Frida Bistro splits for the border with plantains and tequila.
You don't need an excuse to crave ice cream, but July is National Ice Cream Month. National Ice Cream Day is July 21. Utah has a great reputation for ice cream consumption-eighth in the nation-but also, unfortunately, a statistically apparent preference for cheap ice cream. We're going to ignore that in these pages and go straight to the most extravagant ice cream consumption possible: the banana split.
DOING THE SPLIT
There are countless variations on the ice cream sundae, but few except the deepest chocoholic would argue that the banana split is the crown of sundae creations. In 1904, when the first split was served by David Evans Strickler in a Latrobe, Penn., pharmacy soda fountain, it cost 10 cents-twice the price of a regular sundae. The concoction was quickly copied and hugely popularized by Walgreen's. Now it's been adopted by high-end chefs and global kitchens. In D.C.'s Central restaurant, chef Michael Richard's deconstructed banana split has become famous. In Utah, we have our own contenders.
COPPER ONION'S BANANA SPLIT
Chef Ryan Lowder knows no bounds: He stuffs Chinese dumplings with duck confit and makes his poutine with oxtail stew. So of course his banana split is over the top. Housemade vanilla and chocolate ice creams topped with caramel, chocolate sauce made from Valrhona chocolate, sprinkled with marcona almonds and crushed Valrhona chocolate, make the Copper Split an epicurean delight worthy to follow a supper of bone marrow or mussels. Plus, it comes with a blanket of whipped cream and the necessary cherry on top. 111 E. Broadway~ SLC~ 801-355-3282
THE SAFFRON SPLIT
In keeping with the exotic flavors of South India, Saffron Valley East India Cafe's Saffron Split is topped with pistachios and saffron threads. 26 E. St.~ SLC~ 801-203-3325
THE PLATANO MACHO SPLIT
Frida Bistro pastry chef Peter Korth sautes baby plantains in butter and brown sugar, Bananas Foster-style, substituting anejo tequila for the rum. On top: homemade ice creams tres leches (made with sweetened condensed milk, like the famous cake), chocolate (made from Mexican chocolate pasteles) and strawberry. Diners add their own toppings: toasted coconut, pepita brittle, Mexican chocolate and cajeta, the divine Mexican goats' milk caramel. The Platano Macho costs $12 and serves four people. At least. Frida Bistro 545 W. 700 South SLC 801-983-6692
Saffron Valley goes with pistachios and saffron threads.
The All-Utah Spilt
Ice cream is the Utahn cocktail, so serve your split in a margarita glass.
Start with three scoops of Aggieice cream. Utah is one of the only states with a major university in the ice cream biz. 750 N. 1200 East, Logan, 435-797-2109.
Top with chocolate sauce made with Utah chocolate according to this recipe from Ruth Kendrick, owner of Chocolot, chocolot.com.
And caramel sauce-Hatch Family Chocolates will sell you a pint to go. 376 8th Ave., SLC, 801-532-4912
And Chad's Raspberry Sauce, available at Smith's or order it at chadsraspberrykitchen.com
Sprinkle with chopped almonds from Utah's Nutty Guys.
Surround the ice cream with a split banana. There are no Utah bananas. Don't let anyone tell you different.
Top with whipped cream and a cherry.
What's the diff?
ICE CREAM is based on custard-milk, cream, sugar and (typically) eggyolks. Churning this base as it cools gives it a smooth texture and incorporates air into the ice cream. The finished product is smooth, light-textured and creamy. BEST IN UTAH: Hatch Family Chocolates, 376 8th Ave., SLC, 801-532-4912
GELATO is made with milk, not cream and contains less air because it's churned slower and frozen at a slightly warmer temperature. Less air means the gelato is more dense. The higher freezing temperature means that gelato is silkier. BEST IN UTAH: Vinto, 418 E. 200 South, SLC, 801-539-9999
SORBETS are dairy and egg-free and made with fruit juice and simple syrup and churned like ice cream. BEST IN UTAH: Sorbetto at Dolcetti Gelato, 900 S. 900 East, SLC, 801-485-3254
FROZEN YOGURT is ice cream with a yogurt base; the yogurt may be live culture or not. BEST IN UTAH: Golden Spoon, 1224 Draper Parkway, Draper, 801-542-0136
NITRO ICE CREAM is the best invention to come out of the mostly wacky molecular gastronomy. It's simply cream, sweetener and whatever flavoring you want, flash-frozen with liquid nitrogen. Do not try this at home. BEST IN UTAH: Sub-Zero, 5612 S. 900, East, Murray, 801-263-0406
SHAVED ICE, the Hawaiian treat, has become an integral part of Utah summers. Strictly seasonal. BEST IN UTAH: Wasatch Pops & Snow Shack, 3981 S. Wasatch Blvd., SLC, 801-842-9167