Boston Ice Cream Factory – Dorchester MA

27 09 2009

At first glance, this seems like an annex for Lambert’s next door. I mean it is a grocery store that’s already got a tent on the front that’s filled with outdoor Halloween decorations, but the array of picnic tables in the front of this shoppe are a good sign that there is something more going on here. After scanning through the flavor list, I had a Mudslide cone and my brother Tim went with a bowl of Green Tea.

boston ice cream factory dorchester mass ma

Steve Cirame is more well known as the founder of Christina’s in Inman Square, but he gave up that throne a long while ago. Boston Ice Cream Factory is where he holds down the fort and provides the ice cream base for many of your favorite scoops in Cambridge. With the metal hut roof on this location, it’s completely unassuming, but one look at the menu board makes even the most casual ice cream eater quickly realize that something is afoot.

The shoppe is crammed with old freezers. Some of them are plugged in and facing the patrons and have samples of ice cream cakes. Some of them are unplugged and look like they might not get cold when they next are plugged in without first making an extended trip to the repair shop. It’s really a confusing layout, with only a few tables running parallel to the front windows and the rest of the area filled with miscellaneous stuff that looks as though this shoppe has swallowed the leftovers from every ice cream spot in the city that has gone out of business in the last two decades.

While the ice cream menu here offers up green tea and Marble Crunch along with a full complement of regular options, it’s the specialty flavors that are all infused with alcohol that are most notable (even if they do cost an extra quarter per scoop). Where else can you find Sex on the Beach at an ice cream shoppe? Bananas Foster? Barbados Breeze? The only thing that might have been better is if they actually had all of the flavors listed as I didn’t get to try the Guiness Stout.

My first sample was of the Durian. Apparently it’s an Asian fruit whose stench is so bad that it is banned from mass transit in Singapore. It’s described as a custardy fruit with hints of almond, papaya, and onion. The description was apt and it required a taste, but I can’t imagine it working as a whole cone. While I was navigating to figure out what options were in stock, Tim got green tea and my spoonful was nice with the subtle hints of the tea making a clean ice cream. I tried the Rum Raisin, but the rum flavor seemed to be in the fruit and not the ice cream, so I decided on the Mudslide. The combination of Bailey’s, Kahlua, and vodka made this a potent frozable, though the texture was remarkably soft. This was the sort of ice cream that bars ought to keep in stock… I was fantasizing about having this scoop as the topper of a beer float.

mudslide boston ice cream factory dorchester mass ma

We meandered North along the coast since there wasn’t anything else to do until Mad Men, so Tim and I wound up wandering around Castle Island. Like most places in Boston the name is vestigial from a time before landfill gave the city the mass it now has. Watching planes fly into the fog and disappear above us was fun, but we didn’t try to circle all of Pleasure Bay since neither of us were sure whether we could actually take the path all of the way around.

Cone – small $2.75 medium $3.80 large $4.75

Sundae – small $4.95 large $5.95

Frappe $4.75 xtra thick $5.95

Boston Ice Cream Factory

777 William T Morrissey # A, Dorchester, MA 02122-3331

617 436-2189

Open year round

Daily noon-9p, til 7p October-March

Boston Ice Cream Factory online





The Ice Creamsmith – Lower Mills MA

27 09 2009

A rainy Sunday scrapped my plans. I guess the fact that it was raining like this meant that moving the Bolton Fair to mid-August had been prescient, even if it still seems sacrilegious to traditionalists. I was supposed to go to Cape Ann with a high school friend that I usually meet up with at the Fair, but instead my brother Tim and I went the other direction and found a Maple Walnut cone and an Apple n’ Spice cone with Heath mix-ins.

the ice creamsmith Dorchester Lower Mills Boston Mass MA ice cream

Opened in June of 1976, the Ice Creamsmith has been serving scoops to the Dorchester Lower Mills village for over thirty years. David Mabel and his wife Robyn have been keeping this place open from March 1 until Thanksgiving every year since. Located right by the old mill buildings on the Neponset River, their name comes from a riff on the tradesmen that used to work the area. Sure making ice cream isn’t the same as pounding iron ore, but blacksmith and ice creamsmith both do the work for you.

