Brace for a sugar rush this fall. Three recent arrivals — the Foxworth Fountain and Proper Ice Cream in Delray Beach and the Tree Cafe-Ice NY in Boca Raton — are bringing cool and creative treats to southern Palm Beach County.
Each serves ice cream, but each also brings something different to the table. Two are run by attorneys who grew tired of practicing law and followed their passion to food. The Foxworth Fountain offers shakes infused with craft beer and syringes of nonpsychoactive cannibidiol (CBD) injected into floats and sundaes. Proper Ice Cream offers modern, foodie flavors such as rosemary olive oil, black sesame, sweet-corn blueberry and raspberry basil. The Tree Café offers freshly made rolled ice cream and Asian-themed treats that should prove irresistible to Instagrammers, including a $12 “bonsai tree” dessert made from cotton candy, chocolate bark, chocolate mousse and green-tea powder.
While some regions prepare for autumn’s first chill, we in South Florida have to deal with relentless, sticky heat and the threat of hurricanes through November. Fortunately, these three new dessert shops are here to pull us through our tropical torpor. Notes from a recent tour (diabetes, here I come).
The Foxworth Fountain at Delray Shores Pharmacy
Background: This family-run pharmacy has been in business for decades and moved to bigger digs earlier this year to open an old-fashioned soda fountain and luncheonette. Pharmacist T.J. Dildine took over the drug store from his father, Thomas Sr., a few years ago and wife Rhyan Dildine runs the fountain. Rhyan practiced family law for a decade and says she would rather serve ice-cream treats to smiling kids and families than navigate ugly divorces.
Quote: “The old courthouse saying is people are on their best behavior in criminal court and at their worst in family court,” Rhyan says. “This is so much more fun.”
What’s cool: The concept is old-fashioned, but the art deco design is sleek and modern, with wooden stools along the counter and Detroit brick on the walls. Besides traditional egg creams (made with Fox’s U-bet chocolate syrup), shakes and sundaes (made with Haagen-Dazs), there are housemade fruit syrups used to make blueberry egg creams (creamy and fruity) and orange Creamsicle floats. Perhaps my favorite item was the King Is Alive sundae ($9), a tribute to Elvis Presley with housemade organic peanut butter, caramel, candied bacon, bananas and a dill pickle spear. I discovered you don’t have to be pregnant to enjoy the sweet-salty-vinegary combo. The fountain also features a 21-and-older menu featuring craft-beer shakes ($10), and sodas and sundaes boosted with shots of CBD ($4 extra), the nonhallucinogenic extract from cannabis plants that supposedly brings therapeutic benefits. Rhyan Dildine says some elderly customers come several times a week for CBD shakes, and they swear it helps combat anxiety, insomnia and joint inflammation. I took a few sips from a float and definitely could taste it (an earthy, patchouli flavor) and felt as mellow as one could after ingesting 100 grams of sugar.
What’s hot: There is more to the Foxworth Fountain than ice cream and sweets — the eatery boasts an impressive breakfast and lunch menu (served until 3 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday) that features organic oatmeal, eggs, toasts, paninis, sandwiches and salads. I had a very good Croque Madame ($12), the classic baked ham, Gruyere and Bechamel sandwich topped with a fried egg.
The Foxworth Fountain at Delray Shores Pharmacy, 124 NE Fifth Ave., Delray Beach, 561-295-7632, DelrayShoresPharmacy.com. The fountain is open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday and 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday. The kitchen is open for breakfast and lunch 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday.
Proper Ice Cream
Background: Native New Yorker Rick Felberbaum, 61, spent 32 years as a corporate and real estate attorney, but ice cream has always been his passion. He started making it as a hobby and then got serious when he attended Penn State University’s Ice Cream 101 program. His travels to Italy and studies led him to develop an ice cream that is fluffy, less sweet and a bit lighter (12 to 14 percent butterfat) than other premium ice creams. “Closer to gelato,” he says. His big break came when star Palm Beach chef Clay Conley tasted and loved his product. Felberbaum spent seven months based out of Conley’s kitchen at Buccan, then opened a small warehouse in western Delray Beach earlier this year, a wholesale operation that sold to restaurants and Joseph’s Classic Market in Boca Raton. In June, he opened his doors to the public, and the crowds have been growing and flocking ever since. A bigger store will open later this fall in downtown Delray, near the new iPic theater.
