Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Ambrosia Ice Cream (Sun Groves - Safety Harbor)

It's January, the thermometer is dropping all the way down into the 40s (I know, I'll get no sympathy from those of you braving single digits up North at the moment), and we here at the Canteen are contemplating ice cream - not just any ice cream, mind you, but what I deem to be the best ice cream flavor in town (with all apologies to Bern's/Publix and their respective macadamia nut ice creams, a close second in my book). If you head down Florida State Road 580 from Tampa across the causeway towards Dunedin, you'll encounter a small produce stand, warehouse, and gift shop on the south side of the street with a sign out front saying "Sun Groves", primarily known as a purveyor of fine citrus fruits since 1933. I suspect at one point this territory was flush with these types of operations that catered to tourists looking to buy into the golden myth of Florida as a land awash in freshly-squeezed orange juice; nowadays, you have to look pretty hard to find the survivors.

We speak from experience when we say that the fruit at Sun Groves is stellar (the family is currently enjoying grapefruits, orange juice, and Honey Bell oranges all purchased from the gift shop); however, let's get back to the ice cream. The shop in Safety Harbor sells about 20 different flavors and none are better in my opinion than ambrosia, which might conjure up frightening images of an atomic green Jell-o mold your Aunt Mabel used to make at holiday parties, but the Sun Groves version features ample amounts of coconut, Maraschino cherries, and tiny marshmallows mixed into a base of orange-pineapple, all the promises of a tropical vacation rolled up into one scoop.

If this is what it takes to brave January's chill, I'll gladly volunteer for the hardship...

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