We’re taking a break from our regularly scheduled feature this week, to bring you some of my favorite images from the summer. Unlike fall and winter, when we try to rationalize how splendid a bowl of squash soup or roasted root vegetable looks, this time of year, food just looks better. It’s sunnier; colors pop, and with extra long days, even a bowl of freshly-picked berries at dusk looks better than a 12-hour braised pot roast in January could ever possibly aspire to be.
Even though today’s eye candy looks pretty good any time of year, for some reason, in the middle of a 90 degree day (or beneath the neon light at a picnic table just after dark) a dish of frozen custard has extra special appeal in the summer.
I was shooting a story in suburban Mundelein last week, spending my afternoon at a Russian deli, eating cured salami, when I realized I was only minutes away from Greg’s Frozen Custard. It didn’t take much arm-twisting to get my photographer to detour 3 minutes, because at the end of the line was one of the region’s greatest turtle sundaes. At Greg’s – which looks like its been stuck in a scene from “American Graffiti”- the turtle is a true work of sweet, frozen art. They begin with the incomparable, frozen vanilla custard; never hard frozen of course, and so dense that it fools your brain into thinking its richer than even the most super premium ice cream. It’s not. But as good as a dish is by itself, the deal is sweetened with a few pumps of hot fudge, and a similar amount of lava-like caramel. Then more custard is layered on top; the two sauces make an encore appearance, along with your choice of salted nuts, almonds, pecans or Spanish peanuts, giving the sundae just the right note of saltiness, a foil – and counterbalance – to the sweet caramel and fudge. A plucked-from-the-jar cherry serves as the proverbial topping.
Your investment in this summer indulgence? $5.07 for a regular, $3.99 for a kid’s mini. At that price point, it’s more than worth the shlep from the city.
Greg’s Frozen Custard
1490 S. Lake St., Mundelein