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November 21, 2004

Get a life - 11/19/04

I often question whether I am actually intelligent or just a good test-taker, and today's experience proves I must be the latter. According to the "Wine IQ Quiz" (courtesy of FoodTV), I am a Savvy Sipper—which is clearly a stretch if not an outright lie. I couldn't even list all of the varieties of Boone's Farm, let alone explain the scents of a Burgundy or what to pair with a nice piece of sea bass. Nonetheless, the score 7 out of 10 stares back at me, a grade more impressive than the ones achieved on my French 101 quizzes.

Although I am doubtful about my future as a sommelier, I do at least feel confident that I know exactly what to drink with ice cream: Merlot. Though this may seem an odd combination, I know for a fact that it is delicious, thanks to the expert ice cream makers at Bobtail Soda Fountain. At Bobtail, they put the vino right in their ice cream mix, creating a fine concoction, "Merlot Signature Sunset," sprinkled with dark chocolate pieces. All the flavors—which range from basic strawberry to a French vanilla/butter fudge combination called Daley Fudge Addiction—are made right in house. Other freezer offerings include seasonal specialties (like pumpkin and cinnamon for fall and eggnog for the holidays) as well as sorbets, low-fat yogurts, and a low-carb vanilla for the real crazies. If the thought of indulging in a few scoops of White Chocolate Winter Commute as the temperatures get too cold for comfort makes you shiver, Bobtail Soda Fountain also has an array of warmer treats. This is not to say that you shouldn't order them a la mode, though! Warm cherry, apple, and blueberry pie and Belgian waffles with caramel only get better when you add the ice cream and toppings.

The place itself emits warmth to offset its frosty desserts. Open only since April, the old-fashioned feel makes you feel like it's been there forever. The high-back booths, wrought-iron fans, and behind-the-counter relics (like old-time milk bottles and sundae glasses) lay on the nostalgia, but they are counter-balanced by modern Ikea-style lamps and an up-to-date flat-screen TV. Also, the corner store is equipped with a free WiFi network.

Opening shop at 7 a.m. on Sundays, Bobtail is the perfect place to do some studying while sipping on a warm, spiced cider and enjoying the simpler things in life. From the signs in the windows to the black-and-white photos on the walls, the attitude of Bobtail is reminiscent of a Mom & Pop shop. That might just be because it is rooted in one. Co-founder Jeffrey Wilcoxon based his endeavor on Johnson's Real Ice Cream, run by his family back in Ohio.

Where else did Jeffrey and partner Chris Hill learn their business skills? At the GSB, of course—where they attended until graduating last winter. The two know how to take care of business, but they also know how to take care of their customers. Pointing out a framed picture of his own grandfather mixing ice cream, Wilcoxon says he wants to make sure they get the store just right in hopes of soon launching other locations, like one near Ohio State's campus. Now that he's left the world of the Reg—and entered the realm of "Next Door to an Angel"—the only test Wilcoxon has to worry about is the taste test, and, as far as I'm concerned, he's aced that. Even without the curve.