Return Engagement: Cedar Hill Dairy Joy – Weston MA

31 08 2009

Of all the locations that I’ve been to over the course of this blog, it’s this review that is the most visited. Sure, it’s in large part because they don’t have a website of their own (though they are on Facebook if you check the link at the bottom), but they also make soft-serve the right way. Today, I had a Creamsicle cone.

cedar hil dairy joy weston mass ma ice cream soft serve sherbet

The ice cream stand was built in 1927 by farmer Charles Cahill, who owned a 250 acre dairy farm with over 100 head of cattle. He closed down around 1940, and in 1949 there was a fire that destroyed most of the abandoned buildings on the farm. After that two area high school teachers bought the dairy bar while the rest of the land became the King’s Grant neighborhood. In the early 1960s, the Maxwell family took over and brought fried foods to the stand, most notably the revered fried clams. Cedar Hill Dairy Joy is still in the family.

Unless you show up at the odd late afternoon hours that I stopped by today, odds are good that you’re going to be standing in line because this place is usually a glowing mecca until they close the windows. The grill here is as busy as the freezers with burgers being flipped and hot dog buns being warmed for lobster rolls. The food is good, but the best part of it is the near mandatory indulgence that follows.

On either side of the stand there is a bank of picnic tables, with the right side offering a bit of protection in cases of inclement weather. Around that is a parking lot that is often home to some creative parking spots since there aren’t any lines on the pavement. Ringing the parking lot are a few more picnic tables placed on a small grassy halo. As long as you like eating outside, your options are well covered.

I don’t know when I’ve stopped here and not got the Javaberry. The coffee and black raspberry swirl is a combination that fits ideally together. With a vanilla and chocolate swirl also an option, i picked the third choice, the creamsicle. A swirl of vanilla ice cream and orange sherbet, these two flavors are put into a nice balance side by side in a cone (no sugar cones available). While neither flavor is very bold in this mix, sometimes this combination works better like this when there is a bit of compromise at work instead of having the tart citrus and the creamy vanilla in a full war.

creamsicle cedar hil dairy joy weston mass ma ice cream soft serve sherbet

Thankfully, this wasn’t too far out of the way, heck it’s on the main path I take whenever I drive west. A weekend without a cone left me in a severe state of withdrawl. Hopefully my car will emerge safe and ready to venture across New England in search of more marvelous cones soon.

First Visit:

Cone – small $2.80 medium $3.75 large $5.37

Sundae – pixie $3.65 small $4.76 large $5.71

Frappe $4.62 extra thick $5.24 (add malt +$.50)

Cedar Hill Dairy Joy

331 North Ave, 117, Weston, MA 02493

(781) 894-7144

Open seasonally

Hours 11a-9p

Dairy Joy online

Prospect Cafe – Waltham MA

28 08 2009

There’s nothing as miserable as a Check Engine light coming on in your car. The only thing worse is when you find out that the reason is far more complex than merely the need to replace a gas cap. After a stop at AutoZone for a free diagnostic, I figured an oil change might clarify things even more. While my car was being prodded by mechanics, I walked across the street for a Skor frozen yogurt.

prospect cafe ice cream pizzeria waltham mass ma frozen yogurt

This area of Waltham is full of mechanics and body shops and just about every destination for post-industrial repair. What you’re not expecting to find here is anyplace beyond a corner store for food. Prospect Cafe isn’t much more than a local pizza joint when you walk in the main door, but when you peek on the other side a menu board full of flavor options for frozen yogurt presents itself.

If you look at the awning outside, it does indeed say ice cream, but inside there is none of that, just yogurt. The cafe has a full menu of sandwich options and caters to nearby Bentley students with pastas, pizzas, calzones, wraps, and salads as well. The full array of organic salads on their gourmet menu is a good sign that despite what things look like outside, this is a very suburban locale.

Prospect Cafe underwent ownership changes in the past few years and alientated some of their clientele and found a new audience all at the same time. Inside a bunch of simple tables and chairs are overpacked into the two small areas in front of the counter. When I went in, there was no one else around and I sat at the table in front of the television where the idle employees were watching Spike.

After a sandwich, I ordered a Butterscotch cone. I was firstly vetoed in the fact that they didn’t have any cones. The second change was my own as I watched the guy grab a handful of butterscotch hard candies and made a quick switch to toffee. He cracked the bar and dropped it into an extruder which pushed out a freshly mixed concoction. The yogurt had none of the tang that many more recent fro-yo spots promote, instead it seemed like a simple soft serve. Despite my love of dairy, I’m not a fan of real yogurts, so this did me just right.

skor frozen yogurt prospect cafe ice cream pizzeria waltham mass ma

Returning to my car, it seemed as though a few different mechanics we in agreement that the problem was going to be a $900+ fix. As much as I want a healthy vehicle, I decided to ask around and I found a guy who only works on Beetles who told me that the issue is usually a smaller part that isn’t quite so dire to my wallet. I’ve got an appointment Tuesday morning to find out, but it may curtail my driving all around tarnation this weekend for the last scoops of Summer. It’s supposed to rain torrentially anyway.

