Sugar & Ice – Barrington NH

31 08 2011

The fun thing about being early is that you can venture out and discover other places. Having already trekked to Dover to visit Golick’s, today I drove to the next town west and found myself to a miniature toyland that also makes some fine ice cream on the premises. I checked things out while walking around with an Orange Ginger waffle cone.

Even though Sugar & Ice is set back from the road, it seems like the sort of place that is difficult to drive past without noticing. Firstly there’s a color scheme with pastel yellows and pinks that dominates the landscape, but dotting that entire terrain are wooden signs of various shapes and sizes that seem like they should be posted around town with arrows leading people here. The fact that the Mad Hatter is among the things adorning these signs is the most revealing aspect of what’s going on here. The rest of the back yard is full of those oversized playskool yard toys that seem to be some toddler’s greatest dream.

Pink picnic tables seem to mark the perimeter of the land that the ice cream joint uses here, and there’s a massive oversized umbrella that fits another seating section beneath it. Open and spacious, there are sight lines so that parents can be sitting in real seats and yet still be able to keep an eye on how their kids are adding grass stains to their pants. Located on 125 up here, you’ve really got to be heading here to find this place, but if you’ve got kids with you, it’s worth the extra miles.

They’ve got someone who works here that has great penmanship as the signs all around the windows are full of colorful slogans and menu options and tips to put up pictures of your kids on facebook to get free stuff. Walking up there’s an incredible smell as it seems like they’re making waffle cones freshly as I pulled into the lot. I look at the specials, but all that’s left is the orange ginger, which I sample and quickly commit to a whole cone, and one of those waffle ones at that.

Firstly, I realize that the waffle cones weren’t being made and stacked, they were made to order as I grab my cone and feel the warmth emanating between me and the ice cream. It makes me want to dive in for fear of the ice cream quickly melting away, but its cold enough to hold its own. The ice cream has that sweet subtle orange flavor that you’re more likely to find in an orange pineapple than a creamsicle. In fact, the pineapple is a very apt comparison as the pieces of ginger take their place to make a very elegant mix. In a place where the color schemes cream kids, a flavor like this shows that they know well how to keep all of their audience interested.

This side trip was only really an extra ten minutes drive, and with the time to kill, the only thing I would likely have done instead is spend money that’s been burning a hole in my pocket at a music shop or on something even more dumb. I got back to the Barley Pub to find Tim & Djim waiting around so we head out for dinner and then came back to rock things out.

Cone – small $3.50 medium $3.95 large $4.95

Sundae – small $4.95 medium $5.50 large $5.95

Frappe $4.95 extra-thick $5.50

Sugar & Ice Creamery

555 Route 125, Barrington, NH

603 335-1140

Open seasonally (April-October?)

Monday-Thursday noon-9p, Friday & Saturday noon-10p


Angora Ice – Chestnut Hill MA

25 08 2011

I keep returning to places that I’ve already written up so this morning I set out with the intention of finding someplace new. Somehow the spot that I found has roots in the area reaching back twenty-five years, so I settled in with a Burnt Sugar cone.

pic – storefront

Angora Ice is a recent offshoot of the Angora Cafe. I guess if I had done some advance research I’d’ve know this, but the case is that I only made the connection afterwards. However, it does nicely explain why it is that a place that opened last August can proclaim that they’ve been “serving the best frozen yogurt for over 20 years.”

This shop is located right next to the entrance to the Star Market here on Boylston Street, so it’s an easy enough place to get to with tons of parking. The shop itself is pretty tiny and the menu boards are on those oddly-too-bright screens like you expect to see nowhere but McDonalds. Outside there is seating at a few tables, and they’ve got a big ice cream cone sitting on the sidewalk to attract attention the fact that this is not part of the grocery store, but its own shop.

Inside things make sense. The yogurt is soft and comes from a machine and the ice cream selection is limited to a small set of base selections with an array of mix-ins. I look to the special flavors first and am intrigued by the carrot cake. It’s rich and full and with carroty sweet goodness, however, in the last week of August, it’s just too much of a fall flavor to surrender to, so instead I take a cone of the burnt sugar.

Sometimes burnt sugar is a flavor that doesn’t differ too much from a heavy caramel. It’s the degree of burning that makes the difference, but much like when toasting a marshmallow over a campfire, if you go too far it just seems like a mess of coal. Here at Angora, they do leave the sugar over the fire longer than most, but that works well to their advantage as this ice cream has got me craving graham crackers and pieces of a Hershey bar. This is potent burnt sugar that hits that delicate balance like right before the marshmallows set themselves ablaze.

pic – cone

You may notice the lack of pictures in this entry. There’s a reason for that, and it’s no good. With a bag of groceries, a cone, and my camera in had as I got back to my car, it seems I put that camera on the top of my car as I loaded the rest of the stuff inside. Seems as though I may have left it there as I drove off. I put calls in to Angora, Star Market, the Chestnut Hill Shopping Center, and even posted in Craigslist’s Lost & Found. Hopefully, I’ll have reason to change this text in the coming days

Cone – small $3.70 large $4.99 pint $6.71

Sundae – small $5.25 large $5.75

Angora Ice

3A Boylston St, Chestnut Hill MA 02467

617 730 8900

Open year round

Hours #a-#p

Nudo – Nonantum MA

18 08 2011

Recently, I went to have lunch with my brother, and shortly after setting out I slowed to a crawl as I noticed the open flags swinging and the new signage for this gelateria in Nonantum. It’s Newton’s first neighborhood as you cross the line from Watertown, and today I finally made it my destination and had a cup of Nudo.

