Cold days in Oreo Valley - Tucson Local Media: Import

Cold days in Oreo Valley

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Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2005 11:00 pm

A sunny day in the valley is nothing new to those who live here. Sun gently warming the skin of those lying by a pool, a cool breeze teasing the petals on flowers, crisp air bringing smiles to kids faces as they get a moment of freedom.

But when the valley is on top of a hill, the sun comes from vibrant walls and matching tables, the cool breeze comes from freezers that chill ice cream and the smiling faces belong to a local basketball team celebrating over a cup or cone, there's only one thing to say.

Welcome to Oreo Valley.

While Oreo Valley is not a real place, it is a state of mind real enough to those who enjoy a cookies and cream treat every once in awhile at Sundaze Ice Cream and Yogurt, 10325 N. La Cañada Drive.

The atmosphere is one of fun and just getting to take a break, or sinning with a delectable treat that's actually good for you.

Tara Jackson came in at lunchtime on a recent Saturday and enjoyed the peace and quiet that came from relative solitude while eating her Oreo Valley sugar cone outside on the glinting tables.

"I enjoy a good ice cream name," said Jackson, a pre-pharmacy student at the University of Arizona who was at Sundaze for the first time. "Granted, I like the ice cream more, hopefully, but I enjoy the name."

Melanie McGrath has been working for the Sundaze for four and a half years. She started out in the first store on Sunrise Drive, but now spends time in the year-old store in Oro Valley. She said Wendy and Peter Gallen, the owners, like doing little things to liven up the mood of an already bright and cheerful place.

"It's just for fun," she said. "He likes doing something fun and different every once in awhile."

Sundaze began as a health-conscious choice with only frozen yogurt, all of which was low-calorie, low-carbohydrate, low-everything. The new store, however, has expanded to ice cream as well.

"All of the ice-cream is homemade … in the store," McGrath said. "There's no artificial flavoring, no artificial preservatives, no artificial anything."

Which is definitely part of the draw to McGrath. "I think the fact that we have low-cal, low-carb choices attracts people."

For Margaret Gair, a resident of Rancho Vistoso, it isn't necessarily the healthy aspect of the shop that brings her back. It's the frozen yogurt.

"I like frozen yogurt, not ice cream," she said with a hint of her home country while sitting in the sun on a Monday afternoon. "I usually come here about once a week."

Giving customers an easy place to relax time and time again is evidently a goal of the well-run store. Not only do they do cute things to attract people, like naming ice cream after the town they're in, they also help with the community.

According to a sign in the window, Sundaze helps support local activities. Ironwood Ridge High School, which is just minutes away, is one of the organizations that benefits.

Of course, when sponsoring teenage sports, it's hard for the shop itself not to benefit as well.

Special flavors roll in and out of the store, everything from chile chocolate ice cream (and yes, its actually spicy) to fruit-filled concoctions, each though up by Peter Gallen.

Of course, for those who like a little bit less of an adventure, or just don't like hot chilies, there are always the favorites like chocolate or vanilla.

And that's just the ice cream!

Like the ice cream, even the shakes are homemade, whipped by hand rather than machine. Smoothies, sundaes and varieties of frozen yogurt appear in the hands of customers and in yummy looking pictures on the menu.

Then you get into the toppings. Stacks of containers line the counters until you aren't quite sure how they open them at all. Heath bars, Reese's Peanut butter Cups, M&M's, fresh fruit and any other kind of topping you could ever even think of wanting is available to you with new ones or specials on the way.

For information about store hours, call 297-4111.

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