La Dolce Crema

During these dog days of summer, we are tired, cranky and doing anything we can think of to cool down. But cold showers and air conditioning get us only so far. We haven’t started ingesting uncooked Lean Cuisines — yet, that is — but our desire for something frosty has led us to conjure up what may be the most perfect mix of work and pleasure since the Night Ranger first started writing down her adventures. Until Labor Day, we’ll be hitting area purveyors of all things cold and sweet and letting you know what’s best. It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.

On a recent steamy evening, we headed to Balsano’s Gelato Café (428 Ward Parkway, 816-931-4010). We sampled several flavors from a selection that, we’ll be frank, would have any self-respecting Italian gellateria freaking out. Sure, traditionalists will find bacio (chocolate and hazelnut) and pistacchio, but Balsano’s also serves coffee toffee, malted milk balls and even a Butterfinger flavor. Do they even have Butterfingers in Italy? Despite our initial misgivings, we found the best to be one of the least Italian: the chocolate-chip peanut butter — it was like thick, frozen peanut-butter cookie dough kissed with chocolate. We had found our icy, sweet relief. For this week, anyway.

Starts: July 25. Daily, 2006