Happy 1st Anniversary: Christina’s – Cambridge MA

25 06 2009

A year ago we made our first post on a trip to Inman Square. Thankfuly we’ve been able to visit about a hundred other places since then. I thought about replicating my order from that first stop, but instead I went for a twist on a classic option with a Chocolate Mousse and Ivy had a cup of Mint Chocolate Chip with rainbow jimmies.

Christina's Ice Cream Inman Square Cambridge Mass

Christina’s is still in the same spot in Inman, though some of its neighbors have changed. There’s a great new Southern restaurant called Tupelo that’s just a block away, but the most notable change is the fact that Christina’s no longer has an improv group in the adjacent space. Instead that wall now has a paint job that matches Christina’s facade and the partially open door revealed a lot of boxes that seemed to hold ingredients for ice cream.

The booths filled up just about the same moment that I turned around with my cone, so we headed outside. Amazing that it’s cool enough in June that people still are wearing coats that they can throw into a seat to claim it before they make their order. Thankfully, Inman has some good benches for outdoor loitering.

Christina’s shares many qualities with nearby Toscanini’s. They both operate a single shop producing a high quality ice cream and really lean on the flavors more so than what you can mix into them. Christina’s takes advantage of the adjacent spice shop for some robust flavors, and has a larger set of options that you can get added to your ice cream, but you aren’t going wrong with either.

I started with a taste of Honey Lavender, but the aftertaste of honey had the same tone as a Halls Honey Lemon cough drop. With a line deep behind me, I defaulted to the chocolate mousse ice cream to fill my cone. After tasting it, I almost wish I’d had a scoop of regular chocolate to compare it to. While the chocolate was dark and rich, it had none of the pudding-like characteristics that I was expecting. Next time I will get the ginger.

Chocolate Mousse Ice Cream Christina's

It’s amazing that after a year of eating ice cream cones, that more than anything I just keep finding new places. The more people who read this the more favorite places get added to my list of places to go. There’s something magical about any world that opens up layer after layer the more you explore it. And once we try every cone we can move on to sundaes.

Original Review: http://weallscreamforicecream.wordpress.com/2008/06/25/christinas-ice-cream-cambridge-ma/

Return Visit: http://weallscreamforicecream.wordpress.com/2008/11/13/return-engagement-christinas-cambridge-ma/

Cone – small $2.57 medium $3.37 large $3.99

Sundae – small $4.52 large $5.65

Frappe $4.08 extra thick $4.52

Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream

617 492-7021

1255 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02139

Open year round

Sun-Thu 11:30a-11p Fri-Sat 11:30a-midnight

http://christinasicecream.com/





Ice Cream Across Rhode Island

21 06 2009

As a result of my feeble efforts in finding ice cream in Rhode Island, I must applaud the efforts of Paul Kandarian who uncovered ten different ice cream locations in the Travel section of today’s Boston Globe. I’m figuring not too many of you have a print edition lying around, so this link should help you find some fine Ocean State ice cream.

ri

Of these locations the only one we’ve been to so far is Three Sisters in Providence, so we have our work cut out for us.





Pizzi Farm – Waltham MA

19 06 2009

Turning onto Lincoln Street, the skies parted. The whole way over here this had been seeming like a worse and worse idea as the rain went from a slight drizzle to a torrential deluge. Pizzi’s may not be landing ground for an ark, but I did get a Peppermint Patty cone here, and Ivy went for the Moose Tracks.

the creamery at pizzi farm ice cream waltham ma

Considering how close this place is to the primary path between my apartment and my parents’ house, it’s pretty remarkable I didn’t even know this place existed. I had made an attempt to go here back in early April when I first scouted this out, but it was then that I was told that they didn’t open the ice cream windows until Marathon Monday.

This place has been in the hands of the Pizzi family since 1933. Back then it was just a farm, in 1965 they opened the farm stand, and in 1990 the current generation opened the Market and Deli and the Creamery. Located at a Y in the road between Cambridge Reservoir and Hardy Pond, this place isn’t easy to find unless you have an idea where you are heading, but that seclusion is a large part of the allure.

Alas, this isn’t homemade ice cream. After reading over the flavor list, I asked and confirmed my suspicions that the source for this ice cream was Bliss Dairy. Sometimes these things are easy to tell, and between the properly named M&M/Mars company flavors and the Pomegranate Chip, I had a good idea what I was about to eat. Still, it’s a good thing to get a taste, even in June, to make sure that the ice cream hasn’t been subjected to the elements and refrozen.

