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Ice, ice, baby: fun, frosty things to do in DFW

Posted 7:34am on Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013

It looks like DFW dodged an ice storm during the past week, leading to grumblings about alarmist weather forecasts. Frankly, if there’s any time we want forecasters to be wrong, it’s when they’re predicting an ice storm, so we’re pretty happy about that.

But, well, there’s still an ice storm going on. ICE! at the Gaylord Texan. Ice at the new Panther Island Ice skating rink. Ice at the movies, with Frozen. Ice on stage. Ice in restaurants, and we’re not just talking about the stuff in your tea glass.

So we’ve rounded up some cool things to look for. Because the ice of North Texas is upon us.

Ice in the arts

ICE!

It doesn’t get more coldly to the point than the title of the Gaylord Texan’s annual exhibit, which this year features the story of The Nutcracker in a 14,000-square-foot exhibit consisting of 2 million pounds of ice. Think we’ve been through a cold snap recently? This exhibit is kept at 9 degrees Fahrenheit (complimentary parkas are handed out for the tours). “ICE!” also includes a “Christmas in New York” room and a Nativity scene. Plus, something to make you simultaneously go “Weeee!” and “Brrrr!”: an ice slide! $11.95-$29.95. This is just part of the “Lone Star Christmas” at the Gaylord Texan, which seldom does anything small. Through Jan. 4 at Gaylord Texan, 1501 Gaylord Trail, Grapevine. 817-778-1000; www.christmasatgaylordtexan.com.

Frosty the Snowman

Technically, this is snow, not ice, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention this theatrical version of the tale about the snowman who comes to life. It’s so heartwarming it could melt you into a puddle. (Sorry, Frosty.) Friday-Sunday through Dec. 22, Casa Mañana. 817-332-2272; https://www.casamanana.org or www.ticketmaster.com.

Disney on Ice

Subtitled 100 Years of Magic, the ice-skating show features 65 Disney characters, from Mickey Mouse to Buzz Lightyear — and beyond! Running through Sunday at the Allen Event Center, 200 E. Stacy Road, No. 1350. 11:30 a.m., 3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Friday; 1 and 5 p.m. Saturday; noon and 4 p.m. Sunday; ticketmaster.com.

Ice House Band

One of DFW’s many party bands, Ice House, performs as a 12-piece but can be divided up into smaller bands, and has a more than 100-song repertoire ranging from Maxwell’s Ascension to Sam Cooke’s You Send Me. But the current song list doesn’t include anything from the ’80s band Icehouse, nor, sadly, Ice Ice Baby by Vanilla Ice (see item at right). 972-672-0183; www.icehouseband.com.

Ice sculptors

Kristopher Kirk, who does business as Fort Worth-based Cold Fusion Ice, says he was working at the Diamond Club at the Ballpark in Arlington when longtime Dallas ice sculptor Dean DeMarais (of Dallas Ice FX) ame in to set up a sculpture for an important meeting. DeMarais said he was looking for someone to train, so Kirk, an artist, called him and eventually started working for DeMarais full time.

“I went back to working banquets and bartending and knew that life was no longer for me,” Kirk says in an email. “I did a little research and decided to start my own business so I could start sculpting again. It was very discouraging at first, because I barely had any business, and nothing to sculpt.”

Earl Toler of Dallas’ Emergency Ice, which provides ice for restaurants and special events, helped Kirk’s business get going, even giving him freezer space to work in. Eventually, business took off, and you can get a look at Kirk’s art — swans, howling wolves, “glass” slippers and other sculptures — on Kirk’s website, http://coldfusionicesculptures.com.

“In March of next year it will be 10 years since I started sculpting,” Kirks says. “It has been quite a ride. Ice sculpting is one those things that you have to make mistakes at to get better, and I made many mistakes. I have a very ‘cool’ and unique job that gives me a lot of freedom. You don’t run into many ice sculptors out there in the real world.”

Paul Miller of Fort Worth’s Stellar Ice says that ice sculpting is “a niche inside of a niche,” but like Kirk he’s long been drawn to the unusual craft.

“About 16 years ago, I was working for a chef in downtown Fort Worth,” says Miller, who’s also executive chef at Colleyville’s Piazza in the Village. “I’d never seen an ice sculpture before, and he did an ice sculpture for a party. I watched him start to finish, and I was just in awe. I told him, ‘I want to do that.’ ”

The chef advised Miller to practice carving on bars of soap, and a couple of weeks later, Miller brought swan- and horse-shaped soap bars back to the chef. That earned Miller a shot at carving ice. Miller says that he had done some doodling and drawing before, but he didn’t really dive in till ice sculpting, getting better at it through diligent practice.

