Kilwin's Ice Cream Shoppe (St. Joseph, Mich.)

As I walked up to Kilwin's, clutching the tattered page from Time Out Chicago that described it, a high school-aged kid was in the window making waffle cones. The aroma of homemade candies and fudge wafted out the door, mingling with the lake breeze and smell of sunscreen on the swimsuit-clad patrons seated at the outdoor tables. Two enormous ice cream cases sat at the back of the store; that was to be my Mecca. This place puts Coldstone to shame. Hard.

After surveying the 30-some flavors on offer, I settled on two scoops (Jesus. Mistake.) of that handmade, creamy goodness. Plain ol' chocolate and cake batter. The most glorious cake batter ice cream I've ever tasted, Pale yellow, with flakes of semisweet chocolate and little chunks of real yellow cake — I couldn't even finish it. I wasn't worthy of its deliciousness. Well. Yeah.

I was in heaven until I started looking a little more closely at my surroundings. And, yes, I get that St. Joseph is a small town and that there's bound to be things like this around... But it's a little freaky in there. Navy blue floral wallpaper, that signature 1980s medium-brown woodwork, teddy bears perched menacingly everywhere, and little signs. "My way is the highway. — God" or "We need to talk. — God."


When Scott Joplin's "The Entertainer" started playing in MIDI form out of some bizarre piece of merchandise, I knew it was time to take my leave. So, this otherworldly ice cream is, perhaps, best enjoyed with eyes blissfully closed. Outside.