Ice cream, gelato, Frappuccino, sorbetto, frogurto — I mean, um, frozen yogurt — custard, sherbet, smoothies ... the list of cold, sweet things that we like to straw-suck, spoon, sip, lick and savor goes on.

Most of those frigid goodies, those containing dairy at least, are distinguished by their butterfat content, which determines texture most of all. You otherwise may care for a chocolate this versus vanilla that if you're counting calories or something, and you might reach for an oddball like Boba Tea for added textural exploration, or just a new experience. The point is, desserts of these sorts have never been so diverse, and we're likely to never tire of any of these options.

Of course, there's always the option for none of the above. So while Monika and I froze our teeth this week, Bryce elected to sit down for Mexican.


Colorado Custard Company

906 Manitou Ave., #100, Manitou Springs, 685-5400,

It's not ice cream, it's custard, and there's a difference. Custard is made with egg yolks; packed at 20 degrees above zero, not 10 below; and whipped with about 20 percent less air. All this makes for a denser, creamier mouth-feel and arguably more potential for flavor perception. With the same 14 percent butterfat as premium ice cream, it ain't claimin' to be healthy — just damn delicious.

Two-year-old CCC, the independent alternative to Culver's or Good Times, offers either a house-mixed vanilla or chocolate base turned into sundaes, shakes, malts and the like, with 24 topping options. We split a custom Avalanche (one topping blended in, $3.22; 50 cents for each additional) with peanut butter and chocolate chips. It didn't beat my favorite Josh & John's scoop, but it was a velvety delight. — Matthew Schniper


Premier Coffee

4797 Barnes Road, 597-4551

Years ago, my first sample proved warm and unappetizing. But, enchanted by Premier's colorful banner, I had to give Boba Tea another try.

Originally from Taiwan, these supposedly refreshing fruit and milk smoothies (also called Bubble Teas), are known for packing in both flavor and their signature tapioca balls. Bryan Shoesmith, my server at Premier, gave me a quick explanation: Brownish gray beads are tossed into boiling water and allowed to bloom into rich, purple pearls, while a smoothie base (six flavors available) is blended with ice. Once combined, you have the Boba.

My frosty cold, sweet, creamy and tangy 16-ounce mixed berry ($3.30) converted me. I concede that I got a kick out of the chewy treats shooting up the oversized straw. You could even say that this time, I had a ball. — Monika Mitchell Randall


El Padrino Mexicano

13425 Voyager Pkwy., 487-2727,

Unfortunate, but the gorgeous décor belies offerings that just don't impress.

El Padrino's margarita ($5.50) said a lot about sweet and sour, but only a little about tequila. The beginning chips seemed straight from a supermarket, while the mild salsa was more tomato sauce than not; the hotter variety is definitely a better bet. (We would've liked to confirm more details, but a few calls trying to reach owner Darin Vasquez only yielded responses that we'd have to call when he was there.)

A guacamole and shredded pork burrito ($7.95 at lunch) came smothered in a medium-spicy, gravy-like green chili — no harm, no foul here. But the steak fajitas ($9.99) were average, if chewy; odd, considering our server assured us that a specific cut of beef (which one, he didn't know) was used to ensure tenderness. — Bryce Crawford

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