“It’s immediate gratification,” says Miller, who also knows DeMarais and has worked with him in competitions. “You’re looking at a finished project the minute you’re done working on it. And ice goes much faster carving than wood or stone, which I’ve done before as well. Ice is fun just because it’s so fast.”

Cold Fusion Ice: 817-300-3549. Stellar Ice: (817) 235-0241. Dallas Ice FX: 469-853-3153.

‘Frozen’

Advance buzz has been good on this animated Disney movie about a quest to find a young woman who has the ability to create ice and snow, and thus potential havoc. (Check out Maricar Estrella’s review for DFW.com)

‘Vanilla Ice Goes Amish’

No, we did not make up that title. The Dallas-born rapper (real name Rob Van Winkle) has done an exceptional job of extending his 15 minutes of fame — or rather renewing them over and over again, with TV projects such as this home-improvement-oriented show (a spinoff of The Vanilla Ice Project), in which our hero embeds himself in the largest Amish community in the country to learn about hand-craftsmanship and the Amish culture. 9 p.m. Saturdays, DIY Network.

Dining ice and ice houses

Sashimi on ice at Little Lilly Sushi

As far as our tastebuds are concerned, there’s little worse than warm sashimi. Which is why Little Lilly Sushi on Camp Bowie serves its sashimi on a plate of shaved ice — to keep it as cold as possible. Now that’s how to serve sashimi! 6100 Camp Bowie Blvd., No. 12, Fort Worth. 817-989-8886; www.littlelillysushi.com.

Smoked ice at Woodshed Smokehouse

Tim Love’s Trinity River restaurant specializes in food cooked over different types of wood — but Love and his crew have come up with a way to get that pleasant campfire flavor in ice that’s used in certain cocktails. We wouldn’t recommend smoked ice in everything — it’s not exactly iced-tea material — but it’s popular in the Woodshed’s Texas Pecan, Smoked Maple Whiskey and Old-Fashioned. And we hear that a lot of people like it in their iced coffee. 201 Riverfront Drive, Fort Worth. 817-877-4545; www.woodshedsmokehouse.com.

Rodeo Goat Ice House

The first thing that comes to mind when we think of Rodeo Goat isn’t ice — it’s burgers, because this place (which just turned a year old) won the 2013 DFW.com Burger Battle. We’ve found it to be a pretty good spot for beer, too, during our current DFW.com North Texas Craft Beer Bracket. The building used to house a candy factory, but it has that ice-house feel — especially when you’re drinking a cold one. 2836 Bledsoe St., Fort Worth. 817-877-4628; www.rodeogoat.com.

Bottlecap Alley Icehouses

The thing about ice houses is that they’re rarely chilly places; you can usually find pretty friendly service, a laid-back atmosphere and a good time. Bottlecap Alley, with its family-friendly ambiance, excels at all three, and does some pretty good burgers, too. Three locations: 1469 Texas 114 at Texas 26, Grapevine, 817-305-0025; 148 S. Main St. (U.S. 377), Keller, 682-593-0493; and 2150 E. Texas 114 in Southlake, 817-251-0075. http://www.bottlecapalley .com/index.php.

Strokers Ice House

Described as Dallas’ “premier bike hangout,” this bar and grill offers burgers, sandwiches and appetizers (including the somewhat oddly named Ringo Starr Cajun Chili Cheese Fries — a perfect starter for the John Lennon Grilled Cheese, if you ask us). Judging from the pictures on the website, the female employees of Strokers don’t dress like it’s cold, even though they’re working in an ice house. 9304 Harry Hines Blvd., Dallas. 214-357-0707; http://www.strokersdallas .com/icehouse.

Katy Trail Ice House

This popular uptown Dallas joint has received praise for its patio and its barbecue, as well as for its beer selection, which includes several Texas beers. It also has a good lineup of Texas vodkas and liquors. It has been featured on the reality series Most Eligible Dallas and Big Rich Texas. 3127 Routh St., Dallas, 214-468-0600; katyicehouse.com. Also check out the recently opened Katy Trail Ice House Outpost in Plano, which boasts a pretty good patio, too. 4700 W. Park Blvd., Plano, 972-599-9000.

Addison Ice House

Another ice house with attitude, this one has a good burger-sandwich-beer menu, including the Ice House burger, a half-pound patty with guacamole, jalapeño “bottle caps,” pepperjack cheese and jalapeño ranch dressing. With that kind of spice, you’ll probably need some ice. 3875 Ponte Ave., Suite 250, Addison. 972-218-0921; addisonicehouse.net.

