Reasons To Be Cheerful – West Concord MA

30 06 2011

So maybe the name of this brand new ice cream joint might make you think it’s a greeting card store, at least they didn’t decide to call it Hit Me With My Rhythm Stick instead*. I’d been following the blog which tracked the evolution of this from an idea up to its grand opening on Tuesday. I went with my dad who had the raspberry chip, while I went for Mocha Chip.

In this space that used to house the Gatehouse, Wade Rubinstein has created what he terms a dessert cafe, and opened his doors as soon as all the red tape was cleared and there was enough ice cream to stock one of the freezers. The ice cream is made here on the premises and they built a walk in freezer into the basement to eventually hold their stock to keep the entire region properly coned.

The building is an old house that has been specially built in to this location with a huge brand new counter, sparkling paint job with bold blues and oranges, and resurrected wood floors. There’s seating on the front porch. There are a few seats in the front of the store. In the back there are tables and chairs and a huge chalkboard for kids to draw on. Outside there is a private alleyway that’s got benches along it. If you don’t want to wander around West Concord with your cone, there are plenty of seating options.

With only one of the cases full of ice cream, the menu was focused more on the basic flavors rather than any radical experimentation so far. A taste of the maple walnut had large crunchy nuts and tasted like you were kissing a sugar maple tree in spring. The key lime was tart and sweet with pieces of what seemed like graham cracker crust embedded. The raspberry chip showed remnants of fresh fruit and had sharp dark chocolate pieces. Despite those tastes, I opted for the mocha chip

Sometimes a mocha ice cream can be as thick as a stout, but this instead was almost as light as a coolatta and twice as refreshing. The coffee flavor was fresh, but not robust and overpowering, and the chips were fresh and crisp providing a great balance to the lightness of the ice cream since you had to think to stop and chew them. If these are just the first batches of ice cream offerings, then there really are reasons to be cheerful as long as you stop in while passing through West Concord (or take the train, the stop is less than a block away).

* “Reasons To Be Cheerful, Part 3” was the follow-up single to Ian Dury and the Blockheads’ #1 hit, “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick.” The song peaked at #3 on the UK singles chart in 1979, but as we all see now, was the inspiration that helped bring this ice cream shop to fruition.

Cone – kiddie $2.85 small $3.75 medium $4.45 large $5.25

Sundae – small $4.50 medium $5.25 large $6

Frappe $4.95 extra thick $5.55

Reasons To Be Cheerful

110 Commonwealth Avenue, West Concord, MA, 01742


Open year round

Daily 11a-9p

Sunshine Farm – Sherborn MA

16 06 2011

Working second shift makes most of my ice cream adventures solo ones. If I’m going before work, everyone else is already at theirs, and by the time I’m done most folks are already in bed. Today, I drove out to pick my brother up for lunch from his work and found this farm not too far away where I went for a Black Raspberry cone.

Sunshine Farm has been around since 1937 and has passed through generations of the Geoghegan family. As a fruit and vegetable stand, it has been producing its own crops for just as long with something always in season on this hundred acre farm. My twinge of sadness came when I realized that the strawberries that I could go pick were not the same crop that was in the ice cream.

On a rainy day, there’s enough of an overhang to cover some benches and still make your cone eating experience a good one. On a good day, there’s a range of picnic tables all waiting to be used by families out to indulge themselves in a nice treat. And while this place seems like it might be in the middle of nowhere, in truth it’s in the corner of Sherborn that’s remarkably close to both the Natick and Framingham town lines.

Looking down the list of ice cream options offered here, it was easy to figure out that their ice cream supply comes from Bliss Dairy. Bliss seems to have a lock on many of the farms and orchards that give people an extra reason to head out during the summer heat. I wasn’t sure what to try, but figuring I was on a farm, something fruity seemed right, so I tasted the Orange Pineapple, but the ice crystals in it made me remember that it is an ice cream I’ve determined only to consume when I fresh ocean air fills my nostrils. Instead, I fell back on black raspberry as my easy go to cone.

While my cone did seem like a bit of a dwarf, it was just the right taste for this lunch, with a strong raspberry flavor – even if the seeds and texture of the fruit had been filtered out somewhere in the process of making this. It made for a nice cone, if not a destination that you need to add to your queue of ice cream places to visit. If you live within a couple of towns, this is worth checking out, but odds are good if you have to drive too far, there’s likely someone closer that can bring Bliss to your taste buds.

A real farm stand attached offered up some of the best looking strawberries I’ve seen all season, with robust reds bursting with even more taste than the color would have you imagine. After having been limited in my fruit consumption by bad weather when I was on Long Island during what should have been the peak of their season, the quart of berries I walked away with here was the real treat of the day.

Cone – kiddie $2.95 one scoop $3.50 regular $4.50 large $4.95

Sundae – regular $5.50 large $6.50

Frappe $5.25

Sunshine Farm Market & Ice Cream

41 Kendall Ave.  Sherborn, MA

508 655 5022

Open May-October

Daily noon-6p, until 9p from Memorial Day-Labor Day

Cicada Scoops?

7 06 2011

While I’m in the middle of doing my radio show tonight, a few people start asking me about cicadas. It seems that Sparky’s Homemade Ice Cream in Columbia, Missouri got into trouble for making an ice cream with cicadas. I was in Columbia thirteen years ago when these insects last emerged from their burrows, but I was fascinated by the odd intervals and dissonances of sound as you moved through trees full of them. I never thought about eating them.

