August 18

It's National Ice Cream Pie Day

Soft-Shell Shrimp. Ice Cream Pie. Mile-High Butte. Bombe. Hypnotic Desserts. Genghis Khan.

Days Until. . .

Coolinary Summer Specials End 26

Today's Flavor

Today is National Ice Cream Pie Day. The ice cream pie was most celebrated locally at the Pontchartrain Hotel, whose Caribbean Room restaurant served a classic version. The legacy continues at the hotel's latest inhabitant, Jack Rose. Mile-High Ice Cream Pie, as they called it, had layers of vanilla, chocolate, and peppermint, topped with a thick layer of meringue, then a flow of warm chocolate sauce. When I was in my early twenties I ate a whole piece once. The waiter registered astonishment and said, "It's the policy of the house that when you finish a mile-high pie, you can have another slice free!"

The Old Kitchen Sage Sez:

Birthday dinners with chills and flames
Call forth cheap thrills and easy games.
Ice cream mounds are simple to make
Open freezer, whipped cream shake,
Light the candles, sing the ditty.
Nothing to it! The smiles are pretty.

Annals Of Seafood

This is the day on which, according to local lore, the soft-shell shrimp appear in the nets of the shrimp fishermen. We know soft-shell crabs well enough, and soft-shell crawfish appear now and then. But soft-shell shrimp are almost unheard of. The probable reason: fishermen save them for themselves. Who could blame them? Although even regular shrimp shells are moderately edible (I pull the heads and legs off, but eat the rest shell and all), you can completely devour these. All you need to do is cut off the eye stalks and the beak-like rostrum and, with care, the rest is edible. Soft-shell shrimp are particularly appealing as barbecue shrimp. I have no leads for suppliers, but keep your eyes open for them.

Gourmet Gazetteer

Ice Cream Butte is a spire of rock rising between two usually-dry tributaries of the Musselshell River in Rosebud County, Montana. Drivers on I-94 can see it clearly, four miles to the north. It looks like an inverted ice cream cone. It's uninhabited, so for ice cream or anything else to eat, you need to go to Forsythe, some thirteen air miles away. A number of diners are there. I like the ring of the Top That Eatery.

Edible Dictionary

bombe, n., French--Also known as bombe glacee. An ice cream dessert molded into a dome shape, with a center made of a flavored, frozen egg-and-whipped-cream mousse. The name literally means "bomb" in French, because the molds originally used for the dessert resembled bombshells. Bombes are sometimes attractively decorated on the outside, and sometimes coated with chocolate shells. It's not uncommon for a bombe to be served with a flaming top or even sparklers. Commander's Palace once served a modified bombe called the celebration dessert, but it would be thought of as corny now.

Restaurant Namesakes

Genghis Khan died today in 1224, after conquering more land than any single person in history. A long-running restaurant bearing his name, owned by violinist Henry Lee, operated for twenty-five years on Tulane Avenue. It moved downtown, but didn't last long there.

Food Namesakes

The Spitfire Grill won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival today in 1996. . . Dan Quayle was nominated as George Bush I's running mate, right here in New Orleans, on this date in 1988. . . Comic actress Elayne Boosler was born today in 1952. . . In the Athens Olympics in 2004, Paul Hamm won the men's gymnastics all-around gold medal by the closest margin in history. . . Former basketball pro Fat Lever had the Big Tipoff today in 1960.

Words To Eat By

"Health food may be good for the conscience but Oreos taste a hell of a lot better."--Robert Redford, born today in 1937.

Words To Drink By

"Drink today, and drown all sorrow;
You shall perhaps not do it tomorrow;
Best, while you have it, use your breath;
There is no drinking after death."--Ben Jonson.