BY EMMA SLONINA, Staff Columnist
I think this may be my first review of a chain restaurant, albeit a very small one. Unfortunately, my favorite local ice cream stand, Han-D-Dip Dairy Barn in Livonia, isn’t open for ice cream season yet. Fortunately, I’ve been dying to try Ritter’s for years and this was the perfect excuse to take the trip out there.
From the road, it almost looks like you can go in, but it’s set up exactly like your classic ice cream stand: tables, chairs, and umbrellas outside, and order-at-the-window service.
It was by no means warm when my sister and I went this past weekend, but it was warm enough for a line, apparently. Dozens of people mulled around the windows, picking out their custard and treats.
As usual, I’d scoped out the menu beforehand. It didn’t really help me decide what I wanted, but it did help me rattle off random frozen custard facts to my sister. Did you know they serve their frozen custard at 16°F instead of the typical 10°F for regular ice cream? You can taste it better that way. Did you know that frozen custard has a little bit of egg in it (which is what makes it custard) that lowers the amount of butterfat while maintaining the creaminess? There’s less air whipped into it, so it’s denser and more intense – you can’t tell that there’s less butterfat!
I had been interested in the cappuccino brownie flavor when I’d looked online, but as soon as I got there I knew I just wanted good old-fashioned chocolate. One scoop in a cup was enough (I don’t really like cones – but their freshly-made waffle cones do look delicious!)
My sister got a cup of the sour apple Italian ice – a water and juice-based frozen dessert. I was under the impression it was just shaved ice, but they somehow freeze it while mixing the water and juice/flavoring instead of shaving the ice then flavoring it. It’s somehow utterly creamy without having any dairy in it whatsoever. The flavor was reminiscent of a Slurpee.
They also had watermelon, strawberry, mango, cherry, lemon, and root beer Italian ice, but I couldn’t convince Ali to get a scoop of watermelon as well. Fair enough – her one scoop was giant.
In addition to their frozen custard and Italian ice, they make plenty of other treats like gelati (their Italian ice layered with frozen custard), Glaciers (their take on the DQ Blizzard – but way, way better), shakes, malts, half a dozen sundaes, cappuccino and fruit smoothies, and floats.
We got a Glacier to bring home for my dad – vanilla frozen yogurt blended with Oreos, Reese’s, and Snickers. It was slightly melted by the time we got it home, but I tried a little and can say that it is ten times better than a DQ Blizzard. They packed a ton of candy and cookies into their thick, creamy custard. No skimping here!
It wasn’t particularly expensive – around $10 for all three items together. No more than Baskin Robbins or Dairy Queen, usually.
Open daily. Check ritters.com for locations and hours.
As some of you may know, I will be graduating at the end of this semester and this is my last article for the Michigan Journal. I’ve been writing since Winter 2011, consuming more calories for this column than I’d like to share.
A huge thank you goes to Arts and Entertainment Editors Nadine Zebib (2010-2011) and Tasnuba Qureshi (2011-2012) for taking care of all of my articles, as well as Editors-in-Chief Leah Johnson (2010-2011) and Samantha Elliott (2011-2012) for all of their hard work for their organization. It’s been a pleasure working with everyone.
For all my faithful readers: the status of this column is up in the air for next year, but you can always get out yourselves! Check out urbanspoon.com, thehungrydudes.com, and thedetroitfoodie.info for ideas – or better yet, just explore your neighborhood and nearby cities! Get out of your comfort zone, stay away from chains, and enjoy yourself. Bon appétit!