While the walls of the shop are covered with ice cream related comics and articles on the shop itself, the storefront itself is pretty tiny with only ten seats and a single bench out on the sidewalk. It’s interesting to wander in areas like this that have been undergoing a real revitalization. Those mill buildings aren’t abandoned shells, but instead have been converted mostly into condominiums, and with a Milton train stop just across the river, there is easy access to the entire city.

The menu is really simple with ten basic flavors, three seasonal specials and a single yogurt and sorbet selection each. There aren’t any weirdly named flavors, but what they do here is keep their ice cream relatively soft since much of their business is based on the mix-ins that they provide. While Steve Herrell may have developed the idea for the mix-in back in 1973, the Ice Creamsmith has been doing it longer consecutively than anyone. As a result, some statistician calculated that there are 2112 flavors available here, though I’m not sure what happens to those permutations when people want multiple mix-ins in a single scoop.

I tasted the Indian Pudding first, and then opted for the maple walnut instead. The maple sugars were rich and powerful and compelled me to get this and the pieces of nuts were all still crunchy. The ice cream was soft and creamy (all the ice cream is made here in five gallon batches using Hood’s ice cream mix), and with nuts already hanging in solution, I didn’t need to add another mix-in. Tim made a surprisingly good selection putting Heath into his apple ‘n spice – I had a spoonful just to make sure.

maple walnut the ice creamsmith Dorchester Lower Mills Boston Mass MA ice cream

This place is about as far south as you can get and still technically be in Boston. It’s kind of amazing the amount of territory that the city swallowed up, and it makes it even more astounding that Brookline was the lone hold out. This is an area that I know very little about, so it was nice that Tim had found this place while tutoring nearby and thus was able to drive here without our needing to triple check maps on the way.

Cone – junior $2.24 small $3.57 large $4.76

Sundae – junior $4 small $5.33 large $6.52

Frappe $5 malted $5.57 extra scoop $7.24

The Ice Creamsmith

2295 Dorchester Ave, Dorchester Lower Mills, MA 02124

617 296-8567

Open March 1-Thanksgiving

Daily noon-10p

http://www.theicecreamsmith.com/





2009 New England Dessert Showcase

26 09 2009

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from a showcase of local dessert makers. It didn’t help any that I went to the wrong Marriott first, but Long Wharf and Custom House aren’t two blocks away from each other so the fact that I had just filled a parking meter with quarters was ok. My wariness escalated however when I spied the Cholives booth between the two check-in tables.

making brownies

I started by taking a tour of the entire floor and figuring out what was here. Mostly it was cupcakes. It seems as though the craze from New York has finally made its way up the coast. There were a few chocolatiers and some people who had devoted themselves to singular items. The first thing I tasted was a Bean Pie that drew nice parallels with sweet potato pie. There was even a demonstration on a makeshift stage where they made brownies, but it seemed like the only people watching all had cameras.

the only ice cream

Despite what I’d been hoping, the only dessert that included ice cream was at the booth for the Chart House, a restaurant that shares Long Wharf with this hotel. Their Hot Chocolate Lava Cake usually takes thirty minutes to prepare as the chocolate cake has a molten Godiva Chocolate Liqueur center, but here we were shown miniatures that were microwaved for a minute. The dessert is topped with Dreyer’s vanilla ice cream, chocolate sauce and Heath bar crunch. I’m always surprised that a place that takes such care with the cake just accepts whatever ice cream Sysco brings, even the executive chef who was describing the dessert swallowed his words when he realized that I was more interested in the ice cream than the way it was displayed. As a little treat this was a nice cake, and it would be nice to taste it on a full scale.

pictures of cupcakes

But really, it was the cupcakes that dominated the proceedings. There seemed to be cameramen everywhere I turned, and every time they pushed me backwards in order to get a shot, I seemed to stumble over small Asian women and had to catch them to keep them from falling over like dominoes. There were a few local bakers there with nice cookies, and the Godiva chocolates were insanely decadent but in less than an hour I had sampled something from every booth and it wasn’t yet lunchtime.

new england aquarium dippin' dots ice cream

With another hour on my meter, I wandered around to take a survey of other ice cream joints near Long Wharf. The most obvious is the Dippin’ Dots stand right in front of the Aquarium. Unfortunately, there was no one manning it and that leads me to assume they are done there for the year if no one was working at noon on a Saturday. Plus there’s the entire question of just how I’m supposed to classify those frozen treats.

