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Medium Dawn Felagund of the Fountain

The Weekend

The (Cyber) Bag of Weasels

bread and puppet




"About as much fun as a bag of weasels"...when I first saw this Irish adage, it made me think of the life of a writer: sometimes perilous, sometimes painful, certainly interesting. My paper journal has always been called "The Bag of Weasels." This is the Bag of Weasels' online home.

The Weekend

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liger
Friday, I woke up with the dreadful cold that would then haunt me for days to come. Thinking that if I ignored it, it would go away, I went to work as usual. I kept my Friday-night plans with Bobby as usual. We went out to dinner and were planning on trying Cold Stone Creamery afterward (to check out the competition, right?) Except that after finishing dinner, I started getting bad chills, and I thought it was best to take a raincheck on a frozen dessert. So we went home and watched Napoleon Dynamite.

(Hence the icon. It's a liger. It's, like, my favorite animal. It's a cross between and lion and a tiger, bred for skills in magic. *snickers*)

Apparently ligers really exist. So it seems a girl can even learn something from Napoleon Dynamite. Whodda thunk it? (Although it seems that real ligers are not bred for skills in magic.)

Saturday, Bobby's teammates and one of my sole female friends who is not family came over for the day. We walked around Ellicott City, had an early supper, and finally went to Cold Stone Creamery.


It was the first time for all of us. We were all Cold Stone virgins, as Cindy so aptly put it. But Cold Stone is all I ever hear people talk about in the way of ice cream. As soon as they find out that I am a hopeful ice cream entrpreneur myself: "Oh! Have you ever had Cold Stone?? It is the best!!!" So of course, I was eager to try it.

Their selling point is "mix-ins": They will smoosh whatever toppings you want directly into whatever ice cream flavors you want. I'd had mix-ins once before in Atlantic City without being particularly impressed, but then again, that wasn't Cold Stone, and Cold Stone is apparently the best.

When we went in, the line was so long that it doubled back inside the store. So we got at the end of it--after figuring out where the end of it was--and tried to figure out what we wanted to order.

Some thoughts (to show what a nerd I am about my ice cream):
  • The menu was not set up well at all. Half of it was at the front of the store. Half of it was at the back. Nowhere did they list their flavors or toppings and--with the impressive throng of people waiting to order, blocking the view of the ice cream cabinets--it was nearly impossible to tell what they had. So despite the fact that they "customize," good luck figure what the hell your options are.

  • When we had moved forward about four steps, two of the four employees working stopped working and started singing, dancing, and banging ice cream spades together. Andy muttered to me, "I'm tempted to not eat here, just because they're singing." Now there is a place in the Inner Harbor called The Fudgery, famous for the fact that their employees sing while they work, the key words being while they work. But these girls stopped working--despite the twenty-or-so people in line, and started in on their mediocre version of entertainment. (The Fudgery singers are also excellent singers. I could belt it out about as well as these girls could, and that wasn't saying a whole lot.) So if you want your employees to sing songs about your company, accompanied by naught but two ice cream spades, fine. Hey, Waffle House has a good half-dozen songs on the jukebox about Waffle House. But, please, multitask? Or wait until the line is gone to start the entertaiment?

  • I'm still not impressed by mix-ins. I say, gimme a good ol' fashioned sundae and have done with it. Sundaes, if made properly, should have the wet toppings marbled throughout and enough space to smoosh in the dry toppings. Sundaes also make a much nicer presentation than an abortive blob of ice cream with foreign matter sprinkled throughout. Furthermore, wet mix-ins--like the caramel I had in mine--when smooshed so thoroughly into a ball of ice cream, basically cease to exist. Cindy and I both had caramel in our ice cream, and neither of us could taste it. Sundaes, on the other hand, if made properly, allow a ribbon of topping to flow from the top of the glass to the bottom, meaning that you get a dose of topping in each bite...and it's enough to taste.

  • Cindy and Bobby both got chocolate-dipped waffle cones. They looked awesome, and if I had been hungrier, I probably would have gotten one too. Halfway through, though, Cindy had barely touched hers, and as she finished her ice cream, began pondering it reluctantly. Finally, she apologized to Bobby (who had paid for us all), saying that she couldn't eat it because she didn't like it. I asked, "What's wrong with it?" and she said, "The chocolate has no flavor." Bobby--who had finished his--said that he noticed the same thing, so I stole a piece of Cindy's and...YECH!! It really didn't have flavor; it was like a mix of chocolate and chalk. Bleh. (And we paid a dollar more for it too. Double bleh.)

