After seeing all the hype in the media about Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams seasonal flavor, Influenza Sorbet, Dana and I decided to take a Sunday drive to Chagrin Falls, Ohio. This quaint town in Northeastern Ohio has the closest Jeni’s store to us. It is approximately 45 minutes away so we decided to make a day of it, have brunch and take photos of the frozen falls on the Chagrin River.
After a very snowy and scenic drive south on Route 306 we came into the heart of Chagrin Falls. There were not very many people on the street on this cold day and we found a parking place right in front of our brunch destination, the Fresh Start Diner. There was a full house at 11:00 AM but we found two open seats at the counter. Service was fast and friendly. We quickly had our buckwheat pancakes, fruit and sausage before us. We ordered the short stack but these pancakes were plate size!
The waitress told me, with a smile, that if we didn’t eat them all we had to wash dishes. I said you might as well give me an apron right now. They were delicious but half came home in a box. Buckwheat pancakes are denser than white flour pancakes and absorb syrup like a sponge. Next time I’ll try the buckwheat waffle, but only one.
We moved our car further down the street and parked on the bridge over the Chagrin River. It was beautiful, completely frozen in the middle with cascading water on both ends. Although the air temperature was 22 degrees, it felt much colder standing over that icy water.
The Jeni’s store was right across the street. We were the only patrons in the place and when we told the sales girls what we were looking for they shook their head apologetically. One told us, “We had to pull that flavor off the shelves for repackaging. Some people might think it was an actual cure for the flu.” Really. You may remember that this flavor is made with cayenne pepper, ginger, Maker’s Mark bourbon, honey, orange and lemon juices. Word is that it is a tasty mix that makes your tongue tingle. Some of you have already found out that it is being repackaged as “Hot Toddy Sorbet.” She told us they would probably have it Monday or Tuesday and encouraged us to try anything or everything else they had. We were disappointed but any time you go looking for “seasonal” or “limited” you might not find it. Having never had any Jeni’s flavors before, we cheerfully plunged right in and tried several.
A very unusual one was the Queen City Cayenne. A nod to Cincinnati Chili, it was very hot! Even with a creamy chocolate surrounding the cayenne it was too much for me. I also tasted Goat Cheese with Red Cherries and found that I do not like the taste of goat cheese in ice cream either.
After tasting about half the flavors in the case, we each made a choice. Dana’s favorite was Cherry Lambic Sorbet, made with dark cherries and Lambic Beer. It did have a faintly beery head, light like a wheat beer, with cherries mixed in. Since I am not a beer drinker, it was not my favorite. I instead chose Whiskey and Pecans, made with Oyo Whisky (distilled in Columbus). It tasted just like you would expect, a heady oak barrel-aged flavor combined with nutty sweet pecans.
The sales girls were so nice to us, and felt so bad that we had driven all the way from Mentor (!) that they gave us a coupon for a free scoop. We decided to save it for a future visit since we had already sampled what probably was the equivalent of a scoop apiece.
Jeni’s ice creams and sorbets are somewhat pricey at $10/pint. But like craft beers, Jeni’s ice creams are made in small batches with premium ingredients. For us it will be a sometime treat. We might even, sometime, get to taste the elusive Hot Toddy Sorbet!