In Italian, Nudo means nude, but that is in reference to the basic natural ingredients that Andrew Tedeschi brings to the gelatos that he makes here. There aren’t pin-ups littering the walls, just a few tables, with a case for baked goods and another for gelato backed up to each wall. This place can fill up quickly if there’s a group of people here, but there’s a couple tables on the sidewalk as well.

With Nudo, Tedeschi is displaying his Italian pride for this neighborhood by bringing first class gelato to the suburbs. The thought is that he’s bringing a taste of the North End to Nonatum, but in truth what they’re making here is better than the gelato you can get there already. The green, white, and red Open flags are a nice touch without being too overt.

The case is intimidating with twenty-odd flavors waiting to be picked, and names often in Italian that take some translation to figure out. There are some fruit sorbet options as well, and I get a taste of the blood orange raspberry. It’s pretty fantastic, but for a whole cup (yes, again no cones for gelato) I think I’m in the mood for something creamy. When I realize that this shop has its own signature flavor, well, do take a taste first, but my cup gets filled with nudo.

The taste is sort of a white Russian, but far more complex. There’s some chocolate and some marzipan and some coffee, or coffee liqueur. And then there are thin small flakes of chocolate dispersed throughout. It’s so smooth and creamy it feels as though it’s sledding down your throat. If you’re gonna give a flavor the same name as your store you need to make it great, and Nudo is.

There’s a lot of coffee in here as well, and they’ve even got a panini menu. I can’t believe that I’d missed this place driving along 16, but when I find out that their opening day was only June 4, I don’t feel quite so bad. I’ll be back to make up for lost time.

closing paragraph/bonus material

Cone – piccolo $3.50 medio $4 grande $4.75

Sundae $6.50

Affogato $4.50

Nudo’s Gelateria

308 Watertown St, Newton, MA 02458

617 795 0213

Open year round

Monday-Saturday 11a-11p, Sunday noon-11p

Gibby’s – Worcester MA

15 08 2011

Taking a day off on Sunday to check out the Bolton Fair left me out in Bolton on Monday morning with nothing to do until the middle of the afternoon. As a result I radically reworked my path back east with a route that started by heading west to Worcester toward Gibson Brothers Dairy where I devoured a Heavenly Hash cone.

Gibby’s has been a regular fixture in Worcester for over 75 years. Friends who grew up in the area remember the milk trucks making deliveries with a full gamut of dairy products. Nowadays those deliveries still take place, and there is a dairy store right next to the ice cream barn, though as luck would have it, it is regularly closed on Mondays.

Tucked away atop Grafton Hill, this ice cream stand would seem wholly in the middle of nowhere and not New England’s third biggest city if it weren’t for the shadow of the Price Chopper that looms across the street. The rain here certainly puts a damper on things, but there are picnic benches all around the parking lot – a lot that is defined by metal poles painted with cow’s spots which seem to limit the chances for drivers to accidently hit anything else.

Needless to say things were quiet when I arrived between the rain and the fact the store wasn’t open. It gave me a chance to try a few samples of their ice creams. I started with the blueberry honey graham, it was a good flavor, but as the girl at the counter said, “it tastes like a NutraGrain bar,” and it was texturally that way as well… chewy and grainy in a way that you don’t expect from ice cream. The key lime pie had a potent lime flavor and bits of crust, but wasn’t what I was after on this day. For some reason, I even went for a taste of bubble gum, but all that did was remind me why I never go for that as a flavor. After such experimentation, heavenly hash seemed like a perfect default.

Even in this relatively temperate day, the ice cream had a mind of its own, and led by the marshmallow swirls it was melting as soon as I had it in my hand. It took some serious work to try and get this cone under any control as it melted away on me (thankfully any drops that made it to the ground were quickly washed away by the rains). The flavors were great with a sweet creamy milk chocolate that was buoyed by that swirl, and the chips were large rectangular pieces liberally distributed through the whole thing. It’s a great ice cream from a specific place, and the only spot in Worcester that makes their own ice cream.

Getting here from 290 was actually pretty eye-opening. Instead of driving all the way through the city and then coming back east, I skirted the eastern edge of the city, driving south the whole way down Lake Street until I got to Sunderland Rd. The cottages along Lake Quinsigamond did a great job of getting me in the mood for ice cream and showed me a part of Worcester that was wholly unfamiliar.

