Cones Across the Berkshires

31 07 2009

It’s amazing when I look at the amount of ice cream that I’ve eaten in Massachusetts. What amazes me more is when I look at a map and realize how many places I haven’t been. I’ve really only taken one trip out to Western Mass and didn’t get past Easthampton that time. In this weeks Advocate, Kelly Bevan takes us all the way west.


I need to go check out the Tanglewood calendar to see if I can find a good excuse to get out this way. It’s been a long time since I made it out to see Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. The only other times I’ve stopped out here are usually lunch breaks on a return from Poughkeepsie or Ithaca.

Return Engagement: Louie’s – Somerville MA

30 07 2009

Last time we came to Louie’s we were in this neighborhood after recovering my car from a tow lot due to a vengeful neighbor. Tonight, it wasn’t the original destination in mind but after encountering a darkened storefront at location number one, it seemed like a good time to give Louie’s another try. I got a Coffee Almond Fudge cone and Noell went with Grapenut Custard.

louie's east somerville ice cream mass winter hill foss park

Last time we were here we couldn’t find much of a back story on this place. The fact that it used to be much more than an ice cream shack is apparent from the neon that they don’t illuminate anymore. The style of the fonts and the menu boards make it possible that this place arose anywhere from the fifties until the seventies.

Winter Hill residents made sure to decry that I even mentioned the proximity of their neighborhood to this place last time. Louie’s is securely in East Somerville, even if the two places are divided by Foss Park & Rt 38. Hopefully I can find a truce between these factions as my band is scheduled to play a show in this park over Labor Day (Foss Fest – September 5).

The menu board was again ruled by masking tape that edited the entire original menu of flavors. They’d almost forgotten the basics and “Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry” were crammed onto one line at the top as an afterthought. Maybe I should have double-checked to make sure that wasn’t actually a Neapolitan.

I had a single taste and it was the coffee almond fudge that I ended up with. We did discover that Louie’s Frozen Pudding is more of an English pudding or a fruitcake as it is packed with odd chunks of dried fruit. My cone was nice with a rich fudge swirled through a bold coffee with lots of whole almonds mixed throughout. What is odd is that I had the same problem here as I did last time in that the cone melted all over my hand in most obscene fashion. Maybe the heat from the sidewalk was more than I realized, but it seemed as though my cone was out to make a mockery of me.

Coffee Almond Fudge ice cream louies louie's east somerville mass ma massachusetts

Theories on my melting ice cream are welcome. After having slaved over a hot stove and passed out as soon as I got in the path of a fan the past two nights, it actually seemed pretty nice out on this night. We spent more than an hour in the night air amidst the bustle of the neighborhood, and I wasn’t sweating a fraction as much as my cone did.

Original Visit:

Cone – small $3.00 medium $3.50 large $4.00

Sundae – regular $4.95 large $5.95

Louie’s Ice Cream

193 Broadway, Somerville, MA 02145-2120


Open seasonally

Monday-Thurs 12a-10p, Friday-Sunday 12a-11p

Louie’s online

Cups and Cones – Winchester MA

27 07 2009

With National Ice Cream Month nearing its end, I’ve been trying to take advantage of my off days and have been venturing to towns that I haven’t been to a shoppe. Since it wasn’t beach weather, I didn’t head to the shore and instead found my maps pointed to Winchester where I landed this Chocolate Walnut Fudge cone.

cup and cone ice cream winchester ma

Despite the fact that Cups And Cones has only been here since May, ice cream at this location has been around for nearly fifteen years. Most recently the store was called Karol’s Ice Cream And Italian Pastry until it was sold to new owner Tom Cullen earlier this year. Originally this place was Yankee Yogurt, and at some point it was also called Andi’s.

Downtown Winchester is neatly split by the train depot for the Lowell-Boston line. I parked on the green side and wandered around checking out the storefronts of this little downtown. Cups and Cones is located at the perimeter of the buildings, much further on and things get residential. Within the brick-sidewalked streets though there is an array of odd boutiques, a shoehorned CVS, a trophy shop, and even a Christian Science Reading Room.

