Friday, February 25, 2011

Gayety's Chocolates & Ice Cream

As I know I've previously stated somewhere in this blog, whenever a restaurant or food emporium located anywhere within a 30-mile radius of the Commissary gets some mainstream media attention, I usually take notice. This was the case a few months back when USA Today released its list of the top 50 ice cream parlors in the country and, to my amazement, one of them (Gayety's Chocolates and Ice Cream) was from Lansing, not the capital of Michigan in this case, but a semi-downtrodden suburb a short drive from here. I made a mental note to try it out at some future appropriate occasion and that appropriate occasion happened to be the day before Hackknifette's 2nd birthday party, when I realized that we needed ice cream to go with her cake (light bulb!). Rather than serve the average, run-of-the-mill corporate grocery ice cream tubs to our guests, why not treat them to a little premium, locally-made stuff? So, in spite of late Friday afternoon traffic risks on I-80, I loaded the progeny up in the family truckster and headed over to Lansing.

Despite being rush hour, it only took us about 20 minutes to make the journey, and (never having been there) I found downtown Lansing to be not nearly as dilapidated as I was expecting; in fact, it could have been mistaken for any number of northwest side suburbs I was used to (including Mt. Prospect, the one I grew up in). The ice cream parlor itself was practically empty when we arrived and really did look like something that time-warped out of the 1930s, with the old-time booths, brass fixtures, checkerboard floor tile, etc. According to their website, its original location used to be on the southeast side of Chicago (a neighborhood known as South Chicago) next to the now-demolished Gayety Theater on Commercial Avenue. Although it opened in 1920, it's not clear exactly when they made their way to the downtown Lansing; in any case, we live in the here and now, especially when it comes to matters involving sweets, so the kids and I took a close gander at the dizzying array of chocolates on display in the store. We ended up choosing a couple of milk chocolate peanut butter cups (for Hackknife Jr.), a few small mint meltaways (for Hackknifette), two dark chocolate almond nut clusters (for Mrs. and Hackknife and I to share), and two dark chocolate banana cremes (ditto). The chocolates weren't cheap (it set me back around $11 just for those few), but, my goodness, were they outstanding! We determined at the party the next day that the homemade ice cream was also excellent, having brought home a quart each of chocolate and vanilla, and pints of butter pecan, peppermint, and mint chocolate chip, some of which we are continuing to enjoy up to this very day.

We are fortunate to have some great ice cream shops really close by the Commissary (Sam & Jakes and the Creamery immediately come to mind), so I don't think we'll be making a lot of return trips to Lansing this summer for treats, but I suspect that one of these upcoming warm summer nights, we'll be trekking back over there for some top-shelf chocolates.....

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