Without any seasonal flavors available, I sampled the peppermint patty and proceeded to follow it with a whole cone. The top scoop almost fell off when the girl behind the counter handed it to me, so before it toppled, I opened wide and took the whole scoop in my mouth. After recovering from quick-onset brain freeze, I settled in to the cone. It’s a really nice mint ice cream with ample amounts of chocolate flakes and crushed candies. Three small scoops perched precariously on a small cone seemed like an odd way to be served, but it wound up being the right amount.

peppermint patty ice cream pizzi farm waltham ma

The tables have those grated metal chairs, so there were no reservoirs of water to soak the butt of my jeans. After I kicked the seat, it was dry enough to settle down and enjoy a cone. It was also a great fantasy to imagine that I had gone to elementary school right across the street. I can’t imagine what percentage of allowances wind up here.

Cone – kiddie $2.95 small $3.50 large $4.25

Sundae – junior $4.25 regular $4.95

Frappe $4.95

The Creamery at Pizzi Farm

549 Lincoln St, Waltham, MA 02451

781 891-1032

Market open year round, Open for ice cream Patriot’s Day-Labor Day

Hours #a-#p

http://www.pizzifarm.com/





Murphys – Dingle IRE

16 06 2009

Living in New England is a real luxury for those of us addicted to ice cream. It’s tough to find towns without a parlor of their own. My parents just returned from a trip to Ireland and reported that there was only one place that made their own ice cream. My mom had a Chocolate cone and my dad the Bailey’s at Murphys main shop in Dingle.

murphys ice cream dingle ireland

Two brothers, Sean and Kieran Murphy, started this ice cream shoppe in 2000. They have since opened another shop in Kilarney, and are installing a scooping case in Dublin at Powerscourt Townhouse Cafe this Friday. In 2006, they began using only milk from Kerry cows native to their County Kerry home.

Since it was my folks that were here and not I, there’s only so much information I can glean from the photos. I can’t even read the prices off the menu board to relay that information as I usually would (and I was really hoping to get to use the Euro symbol). It looks like there are tables inside, and I think my dad said they actually had wifi. The information is limited since they were outside most of the time. Everything about their trip is an anomaly though – they spent over a week in Ireland and only had one day without sun.

I’m very impressed with the fact that this place uses local milk for their ice creams, maybe someday I’ll make it over here to try myself. They offer sixteen flavours at any point in time. While they have the same basic flavors, some of the more successful experiments include Pink Champagne Sorbet, Honey Cardamom, Chocolate Whiskey Truffle (with Irish whiskey), Brown Bread and Guinness, Bellini Sorbet, White Chocolate and Rosewater, and Chai Latte.

My dad gave the Guiness a taste, but they were drinking enough of that elsewhere along the way. My folks both had stellar reports, I haven’t seen the other couple they went with to confirm, but I can assume they liked it. I already do.

murphys ice cream dingle ireland cone

Kieran Murphy runs a blog called Ice Cream Ireland that is worth checking out if you live there or are visiting. It’s how I found out about the grand opening party on Friday in Dublin. If you make it there, have a scoop for me.

murphys dingle counter menu scoopers

Murphys Ice Cream

Strand St, Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland

066 915 2644

Open year round

http://www.murphysicecream.ie/





27th Scooper Bowl – City Hall Plaza, Boston MA

11 06 2009

With the final day of the Scooper Bowl coinciding with my brother’s birthday, we planned to meet up in City Hall Plaza after work to take advantage of the last hour. Tim twirled around Beacon Hill looking for a parking spot so we wound up passing through the booths in opposite directions after passing through this ice cream gate.

gate scooper bowl

I started with Ben and Jerry’s and had a scoop of Goodbye Yellow Brickle Road. Which was some sort of butter brickle thing apparently, but I’m not sure if they are trying to imply a Wizard of Oz thing with this or if it is an Elton John-derived flavor. It didn’t matter so much when we got the Baskin Robbins mascot and some nearby girls to sing “Happy Birthday” to Tim.

tim being serenaded by br ice cream mascott

Next to them was Spasso’s Gelato from Needham, the only small shoppe represented here. I got a Bacio, a chocolate hazelnut gelato, and if you get lucky you may find a few whole hazelnuts mixed in. It was nice to see the newly minted gelateria taking up as much booth space as their much larger neighbors. While it was the one place that most people were unfamiliar with, it also became the most buzzed about.

mike lowell sandcastle scooper bowl 2009 boston

This sandcastle version of Red Sox third-baseman Mike Lowell was an odd diversion in the midst of hungry ice cream fanatics. In the same way, choosing the Zesty Lemon Sorbet from Häagen-Dazs kept my palate from being overrun with just cream. The sorbet had a tangy kick that definitely merited that zesty moniker.

