The more I write about ice cream, the more I discover people who can’t indulge in it. Some are vegan, others lactose intolerant or diabetic. I’m still not certain what options really work for a friend who was recently diagnosed as a celiac. Organic gelato isn’t the answer, but it is a sign that even ice cream is paying attention to America’s diet needs. Hazelnut gelato was my test cone.
Housed in an actual house on Forest Ave in Portland, Maple’s isn’t the sort of place you expect to find an ice cream shop. However, they’ve been at this location for a few years now. This is where they make their ice cream and baked goods and whatever else happens to be scrawled on the dry erase board on any given day. Last summer they also added a gelateria on Middle Street in the Old Port.
Maple’s has got a USDA Organic logo emblazoned on their stuff and all of their raw materials are certified by MOFGA (the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association). Despite only having been around for a couple years, it has already been named the best ice cream in Portland. And at least one of the picnic tables that are alongside the house are actually under the arms of the maple tree that seems to be the source of the name.
When I had been here last summer the chocolate sorbetto that I ate was truly divine. Today it wasn’t an option, as Maple’s only keeps eight different flavors on hand at any point in time. While the Turkish fig – orange and the cardamom ginger, both seemed enticing, the idea of a pure hazelnet gelato overruled.
Often hazelut gets sucked into some chocolate combo in an attempt to ape Nutella, or a coffee blend like I recall from the scent of nearly every trip to a Bruegger’s for bagels. Maple’s instead let the hazelnut succeed on its own merits. The gelato has the subtle hues of the nut flavoring things, but not dominating the cream. There are large chunks of nuts integrated throughout the mix, and they are what carries the hazelnut when you need an exclamation point of flavor. The only flaw was that the gelato itself is a bit icy in consistency, acting in a way more like a sorbet in its texture.
This is the first gelato place that has actual cones. Sure it costs an extra quarter to get one, but that expense is more than offset by the fact that these are fresh rolled waffle cones and not merely something from a box. An airy cone with a crisp texture and vanilla overtones, it makes me want to try out more of their bakery products.
Cone – small $3.25 large $3.75 (add a cone $.25)
Maple’s Organics Ice Cream & Good Food Bakery