harborside gifts ice cream long wharf

On the wharf itself, there is an ice cream window that is part of the gift shop attached to the Boston Harbor Cruises building. Harborside Gifts is mostly there for folks to buy hats and t-shirts and plastic lobsters. The two girls working were both wholly engrossed in their books as I went by, and with the line of people getting ready to board a boat, I just shrugged and walked by. It was pretty apparent that they weren’t making their own ice cream here anyhow.

emack and bolio's ice cream financial district

Just around the corner is an Emack & Bolio’s and while the doors were swung open, I didn’t see any employees inside. This is the only place around who makes their own ice cream locally, but  I haven’t always had the best luck at any of the shoppes in this chain. I did get a Passion Fruit sorbet at the Brookline location a few weeks ago that really was pretty great, so I won’t malign them entirely, but at this time of day I was far more inclined to a sandwich, I had enough sugar still coursing through my veins from the 2009 New England Dessert Showcase.





Twist & Shake – Revere Beach MA

23 09 2009

I woke up this morning way too early because I was supposed to cover for a radio show and the DJ before me called in sick. After figuring my way in and doing the show, I still had a few hours to kill before I had to go to work. I couldn’t figure out what to eat until I found myself at the beach with a fresh tub of Pistachio ice cream in front of me.

twist and n & shake ice cream revere beach mass ma

From the outside, it’s tough to determine much of anything about this art deco building that houses Twist & Shake. The traditional 50s malt shop vibe is thrown before you even go inside due to the fact that the menu seems to have been tagged on the outside of the building by an overly helpful graffiti artist. Inside it does bring you back to a classic beachside ice cream stand with a few tables for those afraid of getting the sand blown into their cone.

Sheryl and Mark Queen own this store and its sister in Winthrop. Here on the beach, they close the doors for the year in October, but their second shoppe in Winthrop stays open year round. While the two of them proudly proclaim that they have completed Penn State’s Ice Cream Short Course, they make most use of that in scooping techniques and mixing in soft serve flavors, because the ice cream they serve here comes from Richardson’s.

On the first day of Fall, the beach has only a few stragglers trying to catch rays despite the day’s humidity. Hopefully the weekends still keep things a bit active here, but it seems as though other nearby ice cream joints are already boarded up for the season. The lack of competition helps keep things from being silent, but as soon as the leaves start landing on the sidewalks, even this might seem like a boom.

I started with a sample of the apple crisp, but found again that the crisp part of the equation was missing. Instead I opted for pistachio to fill my sugar cone. The nut flavor was nice within the light green ice cream, but the nuts had already begun to soften within the mixture. The ice cream itself had the consistent quality that Richardson’s is known for, with a smooth and easy ice cream presenting itself quite simply. While this isn’t worth the trip alone, if you’re on the beach this is going to fill any craving just fine.

pistachio ice cream twist and n & shake revere beach massachusetts mass ma

One of my favorite things about shoppes like this is the glass front on the case with the tubs of ice cream. Looking in can give you a good idea as to what is fresh or what is riddled with ice crystals already. When something is down to its last scoop, you really need to want that flavor badly. My decision today for the pistachio was made almost entirely because the scoop had been pulled across the top of this flavor only once, most of the top was still in pristine untouched condition.

Cone – kiddie $2.50 small $3.50 large $4.25

Sundae –kiddie $3.50 small $4.50 large $5.50

Frappe $4.75

Twist & Shake

82 Revere Beach Blvd, Revere, MA 02151-3640

781 286-2900

Open April-October 15; Winthrop store open year round

Hours ?a-?p

http://www.twistnshake.com/





Dessert Showcase Comes To Boston

21 09 2009

While we certainly have declared our favorite after dinner food over and over again here at this blog, by no means does that mean that we disparage anyone whose efforts go into cakes or pies or truffles or tarts or any other dessert option. Thankfully some people were thinking have brought together all of the best dessertiers from around New England for the 2009 New England Dessert Showcase this Saturday, September 26 at the Long Wharf Marriott.

header_master

Advance tickets for the event are available for $25 ($35 day of), and it offers up desserts from all around the region. There’s no list yet of who will be attending, but we’re hoping that at least a few of them will be featuring frozen treats as we’re going to be sending some correspondents to see how completely we can indulge ourselves. If you sign up in advance there is an opening night party at the Greatest Bar as well, but if this event is as good as advertised, it may be worth fasting the night before.