  • My white chocolate ice cream and my caramel are both superior. And I don't really feel it's bragging to say that. (Not like I could taste much of the caramel...but what I could taste was not as good as the stuff I make at home.) The white chocolate ice cream was too sweet, and I like white chocolate.

So...it was okay. Just okay. Not worth the price or the wait, but I give them credit for an interesting idea if not perfect execution.

Nelyo's will not have mix-ins. I'm not impressed by them, and I love the opportunities for unique presentation that sundaes allow. (Also, I don't like the notion of working with an ice cream spade. Maybe because I never learned how to use one for scooping, it seems very imprecise and prone to waste. It's hard enough to learn portioning with a scoop.)


Meanwhile, in historic Ellicott City, there is a restaurant storefront for lease. I whimper whenever I pass it. I want it soooo badly! But I don't think I could afford the price tag, and I don't have nearly enough to bribe a bank to give me a loan. What could I offer them? "Please, take my 2000 Suzuki Esteem with 70K miles on it!" "Please, take my costume jewelry collection!" "Please, take my pet unicorn/mascot!" (Yeah right...Nelyo's not going anywhere!)

Yesterday, I went to the candy-supply store. You know the saying, "Like a kid in a candy store"? It should be "Like Dawn Felagund in a candy-supply store"! I got so many ideas and could have spent $200...but I held myself to $37. And bought only what I needed. And a mold for making rollerskate-shaped chocolate lollipops, but I could not pass on that one!

Today: work. Boring. My cold is almost gone except for a nagging cough, but I'd sooner have that than a dripping faucet-nose. Bobby and I went out to lunch at The Piece for our fifth great experience in a row.

Last night, of course, to make up for the fact that I socialized all weekend and paid them no attention, the muses got revenge on me. By keeping me awake. For almost three hours.

Grrrr...muses!
  • I've never had a mix-in (and I don't feel like I'm missing it either btw). To me, the philosophy of why it doesn't work seems similar to the philosophy of why I don't generally like McFlurries/ Cyclones/ Friend-Zeeeeees/ whatever... you lose the subtle nuances of flavour in both your ice cream and your topping. Like, a vanilla Cyclone with chocolate syrup becomes... *drumroll*

    ...chocolate ice cream. :-|

    Now there are exceptions, and I think caramel is a notable one IF there's enough that you can taste it (which obviously there wasn't), and I feel like I could get into the idea of chunk toppings like Oreos mixed in my ice cream, but I hear ya on the presentation too. Let's face it, how many people point to a pretty sundae and say "I want THAT", versus a brown blob of something?

    Yeah, that's what I thought. Presentation sells ice cream, so stick with sundaes, dearest Fela. :)

    I hope you feel better :(. I was sorry to hear you'll be missing Teh Pasta Night. We need to hookup sometime this week and work out plans for Thursday though, if you think you'll be up to it.
    • Hail, fellow ice cream nerd! :^D

      I agree about the whole McFlurry craze too. I tried a few of the comparable item at The Piece and was never impressed. Hot toppings--like caramel or fudge--make the soft serve a mess too. I think it was a trend, though. People order it because it's the "cool" thing right now. People used to order them at The Piece and not even know what they were ordering.

      "What kind do you want?"

      "Ummm...vanilla?"

      *facepalm*

      Caramel might work better because it's viscuous, almost a solid (especially if it's room temp or cold). I'm also less averse to dry toppings in them, but since I don't generally like dry toppings in ice cream, there ya go.

      I should be up for Thursday. :) I've been coming to work, and if I'm coming to work, then I'm sure as hell going to have a good time after work! Cold or no cold. Actually, the biggest obstacle right now remains Erin: Erin had to have emergency surgery last night. I'll email you about it. :^/
  • We don't have singing servers here...it's an interesting concept. Maybe so I don't get on the wrong side of the in-laws by buying from the competition, you could sing and serve ice cream instead? :-P *whispers* I've heard your white chocolate and caramel are much better :-D
    • Hehe...thanks! They are. ;)

      (And that's really not that much of a compliment to me to say that, unfortunately!)

      I don't like the notion of singing servers. I could deal with it at The Fudgery, but when people start breaking out songs about the place they work.... o.O
  • "Do you take it over any sweet jumps?"