Cup plain $3.50 additional flavor +$.75

Sundae $4.75

Yogurt Milkshake $3.86

Prospect Cafe & Pizzeria

137 Prospect St, Waltham MA 02452

781 736-7979

Open year round

Daily 11a-11p

Gigi Gelateria – Boston MA

27 08 2009

Yesterday, I mentioned a phone call from my friend Gabe who arrived in town seemingly at random. We met up for lunch and went to an alleged seafood place in Allston whose only seafood offerings were rubbery shrimp. When his other plans got delayed for a few hours, I decided we ought to head to the North End and cleanse our palates. I got a Strawberry cone and he got a Chocolate Hazelnut gelato.

[pix pending]

Gigi Gelateria seems to have taken over Hanover Street. In addition to the main shop here in the middle of the block, there’s a side entrance on Parmenter Street that leads to the same shop. Both cases face the street beckoning to people to get a simple cup or a cone. Now there is also a location at the corner of Cross street welcoming people to the North End as well.

The gelateria is part of Frank De Pasquale’s food empire that rules the roost over here. He’s the guy that also owns Bricco, Trattoria Il Panino, Mare, Express, Umbrio, and News. Needless to say if this were anywhere but the North End,  he’d have the market completely cornered. As it is he’s doing pretty well for himself. That’s why he brought Giovanni Gigliotta to be his Maestro de Gelati and keep this area cool.

There’s an inside shop for people that want to sit down and enjoy their gelato out of the rays of the sun, but it seemed like most people were forgoing the space that used to be an Italian market to walk the streets and enjoy the sun on this peculiarly nice August day. We walked down to the Rose Kennedy Greenway and sat at the edge of the grass. It was fun to try to explain how great this spot can be to someone who hadn’t ever been here when this was just an expanse of raised concrete. Even the fountains spraying plumes of water into the air were ideal for washing the drippings off of my hands.

After a sample of some combination of flavors with an Italian name I couldn’t recall, and being told that I couldn’t get the lemon in a cone because it was a sorbet, I chose the strawberry. The gelato didn’t seem as dense as it often can often be, but it was packed nicely into the cone. The strawberry seemed to be fighting for its identity which sort of threw the balance off here. Around the pieces of fruit themselves, the consistency was icy and lumpy like a sorbet can be and then the cream took over the other spots, ultimately rendering this more like a creamsicle than anything else.

[pix pending]

Walking around the North End, things started to seem exceptionally odd. People were setting up folding chairs and even the meter maids were laughing with the people who had parked in front of the main doors to the fire station. Television trucks were set up at a few intersections and reporters were interviewing people gathered in the park around the Paul Revere statue. Since Patriot’s Day is in April, I first guessed that maybe Fox had just messed up their months that start with the letter A. The truth was that people were getting ready for the Ted Kennedy funeral motorcade. When we got in the car, the radio was full of traffic reports updating us where the cars were between Cape Cod and here. We made it out abot about the last moment we could as the cops began closing off the ends of the street.

Cone $4.95

Gigi Gelateria

272 Hanover St, Boston, MA 02113-1804

617 720-4243‎

Open year round

Daily 10a-midnight

Birthday Cones: Rota Spring Farm – Sterling MA

26 08 2009

Sometimes in the quest to find as many different variations on taste as possible, it’s easy to neglect making return visits to your favorites. As I have mentioned before, the reason I started this blog was in part to try to find something that I thought might compete with Rota Springs. Even after dropping Indian Pudding from their regular menu this year, this is my favorite place for a cone. I had a Pistachio scoop on top of a Mint Chocolate Chip, and my dad had Coconut Caramel.

Rota Spring Springs Farm Sterling Junction Mass MA Ice Cream

As you can see from the picture the new barn annex on the stand is now up in its full and painted glory. There’s a farm stand starting to take shape inside with some luscious and cheap produce. The fences around the goat herd have been moved further away from the building and there were a bunch of kids out there feeding the bottom of their cones to the animals. This is the first time that I had made it back out here since they opened for the year back in March, and seeing as today was my birthday and I had the day off, I determined that my lunch would be my favorite cone.

We had detoured through Worcester to have actual lunch with my brother, but he headed back to work rather than follow us for a cone. The best part of the diner was the linked jukeboxes. With a bunch of weird compilations and two songs for a quarter, I got Joe Tex, the Peanut Butter Conspiracy, the Pozo Seco Singers, and Lee Dorsey broadcast to all of the patrons. Even more strange was a random phone call right after from a college friend from Missouri who just got in town and is the only person I’ve ever known to actually care about the Peanut Butter Conspiracy.

