, but I can’t taste them. How? Why? How can there be no flavour at all when we saw them put ingredients in?”
“This is the black hole of ice cream. It sucks away all goodness, all light, all joy.”
“I can think of so many things that taste better than this.”
“Soda fountain soda when the syrup has run out.”
Readers, we were so sad. We were so terribly, terribly sad.
Luckily for Sub Zero, the spectacular Ryan and his magnificent friend are braver souls than I, and convinced me we should politely explain our plight to the Sub Zero workers and request do-overs.
When we did so, the guy who initially served us let out a huff. “I tried to warn you,” he said. “I tried to tell you not to get the non-dairy base unless you were allergic to pleasure*”.
We humbly bowed our heads, and asked him to teach us the ways of liquid nitrogen ice cream. Apparently, this simply meant “choose the premium base you dingbats**”.
* Okay, okay, he said “to dairy”, but I like my version better.
** He definitely didn’t call us dingbats.
As you can see, our second attempt at customised liquid nitrogen ice cream left us far happier than the first. Ryan’s maple cashew ice cream actually tasted of maple and cashew, while my pistachio ice cream with marshmallows made me squeak with delight (the frozen marshmallows were just like those in Lucky Charms).
Perhaps, as in life overall, it is through experiencing failure, loss, and heartbreak that we come to truly value the giddy exhilaration of momentary delight. Without the crushing disappointment of the non-dairy ice cream, we may not have fully appreciated the sweet, sweet relief of a dessert that actually tasted… nice (and like it existed).
Oh, for the record, I did later discover how to make the vegan ice cream at Sub Zero delicious, courtesy of my ever-so-wise-and-wondrous friend Siobian:
You smother it in hot fudge. Really, really smother it in (non-vegan) hot fudge.
I, however, skipped the ice cream on my next trip to that Cedar City strip mall.
When in doubt, Starbucks, right? Because there ain’t no party like a Frappuccino and petite vanilla bean scone party. (Not really. But hey, at least I didn’t have to order this treat twice.)