My family takes our ice cream very seriously. While in high school my father worked at a shop called Van Dyke's in Ridgewood, New Jersey. As children we learned all about how Van Dyke's made ice cream and I never tired of stories about behind the scenes at an cream store. I was fascinated with dry ice.
We always stopped for ice cream and grew intimately acquainted with watching pewter scoops meet frozen, flavored cream from the other side of a ice cream case.
When we'd visit southern CA we pined for Balboa Bars. They are a vanilla ice cream brick, on a wooden stick, dipped in chocolate and then rolled in roasted peanuts. I think you could get fancy with other ingredients, jimmies and such but we stayed pretty close to the original. Cold Stone Creamery has got nothing on them.
Everyone had their signature flavor. My sister Molly loved chocolate chip mint, always. Kate, somewhat older and wiser, was into exotics like peanut butter and chocolate or coffee. I liked vanilla. I think as a kid it was something that I could fully count on. Early on I was wild: I chose flavors like bubblegum and rocky road. But to my dismay I would find that the soft pieces of chiclets or marshmallow had taken on a strange gummy texture, ruining the whole experience. Inclusions were dangerous. Vanilla (French, if available, was okay) on a cake cone was my thing.
This 4th of July was festive with guests and visitors. I spruced up vanilla ice cream with a home made chocolate sauce and a few almonds. Alan's right again: it's still a classic.