    I agree that Cold Stone is...meh. Expensive. Gimme Walrus any day! I like mix-ins sometimes, but I usually only get them on vacations. The only thing that is funny about Cold Stone (or was it Marble Slab?? Either way, expensive "brand name" ice cream place), is one time my dad ordered Whoppers as a mix-in, and the server guy got really excited and yelled "WHOPPERS!!!" and did a little happy dance. It was hilarious. But there was no singing or wasting of time while a bunch of people waited.

    muses got revenge on me

    *stifles laughter* That's why, when I went out socializing this weekend, I left them to find their way back from Winter Park! They'll probably arrive tomorrow. :P
    • "Do you take it over any sweet jumps?"

      *sporfle*

      "You got like three feet of air."

      I agree that Cold Stone is...meh.

      Here I thought I was committing ice cream sacrilege to think so, but it seems that others agree. I've never even heard of Walrus or Marble Slab; those must not have made it to the east coast yet...or at least the Baltimore/DC metro!

      That's why, when I went out socializing this weekend, I left them to find their way back from Winter Park! They'll probably arrive tomorrow.

      *ponders muses*

      I wonder how long it would take them to walk back from Belair....

      The problem is that I have so many that they're hard to lose. And the Midhavens muses tend to be very clingy (unlike the Silmarillion muses, who will go off on their own for days at a time). I think I'm going to have to get a Club Wagon just to haul them all around!

      Actually, the muses were very nice to me last night. So now I feel kinda bad.
      • I've never even heard of Walrus or Marble Slab; those must not have made it to the east coast yet...or at least the Baltimore/DC metro!

        Walrus, so far as I know, is a one-shop place here in College Town. Good ice cream, and I don't think I've paid more than $2.50. And you pay by weight, so at least if you get jipped on ice cream, you pay less!

        Marble Slab is kind of like Cold Stone...It'll probably make its way north eventually...

        I think I'm going to have to get a Club Wagon just to haul them all around!

        LOL!!

        Actually, the muses were very nice to me last night. So now I feel kinda bad.

        Aww...I get the feeling that my muses will decide that sliding down mountains is better than dragging themselves back here...:P
  • I had Cold Stone once and I was not impressed, either. The ice cream was meh and, as you say, the mix-ins were barely noticeable. I wouldn't go there again except in an emergency. So, no, don't be like them!
    • It's funny because everyone I'd talked to practically went into convulsions at the mention of Cold Stone and how good they are. But it seems that online people agree more with me. Meh, exactly.

      But, yeah, I think I've definitely settled on not having mix-ins. :)
      • Maybe it's just that your neighbourhood needs a good independent icecream store to make people realize what they're missing?
        • I would agree with that...of course, I'm slightly biased. ;)

          It always amazes me that the historic district does not have an ice cream shop. It seems the perfect place for it: lots of foot traffic, very tourist-heavy...it just looks like the sort of place that needs an ice cream shop. Apparently, there used to be one there, but it's gone now.

          Which makes passing that storefront for lease soooo difficult.
  • Here where I live toppings were virtually unheard of in "buy-to-go" ice-cream shops until just a few years ago, and I'm still not fond of toppings at all. I want good, nice icecream, not some toppings that have been out in a bowl on the counter and going stale (and possibly sneezed into) for weeks. EEK.

    In summer I'll have to go and take pictures of the "Eishaus" (Icehouse) in Erlangen for you. It started out tiny - just two small rooms. Handmade icecream, large portions, fresh toppings. Good prices. Even in the first summer the queues were often like 50 metres long *outside* the shop. Now they have three or four shops all over the city!

    If you want to I can make a list of the different flavours they offer, too.
    • I want good, nice icecream, not some toppings that have been out in a bowl on the counter and going stale (and possibly sneezed into) for weeks. EEK.

      Eek exactly! As far as I know, all of our local health departments require all food to be covered, which removes the sneeze/dust/foreign matter factor, at least. (And perhaps most importantly!) But I know where you're coming from with the staleness. Most places don't bother to rotate their product or they keep it in too large of quantities. (I speak from experience here, unfortunately!) And a lot of that stuff doesn't have a long shelf life. :^/

      I like wet toppings like caramel and fudge but tend not to prefer sprinkling bits of candy over ice cream. Besides, the candy freezes and gets really hard and hurts to chew.

      In summer I'll have to go and take pictures of the "Eishaus" (Icehouse) in Erlangen for you.

      That would be awesome! As would a flavor list. See, this is the great thing about online friends. Now I can check out the competition overseas too! :^D
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