My dad wove his way through all of these area back roads and came at Rota Spring from the opposite end of the road than I always do, so it was even more fun to see it appear as we hit a bend in the road. Once I looked at the menu, I knew what my dad was having since he’s a coconut fiend and that was one of the current special seasonal flavors. The other was a peach, but since I’d just had one in Duxbury, I decided to look for other options.

Ultimately, I guess I was feeling a bit green. What other impulse would make a man get two scoops with mint chocolate chip and pistachio. The pistachio came in first and with its fresh nut meats provided a strong base, while the mint and chocolate got to serve as an aperitif knocking it home and making me pine for an afternoon in the hammock. The cows weren’t out in the sun to watch as we ate, but Rota is really not lying when they claim “a herd of flavor in every scoop.” This is what makes is all worthwhile.

pistachio mint chocolate chip ice cream roat spring springs farm sterling junction mass ma

Right before I left I was chatting with a friend on line. I think were now determined to bring a posse of people out here in a van in the fall to spend some time in apple picking country. And indulge in the Indian Pudding ice cream when it is finally back on.

Original review:

Slight return:

Cone – kiddie $2.43 small $3.10 large $4.05

Sundae – 1scoop $3.81 2scoop $4.52 3scoop $5.24

Frappe $4.05 extra thick $4.52

Rota Spring Farm

117 Chace Hill Road, Sterling MA 01564


Open from March to mid-November

Open daily from 11:30a-9:30p

Farfar’s – Duxbury MA

24 08 2009

There is an autographed photo of Joe Perry on the wall above the cash register. That’s a true sign that we’re in Duxbury, though this coastal country village doesn’t really seem like the place of local rock icons. With patriotic bunting hanging from the awning, we had no idea what to expect when we turned the corner and I got a Peach cone and Sam a Grapenut one.

Farfar's Danish Ice Cream Shop duxbury mass ma

With Sam’s mom serving as our dispatcher, we’d intended to honor her efforts by stopping at her namesake ice cream place, Jan’s in Marshfield, but it’s gone. When Farfar’s appeared in front of us, I knew that we’d found a suitable replacement. This place has a storied history but I was expecting a stand rather than the colonial cape style building that housed it.

As far as that storied history goes, it’s mostly a matter of myths and legends and people remembering it from when they were kids, so it’s tough to get any accurate determination on just how old this place is. It’s so unassuming as you step up on the wooded porch, but as soon as you turn the corner and see the barriers set up to direct pedestrian traffic through, you know full well that this is an institution (plus what place could charge $8+ for a sundae if it wasn’t).

In back is a full porch with a faded wood finish and a combination of tables and benches and chairs to accommodate any group of people you may have brought along. There’s even a section of tiny plastic chairs for preschoolers imagining they are out on a bona fide ice cream date. The only flaw back here was the positioning of the water fountain. I guessed wrong and had the stream of water shoot straight at the front of my pants rather than into my mouth.

After a couple of chocolate-based cones, the appearance of peach on the seasonal special menu jumped out. The lines here also quelled our impulse for samples, but that just made it even more of a treat when I had my first bite. I’m not sure what distinguishes this as a “Danish” ice cream, but the rich and creamy texture didn’t even yield with the presence of the fruit where ice crystals are most likely to appear. It was a heavenly treat that was so dense and well packed that it may be the best looking cone that I’ve had all summer. That the flavor matched its appearance was all the better.

peach ice cream farfar's dutch duxbury mass ma

After this flurry of dairy, we both were in need of real food and some beach time, so we drove along the coast until we found a beach we could access for free ($15 parking for Duxbury Beach sounded terrible to both of us). We wound up in Brant Rock, a coastal area in Marshfield where we found a rock and roll diner called the Rock Lobster with sandwiches named for classic rock songs. Sam got the Aqualung, but I was more in the mood for fries and chose a simple cheeseburger basket instead. From here we walked to the beach and played a game of catch where we heaved the ball into the stratosphere until our efforts summoned a rainstorm. That was a good sign it was time to go home.

Cone – regular $3.25 large $4.90

Sundae – small $4.75 medium $6 large $8.10

Frappe $4.15

Farfar’s Danish Ice Cream Shop

272 Saint George St, Duxbury, MA 02332-3811

781 934-5152

Open year round

Hours ?a-?p

Farfar’s online

Dairy Twist – Pembroke MA

24 08 2009

With our intention being to make out way to the beach, Sam and I were sidetracked by a pink roadster that was emblazoned with fiery green ice cream cones. Not the sort of sight that you expect to see anywhere, but it served as an alert to the ice cream place tucked back from the road into the trees. I got a Bear Claw cone, and Sam had a Caramel Cashew Crunch.

dairy twist pembroke mass ma

Despite the vintage of the vehicle that drew our attention, the font on the sign above the ice cream stand is a better way to gauge the age of Dairy Twist. According to the old folks who were eating cones next to us, this place was opened sometime in the 1990s, and is on its second set of owners. The only other ice cream place they  claimed to ever go to was Peaceful Meadows, but even that seemed as though it was a rarity.

