1.) Do you really need an official excuse to cool off in steamy July with refreshing and delicious ice cream? 2.) Shouldn't July just be rechristened National Columbus, Ohio Month since we're flush with so much of the super-high-grade stuff?
Unless the rock you crawled out from under is still warm, no one needs to tell you about the national phenomenon that is Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. And, yeah, that groundbreaking company's deserved runaway success now includes its first out-of-state shop plus a beautiful new book.
But (heresy!) I've actually talked to people who think Jeni's is too "edgy" for their taste. Well, as I sorta mentioned before, those folks are in luck too, because there are ample wonderful ice cream producers in Columbus to please every finicky palate out there.
Here's a quick peek at an exciting new player in the frozen confection game, along with a few seasonal specials currently being scooped up by accomplished veterans.
Vienna Ice Cafe Scoop: $2.50 Pint: Not yet available
Fans of Mozart's irresistible Austrian-style baked treats can now lick up luxurious ice creams made by the company's Euro-trained pastry chefs at Mozart's newest venue called Vienna Ice Cafe.
Open less than a week and taking over the former Denise's Ice Cream space in Clintonville, Vienna Ice has a nice little patio, clever logo and about 30 flavors. Some early favorites are: the deep and dark roasted cup-of-joe notes of Coffee Kahlua; a smooth, rich and pure-tasting Caramel; a nut-tastic Pistachio gelato; an unusual, berry-ish and tangy Ruby Peach sorbet; and a bright and assertive Blood Orange sorbet. 2899 N. High St., Clintonville
Johnson's Real Ice Cream
Scoop: $2.45 Pint: $4.45
Johnson's has been keeping it real for more than 60 years. An authentic, old-fashioned ice cream parlor with a popular patio, Johnson's is a beloved place where grown-up neighbors and Little Leaguers regularly congregate for made-here excellence.
Among the shop's 70 or so flavors, some crowd-pleasing July specials are: Red, White and Blueberry, a rich, creamy and classic vanilla swirled with summertime fruit; Red Velvet Cake, with its cream-cheesy tang and chewy chunks of chocolatey cake, this wonderful treat does that chocolate chip cookie dough flavor one better; plus a neat and not-too-sweet Peach with an unexpected basil-y finish.
2728 E. Main St., Bexley 614- 231-0014 johnsonsrealicecream.com
Graeter's Scoop: $2.69
This multigenerational family brand has been pleasing sweet teeth "since 1870," as it has proudly announced inside each new Graeter's store opened. Sure, this slowly growing regional mini-chain originated in Cincinnati, but I had to include it because for many years now, their terrific shops and super-premium products have been fixtures in Columbus, too.
Here are a few limited-time scoops I recently sampled: an intense, tart and fruit-chunky Blueberry sorbet; a pleasant and sunny Peach with a longish finish; a Creamsicle-like Tangerine Cream; and a floral and smooth-textured Watermelon sorbet that positively tingles on the tongue.
Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams
Scoop: $4 Pint: $10
Somehow, as the superlative Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream company keeps getting bigger, it keeps getting better, too. I love how each beautiful new shop has its own unique look and character. And I love these just-released summertime flavors: a zingy and lovely Coriander Raspberry with just a happy hint of aromatics; the explosive fresh-fruit bomb of a Passion Fruit sorbet; a Peach Buttermilk that expertly balances the sweet with the tangy; and a truly inspired Sweet Corn and Black Raspberries. Multiple locations jenisicecreams.com