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La dolce vita

Dine & Dash

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If you've tuned in to the growing discourse surrounding whether sugar, particularly fructose, actually is the true culprit behind much illness and disease in our society — see "Is Sugar Toxic?" in the April 13, 2011 New York Times Magazine, for a good summary — then perhaps you have limited your ice cream binges and the like.

But if you're like most of us, you've struggled to ignore your cravings altogether, and granted yourself plenty of cheats. And you haven't let the guilt sour your gut after you've pleased your tongue and brain.

This week, we've got a couple spots at which you can splurge again, and another where you can seek some refuge from the sweet stuff.

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Pikes Peak Ice Cream & Gelato

481 U.S. Hwy. 105, Monument, 313-9484, pikespeakicecream.com

Recently bought by the chocolatiers behind the Art of Chocolate (see p. 31), PPIC&G offers 20 flavors of house-made gelato, dairy-free sorbettos and a sugar-free option, next to an artisan truffle case. The gelato is made with base powders and flavorings from Italy and pasture-raised, hormone-free whole milk.

My small cup ($3.29) fit a scoop each of chocolate peanut butter cup and cappuccino crunch, both strong with almost smoky, musky dark chocolate notes from an unsweetened cocoa paste in the first, and cappuccino concentrate in the second. For truffles ($1.49 each), the Kona Salted Caramel and Peanut Butter Bomb play similar pleasant notes, with the Berries and Cream going lighter and the Sweet Heat delivering quite a fun burn. — Matthew Schniper

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Altitude Sweets Bakery

6050 N. Carefree Circle, 573-8217, altitudesweets.com

When local baker Dana Westover took over a bakery formerly known for the Eastern European specialty kolaches, customer demand warranted keeping them in her repertoire. Today, she kneads and rolls a variety of the slightly sweet dough balls stuffed with savory treats. Think homemade Hot Pockets.

Breakfast kolaches ($1.85) run the regular breakfast gamut and include a gooey Swiss and chopped ham option. A tender lunch barbecue brisket kolache ($2.50) begged for more sauce for moisture, while the oblong "pig in a blanket" with juicy Polish sausage (complete with snappy casing) was both satisfying and filling. For sweet tooths, colorful, fruit-filled kolaches (95 cents) are also available. If you take one to go, Altitude recommends about half a minute in the microwave to wake up the soft, spongy bread. — Monika Mitchell Randall

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Arabica Café

12 S. Tejon St., 471-2444, cravearabica.com

I would like to say that the transition from former Arabica Café owner Kamel Elwazeir to husband-and-wife team Jerry and Barbara Sondree has gone unnoticed, but I'd also like to say that I didn't wait 34 minutes for my beef shawarma ($6.49). And, well, I did. It would've been longer if I hadn't needed to be somewhere and notified Jerry, who'd obviously forgotten and was chatting with a co-worker.

A complimentary second order of hummus ($3.39) — we started with one for an appetizer — helped soothe the irritation, as did a profusely apologetic Jerry. But both could only help so much, as the beef was dry — as was the pita, cracking in half when folded.

The hummus was still top-notch, creamy and tangy, so there's that, at least. — Bryce Crawford

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