Somehow there are few things that seem more right than to start off this National Ice Cream Day with a cone. Thanks to a party after my friends’ band had their CD release concert, this whole Sunday started a little later than usual. So it made the noontime Wild Maine Blueberry cone that constituted my breakfast seem as though it could have been a post-lunch treat. Tim and his cousin Nick were having similar issues with the late night, so they opted for Coffee in a cup.
Located at the intersection of a cobblestone street and a cobblestone alley that traffic isn’t allowed on, Beals is a highlight of the Old Port section of Portland. It’s a place for the family to gather in the middle of the day before meeting up again at their lobster dinner. It’s New England to the core.
Run by the Malia family for nearly the past 20 years, Beals now has a few locations across the state. The ice cream is actually made in the Scarborough headquarters, where Roy Beal served his first scoops, and is delivered as far as Windham. It’s interesting the way that Maine has created these local business empires that extend statewide – like the Bull Moose Records chain which seems to be the only record store chain in the country that is successful.
I’ve been to this spot before and generally I opt for their teaberry. It’s a great mint ice cream that use the teaberry for its flavor as opposed to the far more common peppermint and/or spearmint blends that dominate. If you’ve ever had Clark’s gum or teaberry bushes growing in your back yard, you know the taste. However, something compelled me in a different direction. The spirit of the day seemed to steer me to something more local. Ergo, Maine wild blueberry.
In addition to being a blueberry ice cream with a great mix of fruit flavors that integrated itself with the cream, the scoop was full of actual blueberries. Usually the blue berries used in ice cream are California ones that grow to the size of grapes, but Beals stayed local for real as the tiny blueberries in the mix that stay whole make this a fantastic berry ice cream. Here I was thinking all they were good at was teaberry. (A friend who’d been here two days earlier had such an aversion to the red raspberry ripple that it wound up in the trash bin after two bites).
The most common gripe about Beals is one of the most absurd. The claim is that the shop is too cold, and that people who sit at the tables – or bar counter – want to eat ice cream in a warmer setting. While it’s not as much an issue in the summer, when people who want it hot and melting down their fingers can just go outside, it’s silly anytime. If this ever becomes a real problem, I’ll wear my sweatshirt when I go in.
Cone – 1scoop $2.99 2scoop $3.46 3scoop $3.83
Frappe – regular $4.02 thick $4.49 (malt +$.47)
Beals Gourmet Ice Cream
Open year round