Quote: “This is crazy, ridiculous,” Felberbaum says. “I used to work 10 hours a day. Now, I’m working 16 hours a day. I used to have weekends off. Now, weekends are my busiest time. I used to be in bed every night at 9. Now, I’m just getting started with lines out the door at 9 p.m. I’m killing myself, but I’m having a ball.”
What’s cool: Felberbaum says he has developed more than 100 flavors, and the menu on the day I visited featured 54 flavors. He says he makes small batches of each every few days, and all the ice cream and toppings are housemade. The colorful, multiflavored (lavender, black vanilla) cones come from a specialty shop in Brooklyn. The patient clerks allow unlimited sampling, but Felberbaum is thinking of instituting an express line for those who know what they want. The most popular flavor is blueberry muffin, which combines fresh blueberries and cream with crumbled baked muffins. The “deep chocolate” was sinfully good, a mix of Valrhona and other chocolate.
What’s hot: The cayenne chocolate had quite the spicy kick, among the flavors that might be too bold and still need tweaking. Rosemary olive oil also was too strong (“this would be great on my grilled chicken,” a customer next to me cracked). Felberbaum says some flavors get more pronounced with freezing and aging, and herbs can vary from plant to plant. Some customers also might get worked up over the prices, with a double-scoop cone costing $9.70. Pints cost $9.99. But Felberbaum says his quality ingredients and low-volume operation are costly and that most customers find Proper Ice Cream a fair value. “You get what you pay for in this world,” Felberbaum says. “Most people are loving it.”
Proper Ice Cream, 1445 N. Congress Ave., Suite 4, Delray Beach, 561-359-3420, ProperIceCream.com. Hours are 5-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 5-10 p.m. Friday, 2-10 p.m. Saturday and 2-8 p.m. Sunday. Closed Mondays. Another store is scheduled to open later this fall at 75 SE Fourth Ave., Delray Beach.
The Tree Cafe-Ice NY
Background: Thai-born, Bronx-raised Sopanut Sopochana owned restaurants in New York and the Midwest before misfortune hit and he moved to South Florida to start over. After working at Thai Spice in Fort Lauderdale, he opened Eathai in Delray Beach two years ago and has found renewed success. The freshly made rolled ice cream with creative toppings at Eathai has been such a hit that Sopachana this month opened an Asian-themed dessert parlor near Mizner Park.
Quote: "I want people to experience how we eat in Thailand, to bring Thailand to South Florida,” Sopochana says. “We don't want to just serve a scoop of ice cream. We want to serve you art."
What’s cool: Tree Cafe-Ice NY features rolled ice cream ($5 to $9), spread thin on a cold slab like a crepe, and other baked confections, including brioche-like honey toast ($8) topped with fruit, whipped cream and ice cream and served on a wooden platter made from Thai tree trunks. Sopochana bought 20 for the new cafe. The edible bonsai tree ($12) tastes almost as good as it looks, with the nice chocolate mousse and fruit base making up for the sugary cotton-candy canopy that kids and college stoners are sure to adore.
What’s hot: Perhaps my favorite item was the “espresso cookie cups” ($5). A cookie-like shell that looks like a hollowed-out cupcake base literally holds piping-hot espresso and acts as a cup. Somehow, the thing is sturdy enough to not collapse when filled with liquid. The creation gives new meaning to the words “coffee cake.” One can sip and bite at the time. Sopochana is using premium espresso from a local roaster. I believe there was hardened chocolate coating on the inside of the cookie/cake cup, and these were so addictive I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The Tree Cafe-Ice NY, 80 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, 917-543-7176, Facebook.com/IceNYBoca. Hours are 3-11 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 3 p.m.-midnight Friday, noon-midnight Saturday and noon-10 p.m. Sunday.