Billed as "America's ice cream co-op," KaleidoScoops began doling out its signature hand-dipped ice cream at the turn of the millennium. The co-op, formed by a group of independent-minded former franchisees, now boasts several locations, reflecting the co-op's diversity with dozens of varied ice-cream flavors that include such no-sugar-added selections as amaretto almond, chocolate mint, and coffee fudge. Customers can combine flavors in specialty sundaes and banana splits or shakes, malts, and KaleidoChill coffee drinks. The shop's staff also creates supreme ice-cream cakes, and members of the KaleidoScoops' birthday club receive discounted cake rates and space-age party hats certified by NASA to prevent brain freeze.
At Tea With Thee By Victoria, it's hard to decide on the main attraction: it could be the teas themselves, the gourmet food, or the elegant atmosphere. The teas are eclectic, ranging from a fruity cherry-ginger-orange brew to a Cold Comfort blend, designed to neutralize sniffles. The food consists of soups and salads, as well as tearoom classics: scones, finger sandwiches, and dainty sweets, which range from cupcakes to tea-infused chocolates. And the shop's flower-patterned china and three-tiered trays add a touch of understated glamour, which is only enhanced by the shop's decorations, including wintertime's Christmas trees.
Chef Margaret Hale, a graduate of Culinard, the Culinary Institute of Virginia College, packs a grocery cart full of experience as she teaches wannabe Wolfgangs and baby Batalis the tricks for radiating kitchen brilliance like the melody of a freshly tuned didgeridoo. The Chef Next Door makes cooking approachable by coming to your home with a class customized to accommodate personal preferences and any dietary restrictions. Using her ingredients and your cookware, Chef Hale will execute a one- to two-hour interactive workshop for you and up to three others. Jump in on the action like a stage diver at a knitting convention, learning the full potential of your own kitchen equipment and appliances, then bask in the warm, appetizing afterglow of your hard work.
Yogurt Twists opens its frozen-yogurt vault and well-stocked toppings bar to visitors, who swirl and decorate their own custom healthy treats. A bank of eight machines churn 16 flavors of the sweet semi-solid, whose creamy peaks of white chocolate mousse or York Peppermint Patty contain active cultures that the National Yogurt Association asserts will boost the immune system and brain-freeze resistance. Drizzle a deep cup of rocky road with liquid marshmallow and chopped pecans, or bombard it with a hail of nuts, fresh-cut fruit, and candy-bar crumbles ($0.45/oz.). Sorbet flavors such as watermelon and key lime pie invite sampling from dairy-free diners and lactose-intolerant DJs. In addition to determining their portions, patrons may whittle down their treat's calorie profile with low-fat or nonfat yogurt and perk up palates with two rich, no-sugar-added flavors. Painted in sherbet orange and pastel aqua, the airy shop boasts shiny tables and bright-orange chairs for up to 40 sets of sweet teeth.
Rolo's opened in 1991 as homage to a train trip taken by Huntsville restaurateur Chuck, and his son, Rolo. Reportedly, the two were on the way to New Orleans for a football game, when Rolo looked to his father and said, "Trains keep attention for the kids and the grandparents." A light bulb went off in Chuck?s head??he would open a homestyle restaurant paying tribute to the train-riding days of yore. He'd call it Rolo's Cafe.
In a burst of whistles and chugs, a multicolored model train can be seen rounding a wooden track suspended high above the dining room. The locomotive circulates the aromas of lightly fried pond-raised catfish, juicy grilled steak, and housemade peach cobbler. Breakfast biscuits arrive to tables saturated in signature chocolate gravy for pairing with sugar-cured ham and fresh hush puppies. After polishing off a slow-smoked pork chop, patrons can make choo choo noises on train station-style wooden benches, or peruse the room's vintage train signs, framed articles, and photos of locomotives.
When Tasia Malakasis walked into a gourmet food shop in New York City, she unexpectedly found herself face to face with her future. It was cheese?specifically, Belle Chevre, a French-style goat cheese made by hand in her home state of Alabama. It wasn't long before she was journeying down south to study the art of cheese-making. She became a genuine protege, and eventually, when the company's owner retired, she took over. Since 1989, the company has racked up numerous awards and accolades for its fine cheese, which include a pimento chevre, a Montrachet-style goat cheese, and a mint julep-inspired Southen Belle goat cheese. Their rustic creamery, housed in the old town cotton warehouse, offers both guided and self-guided tours, samples at the tasting bar, and a chance to meet the goats that help make the cheese by wrapping it up with their dexterous hooves.