When I moved to Philadelphia for college, I was introduced to a new concept, water ice.  While I had eaten this treat before, growing up in New York, it was always called Italian ices.  Living in Philadelphia for 4 years, I learned that there was one water ice that stood out above the rest, Rita’s.  The first day of spring is a special day, and not just because of the changing weather.  Rita’s officially reopens for the spring, and offers free water ice in celebration.  I quickly learned that this was like a national holiday, with everyone posting on social media how excited they were for free Rita’s.  While at Temple University, a Rita’s opened up on campus, and you would not believe the lines that formed down the block.  I had to see what all of this hype was about!  When I finally stepped foot into the store, I was overwhelmed by not just the flavor options, but the treat options.  After several visits, I settled on a favorite, the Gelati.  This layered treat has custard on the bottom (which is like an ice cream) with water ice on top, finished with another layer of custard.  You can make your own out of any of the available flavors, and it’s so good!  The richness of the custard, with the light and flavorful water ice is the perfect treat!

Unfortunately, my time at Temple University came to an end, and I moved back to New York where there were no local Rita’s.  Up until this weekend, it had been years since my last Rita’s treat.  In fact, it had been so many years that the last time I had indulged I was still eating gluten.  So when I attended a recent event at Met Life Stadium and headed to my seats, I was overwhelmed with nostalgia and hunger when I saw a Rita’s stand at the base of the stairs to my section.  I was so excited until I reached the counter and remembered life is different now.  While custard and water ice are not items you’d expect to have gluten, I’ve learned you always have to ask.  Since this was a kiosk and not a store, I was unsure of what the attendant would say when I asked my Standard question, “Do you know if this is gluten free?”  Not only was the attendant super helpful, he immediately referred to and shared the allergy information sheets they keep at the stand.  I was really happy to learn that almost all of Rita’s custards and water ices are gluten free (there are a few that contain cake, brownie, and cookie bits which contain gluten). I quickly decided on a Gelati with chocolate custard and black cherry ices, and it was just as good as I remembered.


For more informaiton about Rita’s or to find your local store, check out their website:  http://www.ritasice.com