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Friends in Heat Are Friends in Sweets

Alexandria’s ice cream parlors provide hot spots for cool times.

What’s the secret to good ice cream?

For Jose Cerda, it’s a question of taste. "It's the chunks vs. bits,” said Cerda, new co-owner of the Ben & Jerry’s on Union Street. “Plus we offer a fun experience for our customers.

First-time visitors to the chain break out in smiles, he said, when they look aat the list of flavors available, and hit on “Chunky Monkey” and “Phish Food.” “That is part of the fun," said Cerda.

He’s been in Alexandria for less than a year, and in that time he’s witnessed more snow and rain in three seasons than in a lifetime in Florida. But Cerda is happy to be here and is enjoying the challenges of his new location.

ICE CREAM SHOPS also get a whimsical touch on King Street.

A rocking polar bear with a frozen vanilla custard cone greets customers at the Scoop Grill on lower King St. The Grill offers a variety of frozen delectables including frozen yogurt, frozen custard and homemade ice cream.

Down the street, the ice cream’s also homemade at Pop’s Old Fashioned Ice Cream Company, with recipes culled from Schneider’s Bakery on Georgia Avenue in Washington, D.C. The bakery was renowned for the ice cream it produced, held by some to be the best in the city. Eleanor Roosevelt served it White House guests.

Pop, father of the owner's late husband, wrote down the recipes and kept them for almost 60 years. Now the shop operates as an old-fashioned ice cream parlor, making all ice cream on the premises. Diners at the Fish Market may order their desserts from Pops menu.

ON THE AVENUE in Del Ray, newcomer the Sundae Times serves up scoops, sodas, floats, shakes, splits and sundaes featuring ice cream that Gifford’s made famous.

Customers have made the store feel welcome in the hot weather, and this summer’s most popular flavors have been mint chip and peanut butter chocolate chip, said store manager Laura Wheeler.

The walls of the ice cream parlor feature the works of local artists. This month’s art is by Diana Gamerman.