The Sweetest Swirls in NDG are at Ca Lem

Usually around the first day of spring, we get that itch. Unfortunately, we have to wait to sate our craving for Ca Lem ice cream because the popular NDG spot only opens for the season around the end of the school year in May/June. The month or so of extra waiting is painful, but once it’s open for business, all is forgiven.

Montreal is littered with ice cream spots during the summer. We don’t understand the economics of it and how they can all stay open and keep paying rent when they’re only open half the year, but some things are better left a mystery.

All I know is Ca Lem on Sherbrooke W near Loyola fills up with families from around the neighbourhood and Cote St. Luc on day one and stays full till autumn hits.

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And it’s pretty clear why Ca Lem has established itself in our world of Diperies and Dairy Queens: they do a special double-flavoured soft serve every week, and they’re usually amazing. Sometimes they’re obvious combos that straddle the sweet/sour line, like one replicating a sour watermelon candy or taro (sweet potato) with passionfruit sorbet. Other times they’re a little more inventive, like last week’s breakfast-y apple cinnamon toast crunch swirl.

Then there are times where we’re simply blown away: a recent blue cotton candy and strawberry sorbet with sprinkles had us re-affirming our allegiances to this unique ice cream parlour.

The best thing about the soft serve swirls is they’re not too sweet, and the sorbet half usually gives an extra cooling sensation. Perfect for those looking for a dessert in the heat that won’t leave you desperate for water. There are regular ice cream and sorbet flavours too if you’re looking for a familiar single or double scoop, and if they ever get around to making Frosted Flakes or Honey Peanut Butter ice creams again, don’t miss out.

And once you’ve purchased your photogenic swirl, don’t hesitate to walk over to their now-infamous Instagram wall, which is basically a bunch of portrait-sized backgrounds you can place your ice cream in front of for a sweet ‘grammable pic. It feels a bit silly at first to take a selfie of your hand holding an ice cream in front space- or beach-themed wallpaper, but one can’t argue with the results: it’s pleasing to the eye.

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It’s a small operation, but the fervour Ca Lem has managed to create in the highly competitive ice cream space in Montreal is a testament to just how original and delicious their creations are. Even if you’re not a huge fan of sweets, you owe it to yourself to head down to Loyola and give this upstart a try. And if you do, let us know, because we’ll never say no to ice cream…

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