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.
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.
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
Open March 1-Thanksgiving