Rows of spiralling colours, with peaks standing as proud as the mountains we will climb in two weeks time. Sauces swirling, usual flavours enticing. Bailey's, Amaretto, Fererro Rocher, gummy bear or as many types of chocolate as there are types of chocolate. The kids stand for hours, peering in, paralysed by choice.
Eis cafés are in my opinion the best invention in
At the front of the café, the individual flavours are displayed in their smart trays. But this isn't what most people come for. Here ice cream is a whole meal. Literally. Locals and tourists make for the menu's, and greedily select. Will it be spaghetti carbonara -piles of vanilla, somehow shaped like a plate of spaghetti, with a combination of fruity flavours making up the sauce? Or pizza, with a pastry base and kiwi and pineapple taking the place of salami and onion. Or perhaps something with chips? Or a concoction for the children in the shape of an animal or cartoon character. Pinocchio's head, with smarties for eyes and a cone for his hat? Or a traditional Sunday in a towering glass, washed down with ice cold water?
However different these inventive ice creams are, there's one thing they all have in common; the price. On a budget, we are in the habit of choosing a small cone of something nice and refusing the more expensive variety of refreshment. But sometimes this isn't allowed. Sometimes an ice cream sundae is the minimum purchase, even though the window display is full of cones; it all depends on the café owner.
After a soggy wild camp one night, we were desperate for breakfast to warm us up. "You can have anything you like," we told the children, who pedalled even harder every time we said it. Ten kilometres on, we came to a small town, where the only shop open was an eis café. "You said we can have anything we want," Cameron reminded us, choosing a huge bumble bee. It took pride of place in the centre of the table, an artistic mix of striped vanilla, peach and melon home made ice creams, with liquorice for antennae and M and M's for eyes. Between us we polished it off, and then reverted to cones in the future after seeing the bill.
The ice cream may have quickly disappeared but the phrase stuck. If I want Matthew to push up a hill or go faster on the flat in return for a small reward I shout 'ice cream breakfast' and get an instant response.
Yesterday was a hot and punishing day. On the outskirts of
Ten kilometres from the city, we stumbled across a town and tumbled into the eis café. Stuart opened a menu. "Let's have something special," he said, and asked me to order a 'burger and chips,' as well as three cones. I talked to the waiter, ordering the meal and three small cones of chocolate ice cream as well as a glass of iced water for me. Hannah and Cameron were overtired, overheated and hungry and both took a strop. Hannah was the worst so I took her to the toilet to wash her face and cool down. When I returned the table was packed with plates. The meals were undeniably beautiful. The burger; a rich mix of chocolate and truffle ice cream, carefully shaped and sprinkled with chocolate to appear grilled. The chips, extra frozen chunks of vanilla, surrounding the plate like perfectly cooked French fries. The vegetables, covered in a rich raspberry sauce to resemble ketchup. But the trouble was there were three of them, each accompanied by a large glass of sparkling water. "I've tried to send them back, but he says you ordered them," Stuart said helplessly as the children, instantly cheered up, picked up a spoon and heartily dug in. I glanced at the waiter, who looked directly back at me, as if waiting for the row. I rummaged around in my very limited arsenal of German words, and realised I just didn't have the vocabulary for an argument. Also, the children were happy. I shrugged, picked up a spoon, and tucked into my unusual lunch. The most expensive burger and chips we've ever had? Perhaps. But very memorable. Powered by our ice cream breakfast lunch, we were in