Texans were devastated when Blue Bell Ice Cream – the Lone Star state’s frozen treat staple – was recalled. A summer without classic “Homemade Vanilla” ice cream was a summer that people in several places in the U.S. couldn’t fathom living through. But Texas is still intact after the so-called “Blue Bell drought,” and is expected to be one of the first states to have the ice cream back in local freezers by Aug. 31. But until then, where should Houston get its ice cream fix?
As a native Texan, the fact that Blue Bell is one of the state’s most valuable exports cannot be denied. Without their array of frozen, dairy delights, I had time to think of all the other choices in the supermarket freezer sections across the state. Vermont’s Ben and Jerry’s has always been a favorite of mine, but I couldn’t ruin my reputation as a Texan by admitting that. So instead I found an alternative to the Brenham-based brand by looking locally.
Fat Cat Creamery, located cozily in the Heights, is the “purrfect” answer to the Texas Blue Bell monopoly. Locally sourced and lovingly crafted, their small-batch ice cream is the cat’s meow (and provides an opportunity to make cat puns). If the decor of the teeny-tiny nook isn’t enough to reel someone in, watch their eyes light up when they see the treats on display. While seasonal flavors like the dairy-free “I’m in love with tha Ava-Coco” were tempting enough to get a free sample, a year-round favorite like “Buttermilk Strawberry” was my top pick. And to prove my point further, the “Mexican Vanilla” at Fat Cat is smooth, sweet and doesn’t have the factory-made taste that Blue Bell always leaves in my mouth.
The heaping scoop of Fat Cat’s vanilla ice cream I ordered to star in my coke float immediately passed the taste test with flying colors. The effervescence of the soda lifted the ice cream in a manner so heavenly that choir angels could be heard as it frothed and fizzed. Well worth the $6.99, this magical ice cream experience was all-natural, and not some factory experiment served in a sundae dish.
Local desserts at places like Fat Cat Creamery should be appreciated for the obvious love and care put into making them. While Blue Bell is a cheap and satisfying fix, it feels like settling after sipping a Fat Cat coke-and-vanilla float. It’s hard to go back to the freezer section after experiencing Fat Cat’s finest batch – which happens to be every batch.