Anyone who has grown up or lived for a period of time in the Midwest knows the glories of frozen custard. My wife, Megan, and I met in Milwaukee when both of us did volunteer service in the inner-city, and some of our first dates were at frozen custard shops -- like Kopps
down on 27th Street, whose shop exterior was filmed and used as Arnolds in the TV show "Happy Days." East Coasters know the mysteries of frozen custard as well. However, Southerners and Southwesters, unless they had relatives or friends overcome their fears of eating something called "custard" and drag them to a custard shop, usually are unaware of this amazing delight.
Which brings us to the questions: What is frozen custard, and why should DCF readers care? Well, the second question is easily answered first. Frozen custard has come to Albuquerque, and can now delight the palate of residents of the Duke City. Where should people stampede? To Chillz, on Central Avenue, right across from UNM and right next to Walker's Popcorn
Next, what is frozen custard? I admit, when I first heard the words frozen custard many years ago, I thought of some tapioca-type mess, but frozen. In fact, Chillz owner Kurt Nilson says he has to deal with that kind of misperception all the time. He said that people often ask him if it's like flan. It's not. Frozen custard is like a really rich ice cream. Kurt explains that frozen custard has less air inside it than ice cream. Custard also has less fat than ice cream. At Chillz, the frozen custard is made fresh in small batches so that you are getting a fresh frozen treat any time you step in. Kurt told me that at many chain ice cream stores, the ice cream has been often sitting around for up to four months before it is served.
At Chillz, like many frozen custard places around the country, the main flavors consist of vanilla and chocolate. You can spruce up these basic flavors with your choices of toppings. I got vanilla with toffee chips, and Megan got vanilla with almond slivers. We both later rued our choices when Kurt had us taste his raspberry topping, made from fresh raspberries from his mother's house in Edgewood. There is also a flavor of the day, which is prominently listed on a calendar by the register and made available for you to take home. When we went, the flavor was butter pecan, and we were able to try a sample. Today's flavor (Sunday, July 19) is Blueberry, and other flavors coming this month are Root Beer, Mint Chocolate Chip, Key Lime. and Mocha, among others.
Practically everything is made fresh at Chillz. The waffle cones are made in shop, and he also makes fresh waffles which can serve as a base for your custard. One of the most popular treats is a fresh made waffle topped with a scoop of vanilla custard and fresh raspberry sauce.
Chillz also has a challenge. If you can eat 8 scoops of ice cream on 8 waffle cones with 8 toppings in 30 minutes or less, it's free. Megan asked Kurt if anyone has done it, and he said that one guy came close - getting 6 scoops down before the time expired. But, Kurt said he managed to finished it all. I can guarantee that I would not be able to do it - and I'm the guy who at an Illinois Supper Club astounded the waitress when I not only finished the Pork 'O Plenty Plate, but also bread, a salad, my dessert and my companion's dessert. After I finished, the waitress exclaimed "We get big old farm boys in here and I've never seen anyone do that before." Alas, those were my younger and more svelte days. Today, I can only dream about doing 8 scoops of custard in one sitting.
Kurt went to school in St. Louis, where frozen custard is the king of snack treats, but he is not from a frozen custard-making family. He simply got tired of waiting around for someone to bring frozen custard to Albuquerque. When a frozen custard shop opened in Las Cruces, he figured he had to act. He went back to St. Louis and took classes on making frozen custard and other treats at a culinary institute. He started his own custard shop here in early June.
Chillz is at 2720 Central SE, Suite D. It is open Monday - Saturday from 11 a.m. - 10 p.m. and on Sunday from 12 p.m. - 8 p.m. Kurt maintains a daily flavor update on both MySpace
. If you go in, tell him you read about his shop here on the DCF - perhaps he'll keep us up-to-date about his flavors at our site, too!