Smyth

At Smyth, a craft cocktail bar so relentlessly upscale that reservations are required, it’s not just about the drink but the ice. In fact, the frozen water is so key that the owners — including Michael Martensen of Cedars Social Club fame — said they weren’t going to be just using any old ice tray full of tap water. Not only is the ice tailor-made for the shape of the glass, but D Magazine wrote before Smyth’s opening that the bar would be “serving 3,000-year-old glacial ice harvested in Alaska. Because of the way it forms — slowly and under intense pressure — glacial ice has larger crystals than normal ice, which supposedly allows it to melt more slowly, thereby cooling the drink without watering it down.” But in mid-November, Martensen abruptly announced that he’s no longer going to be working with either Smyth or Cedars Social, and Smyth was closed with a re-opening set for Friday. Will the glacial ice melt away like Martensen’s presence or will the quality cubes still keep tumbling? We’ll have to chill out and see. 4513 Travis St., Dallas. 214-520-0900; www.facebook.com/barsmythdallas.

Ice sports and recreation

Panther Island Ice

Fort Worth has never had an outdoor ice-skating rink — till Panther Island Ice opened Nov. 22. But during its first year at least, it’s not at Panther Island, but at the Coyote Drive-In, although operating separately from the theater (i.e. — or should that be i.c.e.? — you don’t need a movie ticket to get in). But skaters can fuel up at the Coyote Canteen concession stand. Admission is $10, which covers your skate rental; discounts available for active-duty military and their families, and for groups of 15 or more. For hours and other info, visit www.trinityrivervision.org/pantherislandice or call 817-698-0700. 223 N.E. Fourth St., Fort Worth.

Other places to ice skate in DFW

Polar Ice House, inside Grapevine Mills Mall; Ice at the Parks, 3815 S. Cooper St., Arlington; Galleria Ice Skating Center, inside the Dallas Galleria, 13350 Dallas Parkway; Ice Training Center, 522 Centennial Blvd., Richardson; Dr Pepper StarCenter, 1400 S. Pipeline Road, Euless (locations also in Farmers Branch, Frisco, McKinney and Plano).

Dallas Stars

Dallas’ National Hockey League franchise since 1997, when the Minnesota North Stars moved to DFW, rendering the “North” part of their name unnecessary. They won the Stanley Cup in 1999. Hockey might take a back seat to baseball, basketball and especially football in DFW, but the Stars have one of the most ardent fan followings out there. Current season runs through April, and even further, if the team makes the playoffs. Home games are at American Airlines Center. stars.nhl.com.

Lone Star Brahmas

We’re used to associating hockey with fighting, but not necessarily with courtroom battles. But this North Richland Hills-based amateur team that prepares youths for professional or college hockey was recently sued by the Texas Brahmas (formerly the Fort Worth Brahmas — confused yet?) over trademark infringement. The Texas Brahmas, who are members of the Central Hockey League but aren’t playing this season due to lack of a good venue, contend that the Lone Star Brahmas are using a logo very similar to theirs. Oh, and it gets more complicated than that — we’d rather explain the rules of hockey to a newbie than go into this in such a small space. The Lone Star Brahmas’ season runs through March at NYTEX Sports Center, 8851 Ice House Drive (cool address), North Richland Hills; lonestarbrahmas.pointstreaksites.com.

Richardson Women’s Hockey League

This league began in 2000 with a couple of teams playing in Grapevine, grew to as many as six teams, and currently has four teams hitting the ice for its fall season, which concludes Dec. 15. But it’s always on the lookout for new members; if you’re interested, do a Web search for “Richardson Women’s Hockey League.” Most games are Sunday nights at Ice Training Center, 522 Centennial Drive, Richardson (which also hosts men’s and youth hockey leagues).

Integrity Hockey

We must admit, we didn’t expect our icy endeavor to turn up a Christian hockey league. But there’s the Metroplex Christian Hockey Association and Integrity Hockey, described as a “Christian-led outreach ministry dedicated to sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ with the ice hockey community.” The league has five divisions, each with a different skill level, with seasons ongoing through January at various venues including Polar Ice House in Grapevine, Ice Training Center in Richardson and Dr Pepper StarCenter in McKinney; playoffs begin in February. www.integrityhockey.org.

Dallas-Fort Worth Curling Club

A group of friends started this club in 2002 to honor the then-obscure and still-cultish Winter Olympics sport of curling, defined as “stones launched down the ice by one team member while others direct its trajectory by sweeping the ice in front of it.” The club has about 50 members and has room for 80. It curls at the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Farmers Branch; fall play takes place Wednesdays and Sundays through Dec. 15 and Dec. 18; the winter season begins Jan. 12 for Sundays and Jan. 15 for Wednesdays. Open houses are planned during the 2014 Winter Olympics for people curious about curling. For information, visit dfwcurling.com.

Staff writers Cary Darling and Steve Wilson contributed to this report, which includes material from DFW.com archives.

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