Inside is a small shop with a checkerboard floor and a few tables, and across the street there is are four benches arranged in a square where I sat to eat. As the flavor list certainly pointed out, the ice cream here is provided by Richardson’s. This place seems to operate by getting their stuff from quality local businesses: the pastries are from the North End, the slush is Richie’s.

Knowing what to expect from the ice cream I went with the chocolate walnut fudge to fill my cone without taking any samples. The small cone was bigger than I expected, which brought me back inside afterwards for some napkins to wipe the chocolate out of my beard – whenever there is more than a single scoop, napkins are an imperative. The ice cream was nice, with the nuts and fudge really making a fun mess of things. The nuts didn’t have that freshly cracked taste that makes the best ice creams better, but this was just what I needed.

chooclate fudge walnut ice cream cup and cone winchester mass ma

After eating a cone, I realized that I needed some real food as well. I walked around scoping out the restaurants and landed at Nelson’s Bakery. As soon as I walked inside the first thing I noticed was a freezer case full of tubs of ice cream and frozen yogurt. The source for their ice cream is Puritan from Jamaica Plain, which I was surprised by since I thought they only supplied to restaurants and not any parlors. The owner was more shocked that I had even heard of Puritan. Instead of going with another cone, I had a great ham and brie sandwich that could only have been improved upon if the mustard had not been on the same side as the brie.

Cone – kids $2.85 regular $3.80 large $4.29

Sundae – regular $5.95 large $6.49

Frappe $5.75

Cups and Cones

527 Main St, Winchester, MA 01890-2914

781 729-1735

Open year round or maybe closed for a few months in the Winter

Hours 11a-10p

Cups And Cones online

Golden Spoon – Hopkinton MA

25 07 2009

Since I drove back to my parents’ house after the rehearsal dinner, I had a western approach to the wedding today. Thankfully what that meant was that I drove past other ice cream shoppes, and not that my landmarks were totally changed. The barn that marked the wedding site could have been ashes. Instead I just found a Grapenut cone.

golden spoon ice cream hopkinton ma

The auxiliary ice cream window is a strange phenomenon. The Golden Spoon is a diner that opens before six in the morning and closes after lunch. For some reason, they changed the way things operate and there is a window that remains open until nine at night. While it explicitly declares that it is for ice cream, that window also serves up a full complement of burgers and sandwiches and more options than you find most anywhere without seats.

If you are looking to eat your cone and sit down though, that is a challenge. There are two picnic tables wedged into spots near the restaurant itself, but most of the lot is a cast expanse of pavement. The heat radiating from the asphalt made it seem as though I might melt before my cone did, but some trees along the perimeter provided enough shade to stop both processes.

This place is located just off 495, and if you continue east from here, it is not very far to the starting line for the Boston Marathon. I’d figure that this place opens to serve scoops the weekend before that happens, as it is the biggest attraction of people to this town every year, and I can’t imagine the owners wouldn’t want to take full advantage of that.

The menu is limited to fourteen flavors and one more that rotates. That variable choice was Grapenut, so that’s the one I went with today. The ice cream was rich and dense and the cereal hadn’t turned to mush the way these are apt to over time. It was a nice cone, but I was baffled by the way that it was melting over my fingers and yet the core of the cone was nearly subarctic. The cookie of the cone itself however was truly terrible, and I was a bit surprised when I found the Keebler copyright on the paper wrapper. It’s a rare time that I don’t eat the cone after the ice cream is gone, but this is a time I was thankful for nearby woods – that’s where I tossed it.

grapenut ice cream golden spoon hopkinton ma

There was no ice cream at Ramsey and Amber’s wedding, so I didn’t ruin my appetite despite my efforts. The lamb chops that came around on an appetizer tray could be the only other thing I eat than ice cream if I found a recipe for them. I ate more than my share of strawberry shortcake, drank amply, and played some great ping-pong with a girl that was back to Atlanta too soon. It’s great to gather with friends and celebrate. We need to find more excuses to get together. I’ll meet you soon for a cone.

