Photos by: Kimberly Cadena & Julian Vu
Words by: Nora Oppenheim
This Ain’t Your Niece’s Ice Cream Social
A typical sundae this was anything but. Last Thursday, zine-fans and foodies alike gathered in the name of all things holy: ice cream, community gardens and the latest issue of The Runcible Spoon, Washington’s preeminent food zine. The zine’s name, for all those wondering, derives from a children’s story by Edward Lear, and a runcible spoon seems to be something like a spork. (For the vocab nerds among you, kicking yourselves for not knowing this word runcible – fear not, it’s a nonsense word!) In any case, the name seems to convey a multi-purpose culinary utensil, and the zine itself lives up to the name. Recipes, comics, reviews – anything that warms your palette can be found within the lovingly photocopied pages.
As could be expected from a group devoted to art, writing, food, and any combination of the above, this ice cream social elevated the genre to an expert new level. The event was held at Marion Street Intergenerational Garden, a two-rowhouses-wide space where children and adults alike get their hands dirty sowing and reaping. You may recognize the garden’s name from its recent Basil Bonanza, a basil-themed potluck followed by banished? Productions’ projection of Kurosawa’s Dreamson the garden wall. This particular evening, the children of Marion St Garden could be found on the sidewalk out front, selling purple okra and cherry tomatoes (among other delicious-looking vegetables) they’d harvested in the garden. The threat of melting ice cream was kept under control by keeping it in the freezer of one of the zine editors, who lives next-door to the garden. The open yet cozy space of the narrow lot lent a distinct garden-party feel to the evening, evoking the nostalgic life-of-leisure spirit of events like Dandies and Quaintrelles.
The event was sponsored in part by Seasonal Pantry, whose patronism took the form of donated ice cream. Seasonal Pantry is a new favorite in Shaw, a store modeled on general stores – or, at least, the feel of a general store, because no general store has this many top-notch items. Seasonal Pantry sells all manner of delicious preserves in simple but attractive jars and bottles, like lemon and tomato confits, alongside attractively displayed cans of oatmeal and tomato paste. They don’t stop at the pantry though, moving into the kitchen with butchery and, of course, ice cream, as we saw at Marion Street. Classic favorites like vanilla and chocolate were available, along with more creative ice cream flavors, ranging from fudge ribbon to basil, and some peach for good measure. One of the Runcible Spoon crew brought her own homemade ginger chocolate chip ice cream, much to the delight of anyone hovering near enough to the ice cream station to get in on it before it was all gone.
To top it all off, guests were asked to come armed with the accoutrements. The toppings table was witness to all manner ofgarnish, a veritable panoply of items to spice up (or further sweeten) the delicious ice cream. Among the spread, one could add to their ice cream anything from the group of sprinkles (all kinds!), nuts, Hershey syrups and maraschino cherries. If traditional toppings didn’t strike your fancy, you could pick from apple-o’s, gummy worms and Swedish fish. Amid these storebought items were more gourmet homemade options like lavender whipped cream, chocolate mint sauce, balsamic reduction, toasted ice cream cone bits, and macerated peach slices. And of course what summer sundae party would be complete without a variety of fresh fruit options? Containers of raspberries, blackberries, sliced strawberries and bananas dotted the toppings table as well.
Overall, the event was a great way to get people together. Not your average zine release party, there were people of all ages represented and Marion St Garden proved the perfect setting. One girl could be overheard remarking to her friend that they should have get-togethers with their own friends more often that don’t involve alcohol. The Runcible Spoon ice cream social was anything but sober though: there was plenty of ice cream and good cheer to go around.