Like any knight on a magical quest might, my faith wavered briefly in ever finding my Grail. I had stumbled across many fakes, frauds and fluff; disappointed, disenchanted and disgusted time and time again. There were times when I had chosen poorly and other times when I had fallen for a Pumpkin Shaped beacon. My faith grew weak and I had resolved myself that I would never find the perfect (or anywhere near perfect) pumpkin ice cream, my Holy Grail of the Holy Pumpkin Spice season.
There were no Watery Tarts throwing magical spoons at me from the Grist Mill Pond to help me on my quest. There were no great artists like Da Vinci or Charles Schultz leaving me complex codes and puzzles to help me find my way. And the Knights Templar have long been squashed and sent into hiding (perhaps with all the ice cream).
In the end, however, my quest only ever needed an unwanted and frustrated journey into the fabled, magical woods of the Poconos to the rolling mountain village of Wilkes Barre where I found the Fisher King (Pumpkin Queen?) and the Grail Castle. And then all I had to do was ask her the question…Can I have the pumpkin ice cream in a waffle cone?
The Grail castle was as modest as the Grail of Indiana Jones fame — a somewhat beaten down wooden store front set off the road looking like a construction site, called Malacari’s Ice Cream. Apparently it used to be a small market, but the rest of the store moved to a new location, leaving just the ice cream shop behind. It gave it a desolate, abandoned feeling that was completely unassuming. I almost did not stop there as I wasn’t sure if it was even open. Surely this was not a place that deserved to be the keepers of the perfect pumpkin pie ice cream? Or, perhaps, it was the perfect palace to peddle perfect pumpkin ice cream.
On their menu, among a large assortment of other flavors and concoctions, was both hard pumpkin ice cream and soft serve pumpkin ice cream. Oh the choice was a desperate one…like the German’s choice in Indiana Jones. Even though I always knew I’d end up with the soft serve, I still deliberated for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, I asked to just try a taste of the hard stuff, and yielding to soft serve. But, alas, sadly, they were sold out and only had soft serve…but I took that as a good sign.
When the girl handed me the waffle bowl full, I was a bit surprised at the color. It was barely orange and seemed more of a sand color. Nothing fake in its look. Again, I took this as a good sign and I wiped a tear from my eye.
We sat down and I anticipated hating it. I knew that once again, this was going to be just another run of the mill frozen milk with a dash of nutmeg and cloves. I knew I was destined for more disappointment, yet I anticipated that moment more than anything else in a long, long time.
I took my first taste and it…simply put…was glorious!
I could swear that I heard a choir of angels singing.
The earth trembled a bit.
A flock of pumpkin colored doves fanned out into the sky from somewhere behind me, with a cloud of glorious fall spices sprinkling from their wings.
I am even pretty sure I saw the old Knight from Indiana Jones look out from the take out window, slowly transform into the Great Pumpkin and give me a knowing nod and smile.
And all in the world was right!
The three hour round trip for an hour long soccer game was destiny bringing me home.
I was at peace!
Have you ever had a slice of pumpkin pie and just loaded it up with whipped cream? And not one of those frozen store bought pumpkin pies with generic whipped cream. I am talking about one of those dark orange – almost brown- homemade pumpkin pies that makes you forget just how stuffed you are on Thanksgiving night and makes you push the physical limits of your stomach. And I am not talking about some generic brand of whipped cream picked up from the refrigerator case at the local convenience store. I am talking about freshly made, extra thick whipped cream that could just as easily been confused for the clouds of heaven. I am asking if you have ever had pumpkin pie perfection?
This. Was. That!
Absolutely, a good pumpkin pie has that real nice thick custard texture, and while you could never get that in an ice cream, this stuff was so rich and thick, it came pretty close. You might be able to get a closer taste to this ice cream if you put vanilla ice cream on pumpkin pie, but this was much more blended together.
And it wasn’t overwhelmed by pumpkin and spices. They resisted just throwing a pie into the custard base. They resisted just dumping pumpkin pie spices into the cream. It seems like they approached this as wanting a good solid ice cream first rather than just trying to make ice cream taste like pumpkin pie (if that makes any sense). Thought and effort and probably even cream poured forth from the actual Holy Grail was put into this perfect pumpkin treat.
While I was so very disappointed to not be able to try the hard ice cream, I am hoping when we are back up there in two weeks we can make a trip there. I’ll be looking into finding some dried ice and a Yeti cooler because they sell it by the pint and half gallon!
Hell, after thinking about it so much now, I may just call out sick to work tomorrow and drive up to get some!
But my quest for the perfect pumpkin doughnut continues.
This ice cream gets the rare 8 slice of pumpkin pie rating. My scale is 0-8 pumpkin pie slices with 8 being my mom’s pumpkin bread and 0 being the metal pan that pies are sold in.
Malacari’s Ice Cream is located at 80 Wilkes Barre Township Road, Wilkes Barre, PA.