Cone – kiddie $2.75 small $3.50 large $4.25

Sundae –kiddie $4.25 small $4.75 large $5.25

Frappe $4.50 malt $5

Golden Spoon

85 W Main St, Hopkinton, MA 01748

508 435-6922

Open April-October

Daily 11a-9p

Golden Spoon online

Nick’s – Ashland MA

24 07 2009

Despite looking at a map for directions to Ramsey’s rehearsal dinner and looking at another for possible ice cream shops in the area, I didn’t overlay the two maps. When I drove by Nick’s, I thought I was off course. It wound up that I was right where I should be, so I stepped to the window for a Peppermint cone.

nick's ice cream ashland mass

From the looks of things, Nick’s would seem like the sort of ice cream joint that is only open from whenever things warm up until the week after Labor Day. But  while this place may make good homemade ice cream, they have a full menu of diner food and fried fish, and indoor seating that helps it stay open most of the year. The girl that served me my cone even claimed that they were only closed in December.

With Sundays set aside for classic car shows and Tuesdays given to Karaoke, Nick’s is a solid part of this neighborhood beyond merely providing frozen treats. There’s a long handicapped ramp that allows anyone to make it up to the windows, and a full seating section of picnic tables strewn on the lawn in front. Inside are a few tables and a glassless window that is likely the only one that opens when the temperatures dip.

Despite the fact there was no line, I got stuck behind two guys who seemed to have mastered the art of ordering from a turtle, and stunningly there was only one person working those windows during the six o’clock hour on a Friday night. Given the way things smelled, I figured the entire town might have turned out for a fried clam feast.

Since I was motoring, I didn’t go for any samples. With only fifteen flavors on their menu, there weren’t really any surprises (and no special flavors), so I went with peppermint. There weren’t chunks of peppermint stick in the mix, but there was a swirl of that pink peppermint that had bled through the cone. The flavor was robust, and after taming the overhang, this made for an easy cone to eat while driving, and I downed the last bite of the cone as I hopped out of the car and headed to dinner.

peppermint ice cream nick's nicks ashland mass

Just to quell any possible confusion, there are two different places named Nick’s in Ashland. The other one is a pizza joint, and if they have ice cream, it’s most likely sandwiches and popsicles in a small cooler. Just be sure that you specify Restaurant and Ice Cream rather than Pizza and Seafood if you are going Googling.

Cone – small $2.25 medium $2.85 large $3.25

Sundae – small $3.50 large $4.50

Frappe $3.95

Nick’s Restaurant & Ice Cream

71 Pond St, Ashland MA

508 820-8855

Open January-November

Daily 11a-10p

Nick’s online

Meletharb Ice Cream – Wakefield MA

20 07 2009

There’s nothing that will delay your plans for the day quite like a missing wallet. The only thing that compounds that peril is a missing telephone. It took me a few hours to locate them back at the bar I DJed at last night. After waiting for rush hour traffic to dissipate, I hit the road and found a Baklava cone.

meletharb homemade ice cream wakefield mass ma

Originally located in Wakefield Square, Meletharb’s has been around for more than twenty five years. The name is some mutated backwards variation of the founding family’s name. Now it’s unglamorously located in a strip mall that only exists because it is it at an intersection of two major roads. In any direction beyond here, things quickly become very residential.

The cluster of bicycles stacked just outside the front door may be the best portent of great ice cream. Sure kids are bound to chase the most decrepit truck if it is spewing the right jingle, but braving dusk and the wrath of parents is bound to be for a worthy cause. It’s similar to how I divine the correct restaurant to go to in Chinatown: if I am the only person remotely Occidental, then it is right.

The strip mall didn’t even offer an outdoor bench to watch the day disappear from. The only reason I didn’t just sit down at one of the small circular tables with wrought iron chairs was that my battery died on my camera. I walked out to my car and saved a few chunks from dropping to the ground as I pulled out my computer and opened Photo Booth so I had some image to share. After all of that hassle, I went back inside to eat the bulk of my cone. The pitchers of cold water were a nice touch at the end – as much because I needed to clean up rather than clear my palate.