Soc’s – Saugus MA

20 09 2009

I‘m not sure what the parameters are that allow ice cream shoppes to proclaim ‘homemade’ ice cream. I was searching around Melrose, but it seemed that every location served ice cream that was ‘homemade’ by Richardson’s in Middletown. Soc’s makes thing clear when it says “made on the premises,” so I got a Reverse Chocolate Chip cone.

soc's ice cream saugus mass ma

Despite the way this place sounds when you say the name out loud, I couldn’t find any baseball iconography anywhere around the stand. It turns out that instead of being named for our red stockinged nine, this place was actually named for the original owner who went by the name Socrates. In 1989, Soc’s was bought by the Calakoutis family and has been in their control since.

The ice cream stand is located on the Lynn Fells Parkway just into Saugus, right now there’s a hideous bit of road construction going on, but as soon as you start to get frustrated, there is Soc’s. It’s a roadside stand that’s separated from the road by an ugly chain link fence, but once you turn into the lot all you see are smiling faces. There’s an inside area with a few booths, but most people were out under the trees where the picnic tables are stuffed as thick as can be. During the winter when the ice cream is gone, they keep things going by using this area to sell Christmas trees.

With two windows open and a short line, this seemed like it was going to be easy. However, the line to my left took a turn for the treacherous when the dad unfolded a piece of paper from his pocket with an extensive to go order, and to the right was a girl who worked at the shop who was treating all of her friends to her employee discount. After some extended mindless banter, I finally got to the window and had a sample of the Smores ice cream. With improper punctuation (S’mores would be proper) and whole mini marshmallows in the mix, I wasn’t so impressed.

I wound up with a reverse chocolate chip cone. Large chunks of white chocolate were held in the milky creamy chocolate ice cream. This was a clean and fresh cone, but there were two things about it that really made it stand out. My first bite seemed especially cold and I was expecting that as a result the ice cream was going to be extremely hard, but that assumption was wrong. Despite the cold, the ice cream had almost a soft-serve consistency, making this quick and easy and refreshing. I’m not sure what they do different in the process, but it oddly lived up to my expectations as I had initially thought that Soc’s was just a soft-serve joint.

reverse chocolate chip soc's ice cream saugus mass ma

Things were so calm and nice here that I forgot when I put my camera on the table to pick it back up. It wasn’t until I had left and was walking around Melrose looking for a sandwich that I realized my camera was gone. When I pulled back in the driveway, I saw the red light flicker on the table in the same place I left it. Most people were eating cones in their cars as dusk had finally passed, and no one had even noticed it sitting there. I picked it up and drove back toward a waiting gyro.

Cone – kids $2.85 small $3.35 medium $4 large $4.50

Sundae – small $4 medium $4.50 large $5 super $9

Frappe $4.29 extra thick $4.75

Soc’s Ice Cream

67 Lynn Fells Pkwy, Saugus, MA 01906-4421

781 233-0009

Open April – late October/early November

Hours 11a-11p ?

http://socsicecream.com/





Harvard Square Herrell’s Closing

18 09 2009

Word spread like wildfire when Jeffrey Stanett announced that he was closing down Herrell’s in Harvard Square by November. A number of factors played into the decision, and the recent addition of a JP Licks closer to the Harvard campus didn’t help at all. Stanett plans to retain the location and put a new restaurant in place by the Spring.

herrells

The decision to close down this store comes on the heels of the announcement by Allston Cafe this past summer that they were leaving the Herrell’s family and going independent and being supplied by Coop’s Microcreamery. Herrell’s has been trying to establish its franchise potential after opening a store on Long Island last year, but the measures taken have alienated their Boston base in trying to switch from handshake agreements to contractual obligations and ice cream royalties.

More in the Harvard Crimson

More on Boston.com

Letter from Toscanini’s Gus Rancatore








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