haagen daaz zesty lemon sorbet scooper bowl boston

It’s easy to forget that many of these companies are local entities, and Edy’s Mint Chocolate Chip, was a fine scoop in the midst of a few booths, but unfortunately, like many of the other exhibitors, they chose a very unadventurous palate of options. Most places put up both a vanilla and chocolate, and for Edy’s this was as wild as they got.

edy's mint chocolate chip scooper bowl ice cream boston

I was surprised to find Garelick Farms and Gifford’s Ice Cream sharing a booth. I shouldn’t be astonished that the largest dairies in Massachusetts and Maine joined forces in these economic climates, I just never knew they were owned by the same folks. The scoop of  Chocolate I ate had a nice light flavor that was almost so light as to be milky rather than creamy. A different approach, but a nice change of pace.

gifford's garelick farms chocolate ice cream scooper bowl

Breyer’s Cherry Vanilla was a nice classic flavor to put a stamp on the row of booths that lined up next to the stage where a band choogled away at some random cover songs. In the other corner were a few large jugs of water and women filling cups. It was a nice palate cleanser in the middle of all of these conflicting tastes.

breyers cherry vanilla scooper bowl ice cream

Baskin Robbins won points for throwing some experimental flavors out for people to try. My tasting attempt was Rock ‘n’ Roll Swirl, a swirl of sour green apple sorbet and grape sorbet with pop rock-style candy mixed throughout. The grape sorbet was good, the apple a touch too sweet, and those problems were amplified by the candy. The sugar coated rocks don’t know what they  are there for until suddenly a symphony of pops and bursts sets off in the mouth. Not what I expect of my forzen treats, but they get points for effort.

baskin robbins rock n roll swirl sorbet sour apple grape pop rocks scooper bowl

Brigham’s was the most disappointing of the lot. Their Vanilla With Oreo seemed as though it had gotten warm the day before because the first bite of this was full of jagged crystals of refrozen ice cream. With other options around, I didn’t feel too bad sending this off to the trash before the third bite.

brigham's vanilla oreo ice cream scooper bowl

H.P. Hood was the last booth, and of their uninspired options I chose the smallest dish of Coffee. I wouldn’t be surprise to find this in my parents freezer, and it almost didn’t even seem like they were trying at this point. With the minutes dwindling away until they struck the tents, people were gravitating toward their favorites rather than displaying how many cups they could balance as if it were a show of virility.

city hall plaza aftermath scooper bowl

Tim and I conferred over our tastes and the one I missed out that he steered me back toward was Baskin Robbins’ York Peppermint Patty. He tried the swirl while we were over there, but was wholly unimpressed with the apple. So we crossed back to the other side and both tried on Ben & Jerry’s Oatmeal Cookie Dough. A good concept, but with the oatmeal dough, there are some oat husks that have the texture of eating paper.

ben & jerry's oatmeal cookie dough scooper bowl boston

Spasso’s Chocolate was a bit grainier and not quite as good as their bacio, and I’m still reeling from the assault of flavors that were pretending to be contained in Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Macadamia. But the last scoop came back to the best of the whole Scooper Bowl – the bacio at Spasso. It was the underdog, from out of nowhere relying on quality over quantity.

spasso bacio best ice cream gelato scooper bowl boston hazelnut chocolate

Three overcast days did not help to make this the most successful Scooper Bowl in the event’s twenty seven years, but they still brought in nearly a quarter of a milion dollars. All of the proceeds from the $8 each person paid to get in to this gated ice cream oasis went to the Jimmy Fund. This tally board was posted in the middle of everything, but there was no way to tell how recently it had been updated.

jimmy fund scooper bowl total board boston

All You Can Eat $8

The Jimmy Fund’s 27th Annual Scooper Bowl

City Hall Plaza, Boston 02108

Once a year for three days in June

noon-8p

http://www.jimmyfund.org/eve/event/scooper-bowl/default.html





Sandpiper – Greenport NY

5 06 2009

Of the times that I’ve walked into a ice cream parlor, this was one of the oddest. While all of the other stores around Greenport were closed due to the rain, this place was more eerie in that it seemed as though no other patrons had been here yet. I got the first Black Raspberry cone of the season here.

sandpiper ice cream greenport ny

Sandpiper has been around since 1979, and while other ice cream shoppes have come and gone from this seaside hamlet, this place has endured. Located on the last bloc of Main Street before the harbor, this is very much a tourist destination.