When I looked at the menu board only one flavor jumped out at me – baklava. I had a sample and realized I didn’t need to taste another, I wanted a full cone of this. The ice cream itself had a very subtle honey flavor, without vanilla overtones, this was much more than a simple sweet cream, but the particulate was the real feature here. While there were some small pieces of the pistachio and flaky dough all through the cone, it was the big pieces that you had to stop and chew that really made this special, it was as nice as a good piece of baklava can be, and even I wouldn’t have guessed that it was a dessert that was translatable to ice cream.

baklava meletharb homemade ice cream wakefield mass ma

Parked where I was, I got a sandwich at Greg’s Roast Beef nearby. The North Shore has more roast beef joints than it does pizza parlors, but the thing that most shocks me is the looks I get when I want horseradish on my roast beef. Today the kid needed help finding it, but the final result was still really good.

Cone – kids $2.60 small $3.75 medium $5 large $6.25

Sundae – small $4.50 medium $5.50 large $6.50

Frappe – $5.75 extra thick $7

Meletharb Homemade Ice Cream

393 Lowell St, Wakefield, MA 01880-1962

781 245-4946

Open year round

Daily noon-10p

Cold Stone Creamery – Charlestown MA

19 07 2009

Last year I celebrated National Ice Cream Day with a grand three state tour that took me from Maine to JP. This year my band had another show, but instead I spent the afternoon with one of my friends back in town for his upcoming nuptials. We made the quick trip to the only ice cream joint in Charlestown where I had a cone with Chocolate and Graham Crackers.

cold stone creamery charlestown ma ice cream

These days, it seems like Cold Stone Creameries are littered all across the landscape. With their recent shared expansion with Tim Horton’s their shoppes have been popping up everywhere. Back in 1988 however, this was a brand new store opening up in Tempe, Arizona hoping to make it as a local entity. The marketing behemoth that has expanded internationally didn’t open it’s first store out of the state until 1997.

Charlestown amazed me when I discovered that the town had only this location for ice cream. With the naval yard and Bunker Hill, it seems like the blend of tourist and residential economy would be perfect to support a mom and pop operation, but the only thing that resembles that is an ice cream truck that is regularly found near the square, but I’ve only read about and never actually seen.

Ramsey and I pointed this way from his Lechmere hotel since it seemed like a better option than aimlessly driving around the North End on a futile parking quest. Here we were able to park right across the street from the store without even needing to plug a meter. Inside there were lots of tables, but we wandered around outside nearby and found a spot with a view of both the Zakim Bridge and the Logan control tower.

While he got one of the pre-made concoctions that had caramel and peanut butter, I sampled both the chocolate and sweet cream ice creams. The sweet cream was more sweet than creamy, so I went with the chocolate and picked graham crackers from the vast array of available mix-ins. The only problem here was that the two elements had no time to combine at all, and the graham does better to absorb some of the moisture from the ice cream, but with most of the other options this isn’t really a factor at all (though I wasn’t even contemplating throwing gummi bears in there instead). The ice cream itself was smooth and fresh but it had no clear chocolate identity, it was like eating any random milk chocolate (which made a tough contrast from the 88% chocolate bar I’d been nibbling through at home over the past few days).

chocolate graham cold stone creamery charlestown ma

I had thought about chasing a second cone when we got to the club to play an afternoon set, but the Fenway landscape has lost all local business personality. When Ramsey saw the gentrified Hotel Commonwealth complex and the new Green Line bus stop, he was aghast. I decided I really didn’t need to head to a Dunkin’ Donuts to get one of 31 flavors. Plus I have tomorrow off so I can make a little road trip on my own.

Cone – kids $1.99 like it $3.50 love it $4 gotta have it $4.50

Milkshake  – like it $4.69 love it $5.19 gotta have it $5.69

Cold Stone Creamery

100 City Square, Charlestown, MA 02129-3721

617 242-0100

Open year round

Daily 11a-11p