Big Chill Ice Cream

The Great Toronto Ice Cream Sundae Challenge: Watermelon Pistachio

Gelato is generally the cooled, spoonable treat of choice amongst those in Little Italy. And while gelato shops have been plentiful in recent memory, The Big Chill has proven that the corner of College and Manning is all about frozen fare. Formerly a tiny little hole in the wall tucked away at the side of Manning, the success of the shop has allowed it to move front and center on College and add some crucial seating. At the Big Chill, customers can treat themselves to anything from a simple old scoop in a house made waffle cone to milkshakes, smoothies, fro-yo, waffles and homemade ice cream cakes. But I didn't stop by to try any of those things, I'm interested in one thing and one thing only--sundaes.

And lucky me, at The Big Chill I've finally found the one thing missing from my sundaes up until this point. A proper sundae glass, the kind found in the made-up 1950's diners that you see in movies. I'm not sure if my want for these things is based on real nostalgia or a lifetime of taught yearnings for a simpler time from back before I was born. Either way, The Big Chill provides.

ICE CREAM: 4/5

My two-scoop sundae came with one pistachio and one watermelon sherbet. Prior to my visit, I was completely unaware of the difference between sherbet and sorbet and had naively assumed they were one in the same. Turns out - as I'm sure most of the ice cream eating population already knows - that sherbet is not dairy free. More of a fruit based ice cream, albeit with about half the amount of cream as the regular stuff, it's a hybrid creature of sorts.

I felt a bit foolish after asking such a question because after one bite of my watermelon sherbet it should have been clear. Nothing this creamy could be dairy free. But, at the same time, it doesn't really have that thick milky mouthfeel that you'll find with ice cream. It's much more refreshing. Watermelon sherbet? Definite yes.

The pistachio held up just as well, it was a wonderful nutty compliment to the watermelon. Perhaps the best thing though, was the way the two flavours worked together. When the two mixed, it was a culinary creation all its own.

TOPPINGS: 3/5

The options are plentiful at The Big Chill. Anything from Smarties and Skor pieces to strawberries, peaches and pineapple and a selection of nuts. There's a whole wall of toppings to choose from and the possible combinations are seemingly endless.

My sundae was topped with a sprinkling of peanuts, a squirt of whipped cream and a bite-sized oreo as the cherry on top. An exercise in elegance and restraint--as much as an ice cream sundae can be of course.

PRESENTATION: 5/5

This is where The Big Chill gets it all right. A proper, classic sundae glass, one scoop pressed all the way inside with the second sitting on top as a half sphere. A few simple toppings that accent the ice cream without masking it. Bright colours and a touch of whipped cream on top. The thing is a photographers dream, I almost didn't want to ruin it. Thankfully I consider myself a writer first and a photographer second, so in the name of journalism I dove right in.

VALUE: 4/5

A small sundae will run you $5.95 while a regular one is $6.95. Not bad for two generous scoops of good quality ice cream and a wide selection of toppings.

OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: 4/5

The true success of this sundae is in the ice cream itself. Not its creaminess or either particular flavour, but in the way the two work together. When building a sundae the temptation is always to just give it the works, pile on every piece of chocolate, fruit and sticky sweet sauce available with no thought as to the final outcome, or what goes together. After all, this is an ice cream sundae--it all goes together! And while that may be true to an extent, it never hurts to apply a bit of culinary forethought to a dish, even one made of ice cream.

That seems to be what we have here. As I mentioned, the best part of this sundae happens right in the middle, where the two flavours touch. As they melt together, the resulting taste is something even better than either pistachio ice cream or watermelon sherbet on its own. The peanuts and whipped cream simply act as an accent, a garnish to round things out. Total success!

TOTAL SCORE: 20/25 (80%)

Previously in this series:

Day 1: Dutch Dreams
Day 2:Greg's


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