Remember the à la Mode

I realize it’s Friday so I’m rushing to write this post about all of the fun stuff we did last Saturday before it’s Saturday again. It’s important for me to write about last Saturday because it was filled with two of my favorite things: puns and gelato.

On Saturday afternoon, for the second year in a row, the Gentleman and I drove downtown for the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships. What is a Pun-Off, you ask? Here are descriptions of the two events from the official website:

Punniest of Show is usually a collection of prepared and rehearsed material incorporating strings of puns and wordplay on a theme (the audience can get) performed within 90 seconds. Often it will feature costumes, props, music, and even multiple punsters. Our judge panel is “trained” to appreciate and reward true puns, but they tend to be more tolerant of fringe wordplay and mere double entendre in this event, especially with favorable audience groans.

The Punslingers competition is conducted as a tournament and requires improvised quips on a randomly selected topic. While it is possible to practice and rehearse for this event, it involves a tremendous amount of thinking on one’s feet and a very quick tongue. Not every pun perpetrator is able to summon up disgrace under fire.

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We haven’t seen the Punniest of Show since it runs in the morning and we’re usually too busy lazy to do much on a Saturday morning. Also, the temperatures this year and last year were upwards of 90 degrees in the afternoon, so we weren’t keen on spending the whole day outside. It was a good thing I saw an intriguing sign for gelato in Republic Square Park on our way to the O. Henry Museum.

I'd like to major in AmeriCONE studies, please!

I’d like to major in AmeriCONE studies, please!

But more on that later…

Even though it was sweltering outside, we had a good time watching some of the Punslingers rounds. I really like it when the contestants go back and forth for a long time in a category because the puns become increasingly creative/bizarre/un-PC and then the judges jump in to debate whether something is or is not a pun and the whole thing is incredibly pedantic but also very silly. Some people would probably find it insufferable but, as the daughter of a poet, I guess an appreciation for puns is in my blood. The best rounds we saw were the World War II (“Stop STALIN and come up with a pun!”) and art categories (“I’m broke, I need some MONET”). I can’t remember the exact phrase but someone came up with a pun on Toulouse-Lautrec, which is impressive.

Also, they have a used book sale! And since we got there towards the end of the day we were able to take advantage of the “pay $2 to fill a bag with books” deal.

My selections

My selections

After sitting in the afternoon sun for a few hours we were ready to investigate the Gelato University tent we’d seen while driving. It turned out that Gelato University was part of a Gelato World Tour, which is a competition for gelato artisans held in cities around the world. (I have no idea why they picked Austin as the US location). The public buys tickets, samples the gelato offerings, and then votes on their favorite.

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Our tickets came with 5 tastings each. The tastings were pretty substantial but we stayed strong and finished even though we started to feel a little ill from all of the sugar. These were my tastings:

  • Salted Pecan with Montmorency Tart Cherries & Tahitian Vanilla: Apparently this was the winner, which seems odd to me because I didn’t love this one. There were a lot of flavors going on and the cherries seemed like a random addition.
  • Texan Kulfi: We both LOVED this! Per the website:

This gelato flavor we made brings a traditional Southern treat with toasted Texas Pecans, Bourbon-Whiskey blended with cream and an exotic eastern spice called cardamom. Malai Kulfi is also a traditional Indian frozen dessert. Hence the name Texan Kulfi!

I love bourbon flavored desserts and the cardamom added a really interesting spiciness. This was absolutely my favorite of the day and we both voted for it. I’m sad it didn’t win.

  • Maple Brown Butter Pecan: All of the flavors were good but it didn’t taste particularly special or unique compared to a lot of the other samples.
  • La Grande Bellezza – The Great Beauty (Avocado Basil): This had a nice, mild taste. It seemed a lot lighter and more refreshing than the other samples I had. Great for summer!
  • Goat Cheese Cashew Caramel: The Gentleman hates cheese (I KNOW, RIGHT?!) and thought this sounded gross but I really liked it. There was plenty of caramel and the goat cheese gave it a nice tartness.

I also had a taste of some of the Gentleman’s samples (like I said, these “samples” were quite substantial): Turtle (seemed pretty generic), Fior di Bronte – pure Sicilian Pistachio (good but holy pistachio, Batman! The pistachio flavor was really overwhelming), Raspberry Beet  (couldn’t taste the beet, which was good as I find them revolting), Rich Chocolate, Dark Rum & Wild Cherry (very chocolatey, could have done without the cherry– I think I just don’t like cherry desserts), and Chocolate Guinness Caramel Crunch (I can’t remember anything about this).

SO. MUCH. GELATO.

But we weren’t done with sweets for the day. After driving home and eating a quick dinner (salad for me– I felt like I needed some actual nutrients), we headed over to a friend’s house for a movie and assorted birthday desserts.

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The cake was carrot cake with cream cheese frosting from Upper Crust Bakery and it was DELICIOUS. I even got to take a slice home!

Since the Gentleman’s cheese aversion also extends to cream cheese frosting, I made some Samoa cookie bars earlier in the day. I used a hybrid of these two recipes. They came out nice and chewy and were super easy to make. Definitely a success.

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Also a success? The movie selection for our gathering on Saturday. I adore Goodfellas, and its influence here was obvious (in a good way). And I had “Live and Let Die” in my head for the rest of the weekend.

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2 Responses to Remember the à la Mode

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