Tuesday, September 06, 2005

After 21 Years, Overnight Sensation
Flamingo Ice Cream

Scooped. I was scooped. One day not that long ago I drove past Flamingo #2 on Cermak near Oak Park Avenue. It had enough neon in the signs, that impressed me that there would be capital for a decent product. I made a mental note to try soon. Then, the Chicago Tribune scooped me. Reporting on this place. Discovering too a place that actually has another branch in Chicago for over 20 years. 20+ years of offering 101 flavors of Mexi-Italian style ice cream made with natural fruits and flavors. Flavors include agave, avocado, cheese, rice pudding, mamey and elote (corn). That's the ice cream. There are also a range of ices including several with boosts of salt and chile. Do not expect a lot of butterfat in the ice cream. Do not expect gelato like smoothness. The thin ice cream, however, is an excellent carrier for the flavors. Go to taste.

We got around to trying the ice cream last night. As told in the Tribune, the owner, Guadalope is part of the appeal. She spends a lot of time explaining her ice creams and offering tastes. In fact, I tasted so many, with the flavors so intense, that I got palate fatigue. She told me that the Trib tasters had water lined up between tastes. I needed some bits of bread or something.

The bad thing to say about the place is that, as I imagined, 101 flavors is too much to handle. Even an apparently fresh looking vanilla suffered a bit from freezer burn. Ice cream really benefits from freshness, and I wish they slash their daily inventory greatly.

OK, that out of the way, everything is interesting in its own way. All of the flavors come from natural sources, meaning sometimes the flavor itself may be muted, but it will always taste like something. One of my scoops was cajeta. As noted by a poster on LTHForum.com, this is not a creamy caramel. Yet the flavor of the cajeta, sugar, burnt sugar, carried the scoop. Guava was especially good as the flavor is strong. Then again, some of the ices, especially the ones with salt and spice were, as I noted, too intense.

In the annals of undiscovered, it should be noted that this place has existed on the South Side for 21 years. I'm glad it is being discovered.

Flamingos #2
6733 W Cermak Rd
Berwyn, IL

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