SUMMER TREAT: SHAKE IT UP
You feeling it yet? Car seats like the surface of the sun; house windows sweating from within. I think it's officially the dog days of summer in Tampa Bay, time for something quenching, cooling and refreshing.
Rhode Islanders call them cabinets. Other New Englanders may refer to them as velvets or frappes. In the United Kingdom they are thickshakes. Ray Kroc of McDonald's fame was the one to distribute multimixers across the country in the 1950s and thus popularize what is most commonly known in these parts as the milk shake. But we don't all mean the same thing when we moon over a great shake. There are dessert shakes, beverage shakes, "dietetic" meal-substitution shakes, late-night shakes and drive-through shakes consumed so swiftly brain freeze is a foregone conclusion.
CRAZY SHAKES REVOLUTION ICE CREAM CO.:
Bill Workman and his wife, Leslie, were smitten by Northern ice cream shops doing unique, savory-inspired flavors. Bill bought a home ice cream maker and started experimenting: There was Pump Up the Yam, a sweet potato casserole ice cream; one with blue cheese, apple and bacon; and another with pumpkin and goat cheese. After getting resoundingly positive feedback (well, maybe a few head scratches), he took the plunge and opened a shop. Really, this place is kooks. Customers can get into the spirit with their own inventions, maybe a shake of Eurotrash (Nutella ice cream with Biscoff cookie crumbles) mated with the Seaward (salted caramel, coffee, cinnamon and cardamom). 220 W Brandon Blvd., Brandon; (813) 857-3250. A new Tampa location opened last week at 6701 N Florida Ave.
NO-FRILLS SHAKES MUNCH'S SUNDRIES AND RESTAURANT:
This is the only one on the list where Guy Fieri left his seal of approval. Straight out of 1952 and festooned with historic Lakewood Elementary class pictures, not much changes at Munch's even after a visit from the spiky-haired host of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives. The milk shakes are still made the old-fashioned way on a Hamilton Beach multimixer that sounds like a buzz saw. There aren't a lot of flavor choices, but a good chocolate malted doesn't require many alternatives. 3920 Sixth St. S, St. Petersburg; (727) 896-5972.
Right next door to the Sunset Vistas Beachfront Suites, the Shake Shop serves the archetypal sand-between-your-toes summer milk shake, suitable for Instagram shots of your Florida lifestyle. Prices are modest, and the shakes aren't the super-thick kind causing tinnitus when straw-sucked. On a hot day lines can be long, but a straight-up chocolate malted is worth waiting for. Here since 1997, the owners are also wizards of fruit parfaits and butterscotch sundaes. For my money, the mint chocolate chip shake, with an extra squirt of chocolate syrup, is aces. 11920 Gulf Blvd., Treasure Island.
SHAKES WITH ATMOSPHERE PARKESDALE FARM MARKET:
Founded by strawberry grower Roy Parke in the 1950s, it's a kitschy red-and-white candy-striped paean to strawberries. Pilgrims come by the busload and by car with Indiana or even Ontario plates to stand in line for strawberry shortcake and strawberry shakes. Waiting in line surely increases the anticipation. So does the fact that the Food Network singled out Parkesdale as having one of the 10 best desserts in the country. There are too many potted plants and an awful lot of pictures of folks such as George H.W. Bush and Jeb Bush, but this tinsel-fringed Garden of Eatin' is a convivial place to slurp down a bright pink shake thick with hunks of local strawberry, the straw utterly clogging from time to time. 3702 W Baker St., Plant City; (813) 752-0502.
STEAK N SHAKE:
This burger franchise sells 60 million shakes a year in more than 500 locations in the United States. Back in 1934 the lineup was chocolate, vanilla and strawberry, with side-by-sides — those magical, gravity-defying shakes with two flavors split perfectly vertically down the middle — added in 2003. Think banocolate or strawnilla, and if you need these decoded, you don't deserve one. The other 20 or so specialty shakes and rotating array of seasonal flavors explain why their shakes were voted tops by Zagat. They're made the old-fashioned way: ice cream scooped into a metal container, real milk and flavored syrups, then into a multimixer. The thick shake is poured into a frosted, footed glass with a rosette of whipped cream and a cherry. 2315 S Dale Mabry Highway, Tampa; (813) 251-3350. See steaknshake.com for more locations.