Many of the 599,657 of us who live in the District are not originally from the area, and sometimes feel pangs of nostalgia for the places where we grew up, evidenced, for example, by the inner thrill you get every time you come across your state’s street. Luckily, many establishments around here seek to capitalize on this dual sense of displacement and state-pride, such as the Louisiana-themed restaurants and the sudden influx of Texas-style BBQ.
But nobody has more cheesehead pride (besides, arguably, the Hawk ‘N Dove for Packers games) than Dairy Godmother, the ten-year-old home of real Wisconsin-style custard. The store is located in Del Ray, a small and charming nook of Alexandria whose motto is “where Main Street still exists.” It sure feels like it—indeed, with a monthly local art show and a weekly farmer’s market, I might go so far as to say this little neighborhood is the Takoma Park of Virginia (featuring trees, families, and a local natural pet food store).
Though it tastes quite similar to ice cream, real custard has serious specifications and requires quite the technique. According to the Food and Drug Administration, frozen custard contains 1.4% egg yolk and 10% percent milkfat, making it richer and legally different from ice cream (see hilariously detailed and somewhat dismaying government specifications here). Additionally, custard is made with a special machine that adds less air than ice cream, and in the end allows is be slowly splatted out of a refrigerated tube into 5-gallon containers from which it is served.
Every day, Dairy Godmother features chocolate and vanilla custards, as well as exotic flavors of the day like coconut cream, banana pudding, and cinnamon toast. A handy “flavor of the day forecast” is posted online monthly so you can pick your poison. In addition to all forms of custard (cup, cone, sundae), Dairy Godmother also has sorbets, custard cakes, and treats for dogs.
There is one other frozen custard place in DC, Dickey’s Frozen Custard at 17 and I NW, and a few out towards the far reaches of the beltway. But based on the Wisconsin and badger-themed decorations of Dairy Godmother, you’ll have to visit this establishment in particular to get a sense of real Wisconsin during these long and hot summer days!
To visit: 10A bus from the Pentagon Metro, or Arlington transit (DASH) from a few different Virginia metro locations. 2310 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria, 703-683-7767. Open Sundays and Mondays 12-9pm, Wednesdays-Saturdays 12-1opm.