I recently had the pleasure of trying the Ice Cream Sandwich at Fuse Bistro in Lowell, Massachusetts. I thought it would be a fancy ice cream sandwich, but still an ice cream sandwich that you could pick up and eat with your hands. It was quite a bit more! It was served on a long, rectangular plate. There were three toffee cookies spaced evenly on the plate, and scoops of salted caramel ice cream were placed in between the cookies. The cookies were topped with whipped cream, the plate was drizzled in hot fudge, and there was a piece of walnut brittle placed as a garnish in the center. It was quite an elaborate take on the ice cream sandwich! It looked lovely and it tasted even better. The cookies were buttery and just the right consistency; not too soft and not too crunchy. The salted caramel ice cream was delicious; the right combination of bitter and sweet, and I just wished there had been more of it. The whipped cream and hot fudge were nice accompaniments. The walnut brittle, although tasty, was difficult to chew and proved to be more of a distraction. The rest of the dessert, however, was fantastic.
I have always been a fan of ice cream sandwiches. There is something very comforting about the standard ice cream sandwich--vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two rectangular layers of thin chocolate cake. Growing up in the 1970's, that was the one and only ice cream sandwich. In the early '80's the chipwich made its appearance, and I was an instant fan. Two chocolate chip cookies, vanilla ice cream in the middle, and chocolate chips all along the sides. The chipwich was like a delicacy; it was more expensive, and you didn't get it very often. It was like the champagne of ice cream sandwiches.
I have a chipwich story that I would like to share. It's kind of a bittersweet story.
I was almost sixteen years old at the time. On one ordinary morning while getting ready for school, I found out that something awful had happened. An older cousin had been hurt badly, and my parents were leaving to be with my aunt and uncle. My brother, sister, and I went to school not knowing how things would turn out, and feeling quite powerless to do anything at all. It was a difficult day, and when we arrived home, we learned that our cousin had passed.
It was tragic and heartbreaking. It is always tragic and heartbreaking to learn of such a loss, but harder perhaps when you are almost sixteen and your cousin isn't that many years older than you, and nothing like this has ever happened before.
My parents were still with my aunt and uncle, but my grandparents were at home, watching my younger sister and my brother and I. My sister was upstairs with my grandparents, and I was in my room, having a very hard time with the news. My brother, thirteen at the time, came into my room. We didn't speak much. But at some point, I remember that he left. The ice cream truck was on our street. I don't remember if we heard it, or if he went outside and saw the truck. But he left my room, and then he came back. And silently, he handed me a chipwich.
I took it and I ate the whole thing. I remember how I felt when I ate it. I remember thinking, I'm going to keep eating this chipwich and maybe I will feel better.
When I look back on that day, I see loss and pain. But I also see a brother trying to comfort his sister, in the best way that he knows how. And that makes me want to cry for a different reason.
Yes, dessert itself can be a comfort. But I think, more than that, the act of sharing a special dessert at just the right moment, can be a comfort. I know it was for me.
Have a sweet and comforting week.