My first experience with waffles and ice cream was similar to my first experience with another uncommon waffle combination.
Our Amish neighbors asked us if we liked waffles and chicken gravy. My husband said, ‘Yes, but not together.’ Our pure-hearted neighbors thought he meant, ‘We like them but don’t want to eat with you,’ and they were crushed. Turns out that a thick gravy with huge chunks of chicken poured over hot, fresh waffles was a popular meal in their tight-knit community, and they were inviting us to dinner. Once we sorted it out we enjoyed ‘breaking bread’ together, but I thought we’d never get another invitation!
Flash back, then, to when my East Coast-bred husband first introduced me to the Jersey Shore (Seaside Heights, to be specific). It was all new to me. I knew Kansas tumbleweeds and cattle drives; he knew the Atlantic Ocean, hot Italian sausage, and cheese steaks with marinara sauce.
We were walking the Boardwalk, the magnificent view of the ocean to my right and my new mother-in-law on my left. Occasionally we would stop to examine jewelry made from shells, or share a piece of pizza-by-the-slice. The smells wafting from the various vendors were enticing. One in particular began to sort itself out from the pork roll and caramelized onions, and I recognized the smell of breakfast.
Was that a waffle sandwich I just saw walk past?
And what was that filling inside it?
You’re kidding – who puts waffles and ice cream together?
Turned out it was a regular shore treat. We found it at independent stands, and watched as waffle batter ran over the sides of multiple irons, the steam rising and the counter cooks knowing exactly when to raise the lid for a beautifully done waffle.
They’d take one segment, slap a rectangle of Neapolitan ice cream on top, and then squish another piece of the hot waffle on top of that. Then they’d shove it at you and the challenge of eating it before the ice cream all melted into a soggy waffle began. The first few bites were always the best – the combination of hot and cold, with the sweet ice cream a delicious balance to the waffle. I do hear, however, that this delicacy has been modified over the years, so I may have to be content with my memories. You might also try Kohr’s Custard for a great Shore experience.
We’ve made waffles and ice cream a few times at home, but it’s just not the same without the smell of the ocean, the noise of the arcade as you walk the Boardwalk and a stop at the carousel. Those of you who are near the Jersey Shore, see what you find . . . and take a bite for me.
Photo credit: Paul K. Logsdon