Holy heatwave, Stamford. I’m all for super steamy summer days, but every once in a while, a girl’s gotta take a minute and cool off.
There was one sure-fire cure for blistering heat when I was growing up; my mom would roll into the driveway on the sweatiest days of the summer, and upon stepping into our kitchen would hold her pointer finger to her lips and coax me back outside and into her passenger’s seat for our secret ice cream missions. Her MG only fit two, so we’d keep it a secret from my dad and older sister. When we reached my favorite ice cream stop, we’d scan the sundae board for our favorite flavors before settling on our perennial picks. She’d have the mint-chocolate chip in a cone, and I’d go for the moosetracks in a sugar cone.
When the heat began to peak here last week, I became antsy as I tried to find the perfect place to sate my sweet tooth and cool down my body temperature at the same time. I tried the Dairy Queen on Summer Street. Don’t get me wrong, I was pleased with my vanilla soft-serve coated in rainbow sprinkles, but the line was freakishly long, and at the end of the day Dairy Queen seems like more of a mall treat than a sidewalk stop. So I was a little let down after my first cone of 2011.
Then last week, a friend of mine suggested Sunny Daes on Shippan Avenue. I’m so glad he did.
I pulled up to Sunny Daes at about 2 p.m. Monday, and spotted a mother-daughter pair on what looked like a secret mission, licking away at their cones beneath one of the eight umbrella-covered tables outside the ice cream stand, and several other customers milling around. But when I went inside, the only one there was the owner’s brother Jeff Keskin, who used the lull to guide me through their selection.
The ice cream stand, which opened in 1999, is the first of five Sunny Daes in Fairfield County — there are two in Fairfield, one in Trumbull and one in Westport — and boasts coolers of home-made gelato as well as home-made ice cream. Yeah. I said homemade.
The Gelato: They have about a dozen flavors of gelato, including several fruit flavors, but I’m a die-hard sucker for the chocolate, which is both rich and creamy — way creamier than the hand-packed pints of gelato I buy at Whole Foods. But enough about the gelato, let’s get to the real stuff.
The cone: Before I had a chance to inspect the contents of the hard ice cream cooler, I noticed the lineup of cones at my eye level. They have the classic cake cones, as well as sugar cones and (my personal favorite) sugar cones dipped in chocolate and coated with rainbow sprinkles.
The ice cream: I obviously opted for moosetracks ice cream to see how Sunny Daes stacks up to my hometown favorites. They more than met my high expectations. Their hard ice cream isn’t really hard at all. It’s been whipped into a texture somewhere between the traditional scoopable ice cream and soft-serve. It’s still firm enough to stay on the cone, but way more lickable than traditional hard ice cream.
Sunny Dae’s, located at 633 Shippan Ave., is open all year round. Hours: Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Friday, Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Got a favorite summer snack stop you want to recommend for the LBC? Leave your suggestions below.