However, it’s also the furthest east of any homemade ice cream place on Long Island’s North Fork. While Hershey’s ice cream is prevalent out on this stretch, the exceptions are pretty notable. Sandpiper is laid out like an old Carvel with freezer cases full of novelties (but no Fudgie the Whale or Flying Saucers). There’s not really any seating inside, though there is a bar and mirror along one wall and a metal bench out front. It’s not such a detriment when there is waterfront in such close range.

So what was it that made this experience so “eerie”? The thing of it was when I peered into the ice cream case, all of the vats of ice cream had a virginal unscooped top. It seemed as though no one had been here yet.

A quick sample confirmed that black raspberry was the way to go with my flavor choice. The scoops had both a very rich creaminess and a tangy fruity feel. It’s a balance that can be tough to achieve and each bite seemed to present things differently, but that all served to make this a more interesting cone.

black raspberry sandpiper ice cream greenport ny tubs

As you can tell, this is not a picture of the cone I ate. It is a picture of the tubs of ice cream a few days after my first visit. My camera decided to reject the data card that I had taken a days worth of pictures on and when the information was irretrievable, I hit reset and had to backtrack. No one else was getting a cone for me to fake it, though I directed a few girls here when they were loudly wandering and hunting for ice cream.

Cone – regular $3.75 medium $4.50 large $4.75

Sundae $4.95 banana split $5.95

Malt Shake $5.50

Sandpiper Ice Cream

142 Main Street, Greenport, NY 11944

631 477-1154

Open Memorial Day-Columbus Day

Hours 11a-11p

Sandpiper online





Scoop It Up

4 06 2009

In the Boston area, the Jimmy Fund is such a renowned charity that many folks think that the sprinkles that many people top their cones with are named jimmies because of it. We’ve debunked that myth previously, but the Jimmy Fund invades into our ice cream quest by taking over City Hall Plaza for a three day throwdown known as the Scooper Bowl.

scooper bowl

Back in high school,  my friends and I would come in to the Common and gorge ourselves on so many samples that we’d wind up moaning in glorious agony for the entire road home. This year, the twenty-seventh annual event will take place from noon to 8p on June 9, 10, & 11. Last year, they raised over $345,000, bringing the grand total to over $2 million to help the Jimmy Fund. If you want to get a wide sample of a variety of ice cream all in one place, this is where you should be. I know we will. Say hello….





Ron’s Gourmet – Hyde Park MA

3 06 2009

Somehow, we made it to Ron’s before they closed, it seemed like we tried everything in our power to be late. We even got halfway there before I realized I left my camera on my friends’ couch and we turned back around. As it were four of us made our way down to Hyde Park, and no one was disappointed. I took on a Brownie Nut cone.

ron's gourmet ice cream bowling hyde park ma

Ron’s is a candlepin bowling alley, but over the years since they started making ice cream in the early eighties, what they’re known for has certainly changed. This place is revered for their ice cream, being both the Phantom Gourmet’s favorite, and even more notably, named the third best ice cream in the world by National Geographic. All of this from humble beginnings that only began when their soft-serve supplier sent them the wrong stuff.

Inside is a marvel, if you face toward the bowling, you see ten lanes that look like you could be anywhere in the USA. Turn around and you get a classic old style ice cream parlor. There are a bunch of booths comfortably spaced around the area, though I’m sure cones are not welcome on the parquet. There’s lots of signage on the brick facades outside, but no exterior seating as it is located on a high speed thoroughfare that cuts from Jamaica Plain to Milton.

Apparently, Ron’s trip to international notoriety came in the early nineties when Hillary Clinton stopped here while campaigning for health care. She sent Secret Service agents back for more and later spoke of Ron’s on CNN as her favorite ice cream she’d ever have. From there things spiraled, and nearly every local celebrity has made a pit stop here while in the neighborhood.

I started with a sample of the Peanut Butter Explosion, which was just as it said, a truly amazing peanut butter ice cream, and then sampled Lemon Coolers (they used to be my favorite cookies growing up but now you can’t find them anywhere). The peanut butter seemed to heavy for a whole cone at the moment, and the lemon washed my palate (would be a perfect after-lunch cone when you don’t have the freedom to take a nap). For no good reason, I turned to the brownie nut to fill my cone. It was a fantastic blend of elements that tasted like a brownie sundae reconfigured put back into the freezer. The brownies and chocolate were great and the ice cream easily matches up with any other local city ice cream. My only problem was that my cone came from the bottom of the barrel, so the nuts weren’t strikingly fresh as they can be in the best ice cream, but odds are good when they make the next batch, that will be remedied. This is a place to take all of your friends that will remind you of the possibilities available in places we don’t think to go around town.

brownie nut ice cream ron's gourmet hyde park ma

We decided that a place like this was worth making an event of it, which is why it’s taken so long for us to get here. We piled into Sam’s van and four of us made the trek together. Sam and Shane each had bowls of ice cream with two flavors (Sam: Banana & Grapenut, Shane: Cheesecake & Birthday Bash) (aside: the birthday bash was the only flavor that went unfinished, but that’s because it’s super sweet, even those that like cake batter were astonished that this went to the amazing extremes that it does, good, but overwhelming), while Greg had a cone like I did (he’d recently found his way to Rota Spring, so he had a basis for comparison when it comes to the best around).

