Alexandra's Notebook


No, not that Sliders, the TV show from way back when. But ice cream. A specific ice cream from my childhood.

I have fond memories of a time whenever my father was deployed in the UK in between postings abroad, mostly to do training. As a Master Armourer, he often had these short postings of several months or more that my mother took full advantage of.

She would take what she called her second family, that would be us. The three smaller, younger kids. Abandon my father—who would usually be working/training 9 to 5, along with my three older siblings (all at school and able to look after themselves)—and do a mini 2-3 week holiday in Scotland to see her family. Specifically, her sister, Margaret and her family.

I for one loved these mini breaks away from my older siblings, school, and being picked on. Even though it meant, for a lot of the time we were visiting, that I would be looking after my two younger brothers. The reward for being away, and on babysitting duties were, came in the form of ice cream.

The area where my aunt lived in Dundee, my mum's home town, boasted not only one of the best ice cream parlours I'd ever visited, but they also had an ice cream van that visited the street where my aunt lived. They handmade Italian gelato ice cream, served out of huge tubs. I remember there were only ever three flavours, chocolate, strawberry, and their award-winning gold medal vanilla.

My mother use to give me her coin purse and send me out to buy the ice creams. I have to tell you, I felt so much excitement at being rewarded with whatever ice cream I wanted, it was a dream.

And what did I order, I hear you ask? A slider. But not just any slider. I would either ask for the marshmallow wafer slider or, once, I went for the supreme ice cream, the Empress.

The Empress was a vanilla slider with a twist. It comprised a single crisp rectangular wafer that was placed in a metal holder with sides. The server, a gentleman with the most amazing moustache then took a small metal spatular and hand paddle the ice cream till he had what looked like a trowel full, and pasted this onto the waiting wafer in the holder. Atop this he added a Snowball—a chocolate covered marshmallow ball rolled in coconut, was squished gently onto the waiting ice cream, before a marshmallow wafer was then carefully balanced on top.

The server expertly tipped the ice cream out onto a piece of waiting paper, wrapping it to keep it safe, and then placed it in a paper tray.

It wasn't so much an ice cream as a full-on dessert and, let me tell you, not for the faint of heart.

I was only ever brave enough to order the Empress once. But once was enough for me to remember that taste and sheer enjoyment, for a lifetime.

I still dream of that slider even today, and wish I could taste it just one more time.

Ah, those were the days.

In Scotland, ice cream sandwiches are known as 'sliders' - usually served as vanilla ice cream sandwiched between two rectangle wafers.

You can buy sliders consisting of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between one wafer and one block of chocolate-covered nougat. These are known as nougat sliders. Alternatively, called a 'single nougat' or in the case of two blocks of nougat; a 'double nougat.' In this context, the word nougat is pronounced as in gold nugget.


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