There were kids playing in the adjacent wooded lot, but most people were sitting in the shade that was provided by the seating area. That area only had benches and no tables, but it’s not as though anyone actually tries to balance a cone on a table so that isn’t much of a big deal either way. The only thing that people seem to complain about here is the parking, but there is a access road that runs along Rt. 53 that gives people a place to pull off along the side.

The lines here seemed to grow quickly around us, and while this is no Kimball’s in regards to the crowds, the three windows here never slowed down in the middle of the afternoon. That busyness put a damper on my sampling tendencies, so I didn’t even wind up getting a look at the ice cream pizza that Sam was trying to get me to have. The most we did was ask our scooper what exactly Muddy Sneakers was (a white chocolate with loads of stuff in it).

I had focused on my primary target and tried out the bear claw. I’m not sure why it has that name, as it has no elements of almonds or pastry as you would expect in a breakfast of the same name. What it did have was a remarkably dense and creamy chocolate ice cream loaded up with chocolate chunks, an extremely thick caramel swirl, and fresh pecans. Maybe black bear claw would have been a better name, but it really didn’t matter what they called it, it was still great. Sam was a bit disappointed with his cone as we were expecting a caramel ice cream base rather than vanilla with just a swirl (they had a Black & Tan special that did start with caramel). When he slipped and lost the bottom scoop to the gravel, it just meant it was time to move on, not complain and try to bargain for more of a cone.

bear claw ice cream dairy twist pembroke mass ma

The best story overheard here was a sighting of Aerosmith eating and taking off on motorcycles. I think every story on the South Shore involves Aerosmith. It is particularly tough to imagine most of them being able to still sit astride a hog, when these days they can’t even stay on stage at a motorcycle rally.

Cone – kiddie $2.60 small $3.35 large $3.95

Sundae – small $4.05 large $4.55

Malted Milk Shake $4.25

Dairy Twist

580 Washington St, Pembroke, MA 02359-2314

781 826-5955

Open April-Halloween

Daily noon-9p

Dairy Twist online

Peaceful Meadows – Whitman MA

24 08 2009

Last Summer, Sam and I took an ice cream tour up to Hampton Beach and found places on the way there and the way back. So far this Summer, the only trek we’d really made was down to Hyde Park, so we were way overdue when we realized we both had the day off. We set off toward the South Shore and started here with a Dutch Chocolate Almond cone for me and a Coconut Chocolate Almond for him.

peaceful meadows ice cream whitman mass ma

Sam had been to this place a long while ago and sent me a text message full of exclamation points for both the flavors and the girls working the counter. While the teenage girls don’t do the same things for me as him, I knew that his taste buds were in the right place, so this was our first target. Driving down Rt. 18 it was quite a sight when the barn’s silo rose from amidst a sea of strip malls.

Peaceful Meadows has been a farm since 1920 and opened their ice cream stand in 1962. It’s a fabulous throwback to see a farm in the middle of a modern commercial district. With an expanse of fields, roaming cows, and an adjacent dairy store that even offered egg nog in August, this really is a peaceful alternative to the hustle and bustle that surrounds it.

The ice cream is made here at the Whitman location. There are also stands in both Middleboro and Plymouth that scoop out Peaceful Meadows signature flavors. Walking behind the stand you can peek into the milking barn – though the only thing inside was a single calf – and over to the feeding area adjacent to the fields. The cows had already made their way through the hay and seemed to be mooing to get up to the barn for another milking as we worked through our cones.

A sample of the Dutch chocolate almond convinced me quickly and I went with a whole cone of that since they had no special seasonal flavors on display. The chocolate was divinely smooth and packed full with almond pieces of all sizes. The chocolate was milky and rich without leaning too dark. There’s something about seeing the cows around that increases the flavor. Maybe it’s just a contrast to the wafting manure smells that are redolent of my grandpa’s old farm, but I think there really is something special when your dairy supply is that localised.

dutch chocolate almond ice cream peaceful meadows whitman ma

At this point I was satified and almost ready to call it a day. How could other spots compete? But we’d done some advance researching and had good ideas where we ought to aim so we kept on, figuring the least we could do was head toward the ocean and dip our toes in.

Cone – small $2.75 large $4

Sundae – small $4.20 large $7.15

Frappe $3.70 x-thick $5.10

Peaceful Meadows

60 Bedford St, Whitman, MA 02382-1816

781 447-3889

Open year round

Daily 10a-10p