Cone – kids $2.75 regular $3.50 large $4.50

Sundae – kids $3.75 regular $4.75 large $5.75 XL $6.75

Frappe $4.95 extra thick $5.95

Ron’s Gourmet Ice Cream & 20th Century Bowling

1231 Hyde Park Ave., Hyde Park, MA 02136

617 364-5274

Open year round

Monday-Thursday 7:30a-10p, Friday-Saturday 7:30a-11p, Sunday 9a-10p

http://ronsicecream.com





So Friendly It’s Free

2 06 2009

So it seems like every retailer is having a free day of ice cream to show how much they care. Wal-Mart did it, though this time around instead of hosting a giant ice cream social as they did last year, they just handed out prepackaged ice cream snacks. Heck, this Wednesday night, Sonic* is offering a free root beer float. Truth be told, if you’re going to give us something for free that’s cool and all, but we do prefer that what we get is something real.

events_Special

Friendly’s makes it easy and right. Free ice cream. An actual cone (or bowl). All you need to do is show up at the right time. Unfortunately for me, I’ll be inside the friendly confines of Belmont Park during this swatch of time. Please enjoy your ice cream a little extra for me and Calvin Borel.

* Sonic sure advertises a lot nationally for me to know this… unfortunately I am not planning a drive to suburban Allentown PA for a free 10 oz. beverage. That is the nearest location to Boston.





Berlin Farms – Berlin MA

1 06 2009

My little brother worked here for one day. It wasn’t that he did anything wrong and got fired, it was that everyone who worked there were all attending a wedding on the same day and my brother and his friend served up the scoops. That was a different era, but the Strawberry cone that I was served was the same stuff as they had back then.

berlin farms ice cream berlin ma

This land is steeped in history with a small handful of people tending the property since John Bruce first farmed here in 1770. In the 1930s, Chedco Farm was built and it’s this edifice that remains to this day. Barry O’Brien bought the property in 1986, and changed the name to Berlin Orchards. He closed the property in 2005 and died a few months later and the ice cream shoppe was reopened in 2006 by current owner Jennifer Cermak who rechristened the place Berlin Farms.

There is a large gourmet food store in a refurbished barn, and a restaurant with an entrance near the ice cream window. The farm is lush and sprawling, despite 100 acres being donated to a local school and some lots being sold off for development. The land that remains is used for raising and breeding endangered barnyard animals including horses, turkeys, rabbits, sheep, and ducks.

The ice cream window is just that, a single window. There’s a board with all of the flavors posted on it and a small dry-erase board for specials and upcoming events. The only indoor seating is in the restaurant which is a somewhat separate enterprise, but there are picnic tables and lawn chairs abound, in addition to all of the animal pens behind the parking lot.

The ice cream offered up here isn’t made on the premises, in fact, theirs comes from Richardson’s. Even knowing that it’s the same stuff I had just days ago in Roslindale, somehow it tastes better in this far more idyllic setting. This time i opted for a simple strawberry cone – my nephew recommended the flavor choice to me. The pink ice cream was lightly creamy with small pieces (no big chunks) of frozen strawberry in the mix. A nice simple strawberry for a cool early June day.

strawberry ice cream berlin farms ma

With the odd combination of ice cream and animals, Berlin Farms has found a way to fuse the two interests as a prime location for kids birthday parties. What they’ve got going on are the Pony and Barnyard Parties. I’m presuming that’s just what it seems since they have regular pony rides available on weekends from 1p-4p. For those even more inclined they’ve got a summer riding program. I wonder if the horses get to eat the leftover ice cream.

Cone – small $3.50 medium $4.50 large $5.50

Sundae – small $4.50 large $5.50 banana boats $5.95

Frappe $4.50 extra thick $5.25

Berlin Farms

200 Central St, Berlin, MA 01503

617 710-8810

Open April-November

Hours 11a-8p

http://berlinfarms.com/berlin_farms.html








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