They’ve actually long been a delicacy, dating back to ancient Greek, Chinese, Congolese, and Latin American cultures. For this ice cream, they took the wings off the cicadas and then boiled the bugs and covered them in brown sugar and chocolate and added that mixture to a base ice cream of brown sugar and butter. In the story on Ozarks First, an employee remarks that if you didn’t know it was a bug you’d just assume the crunch was a nut. I’m sure there’s more protein in a cicada than a macadamia.

I called a friend who still lives in Columbia to get the real details. Apparently word got around last Wednesday night that this venture was underway, and when Sparky’s opened for business there was a line waiting to get a taste. Enough of a line that they were empty before the first hour was through. Such success meant they’d of course make another batch, but that success also meant a news story in the town with more aspiring journalists than any other. Such publicity drew the attention of the Board of Health. They prevented any more of this cicada ice cream from being made or sold.

News stories mention that there must be some specific rules for how cicada ought to be prepared, but nothing in Missouri seems to set out any regulations about cicadas. The rumor is that they claimed that in order to serve insects, you must raise them. I’m not sure who can invest in holding the space for the thirteen year lifecycle of the cicada for a few batches of ice cream. It seems like Sparky’s is hedging their bets that some sort of agreement will be worked out as the sign on the door tells customers to be on the lookout for the next batch. In 2024.

Scooper Bowl Hits Boston This Week

6 06 2011

This time the three days in June starts on Tuesday the 7th when City Hall Plaza becomes an ice cream free-for-all. OK, so it’s not free. It does cost a little bit to get inside the gates and then see how many samples of ice cream you can devour before you pop. And all of the proceeds benefit the Jimmy Fund.

This year we’ve got advance notice about what is going to be here. Check it out:


  • Lucky Mint
  • Firehouse #31
  • S’More the Merrier
  • Oreo®Gold Rush

Ben & Jerry’s®

  • Late Night Snack
  • Americone Dream
  • Milk and Cookies
  • Bonnaroo BuzzTM

Ciao Bella Gelato®

  • Chocolate S’mores
  • Mango Sorbet
  • Wild Blueberry Sorbet
  • Key Lime Graham Gelato


  • The Original Rocky Road
  • Cookies and Cream
  • Orange Sherbert
  • Espresso Chip


  • Hunka Chunka
  • Vienna Mocha
  • Mocha Chocolate Chip
  • Rocky Road

HP Hood/Brigham’s®

  • Hood BoSox Brownie
  • Hood Frozen Tangy Yogurt Rasberry Vanilla
  • Brigham’s Oreo
  • Brigham’s Mocha Chip

SoCo Creamery

  • Dirty Chocolate
  • Vanilla
  • Espresso Cookie
  • Berkshire Berry
  • Mexicali Chocolate
$8 for adults (age 10 and up), $4 for kids (age 3-9) and free for kids under three. Text SCOOP to 22122 to receive $1 off admission price. Noon-8p.

Dairy Dome – Stoneham MA

1 06 2011

Usually on the first Wednesday of each month, I’ve been DJing a fill-in slot for Late Risers’ Club on WMBR. I can get loud for a couple hours and it’s nice not to be limited to local fare as Pipeline! always is. The only problem is finding a way to kill three hours before work after getting up in the morning. Today that issue was solved by driving up 28 and finding a Red Raspberry Sno-Cap cone.

Simply enough, there’s not really any way to miss this building. It’s one of the few ice cream places in the state that’s in the registry of historical buildings. Not that it’s been an ice cream place for its entire life: what is now the Dairy Dome began its life as one of the first gas stations in the country very early in the 20th century.

Since 1980, Dairy Dome has been housed beneath the yellow dome that marks your real arrival in Stoneham. An array of patio furniture is clustered around the outside of the building, and inside there’s just as much room to sit when the elements are more severe. The ice cream business here has become just part of the whole, with a full deli and catering options taking over much of the interior space, and that patio becoming a Christmas Tree lot in December.

For some reason, the name of this place had me wary that the only options were going to be general soft-serve flavored by shots. While those options are available (generally for about 50 cents less), the real ice cream is made here on the premises. I was bummed to find their black raspberry fudge whited-out by masking tape, but the samples I tried of other flavors all impressed, and one of the 3 flavors of the month truly struck my fancy – the red raspberry sno-cap.

The girl at the counter professed it was her favorite, despite the fact that the white dots on the chocolate sno-caps had all seemingly been absorbed into the ice cream. A first bite registered this as a top tier raspberry flavor with real fruit apparent throughout and the sno-caps were a great twist on the typical chips that get mixed in here. With a bit more heft and flavor, this is the sort of treat that I’m only bummed that I hadn’t found long ago.

Somehow the rest of my spare time eroded quickly thanks to an overlong stop at Ocean State Job Lot. It’s amazing that a quest for cheap planters somehow turned into me filling a cart with all sorts of assorted oddities from bags of potting soil to notebooks to honey roasted chipotle peanuts. I just need to remember that it’s now too warm to buy chocolate and leave it in the car and expect it to retain form.

Cone – kiddie $3 regular $4 large $5

Sundae – regular $5.50 large $6

Frappe $5.50

Dairy Dome

474 Main Street, Stoneham, MA

781 438-9425

Open year round?

Hours 10a-9p?