Cone – kids $3 regular $3.65 large $4.25 extra large $4.95

Sundae – kids $3.95 regular $5.65 super size $6.45 specialty $6.75

Frappe $4.95

Gibson Brothers Dairy

50 Sunderland Road, Worcester, MA

508 753-1095

Open April-October

Daily noon-9p

Gibby’s online

Puleo’s Dairy – Salem MA

10 08 2011

Give me a few hours to kill, and internet access and I’m bound to hop in the car and find the nearest unknown ice cream. After a morning DJing session at WMBR, I had nothing to do until late afternoon so all of the sudden I was pointed north toward a cone. After sitting in for a great sandwich, I finished with a Mocha Chip cone.

After working for a co-op in the early 1920s, Charlie Puleo got himself a Model T and opened his dairy business in 1928, delivering milk, butter, and ice cream to the denizens of the Salem area. In the ’40s, this roadside ice cream stand began, and a renovation in 1989 made it a year-round stop. Even more recently they’ve opened a parlor downtown just around the corner form the Peabody Essex Museum.

At night, this place must be easy to find as the large neon sign sits out by the street directing people to turn in… or if you’re driving north up 107 like I was, to look for a place to turn around so you can get here since the road is divided at this point. In reality this is no mere ice cream stand; it’s more like a Brigham’s or Friendly’s with an outdoor window for the evenings when the conjoined restaurant (Brother George’s) is closed. There are a pair of tables with umbrellas in front of the window, and then back behind the store is an area with wood painted to look like cows and a swing set for kids.

Sitting inside at the bar was a good place for a cone, since even away from the elements it started dripping on my fingers. I first started with a taste of the honey grapenut, but the honey didn’t seem pronounced and as is the case with most all grapenuts in ice cream, they don’t sell very quickly so the crunch turns into this oddly semi-solid barley mush. With no seasonal flavors to choose from, I decided upon the mocha chip.

All of the recipes used are from Charlie Puleo’s original recipes, so new fangled concepts are nowhere to be found here, with cookie dough being the most modern nod. While there aren’t a lot of things thrown into the ice cream, the focus is instead on flavor and this may be the boldest mocha I’ve ever had. Usually folks make mocha as a coffee ice cream with the slightest hint of chocolate in it, but this was a battle for taste from the first bite. A strong chocolate didn’t want to cede any territory, but coffee flavors still find a may to muscle in – thankfully there were nice chips in this mix to provide a great balance.

Lately I’ve been eating ice cream before food far too much. Maybe I’m thinking I can get by with ice cream as my entire meal, but after missing dinner and then breakfast, I realized a sandwich might be imperative before a cone. A great roast beef club sandwich was just what my body needed. Oh, and if you’re eating here, pass on the soda and get yourself a fresh chocolate milk. It’s at least as good as the ice cream.

Cone – child $2.75 small $3.40 large $4.25

Sundae – small $4.95 large $5.95

Frappe $5.25

Puleo’s Dairy

376 Highland Avenue, Salem, MA 01970-1744

978 744-6455

Open year round

Monday-Thursday & Saturday 7a-7p, Friday 7a-8p, Sunday 7a-3p, ice cream window open til 9p during Summer

Liberty’s – Natick MA

4 08 2011

With vacation time spent, it seems everyone is falling back into regular schedules already. While it may bring some ennui to most days, it also means that I can scoot out and have lunch with my brother near his work. Last time we did it, we found this place after we’d already had cones. This time it was a target and Tim got a black raspberry cone and I had Butter Crunch.

There’s no countertop to hop up next to a barstool and call out to a jerk to pull you a vanilla coke, but stepping inside the front door of Liberty’s, you can tell for sure that you are in a parlor. With more than thirty-five years in business, everything here is homemade, and the people working today look as though they may have been pulling scoops since day one.

There’s a smattering of tables and chairs in the front part of this shop, and it’s easy to imagine that these tables are cluttered with locals that come here every morning for breakfast. They’ve got a menu full of egg sandwiches and other morning treats, and they seem to keep a grill for lunch stuff, but at this time of day, no one seems to here for any reason other than ice cream.

Throwing the couple sherbets and the four frozen yogurt options into the mix, there are thirty options here, but nothing too wild and crazy. Most of the options are more about the flavor rather than what is held in suspension, and the experience in working here comes through in the strong taste. Tim’s black raspberry is smooth and sweet with no trace of seeds at all, I have a taste of the butter crunch and opt not to get another taste of anything different and just go for a cone (though this was partly because I couldn’t tell if the old guy scooping for me was being ornery or just joking with me).

In the midst of a strip mall, there’s no place to wander outside so we sit down at a table and take it all in. This may be the butteriest butter crunch that I’ve encountered in ages. The crunch seems like crystallized nuggets of sugar… not toffee, but something equally powerful… and they are mixed throughout the ice cream in various-sized pieces. Together, this ice cream is a rich and thick mix that stands very strong on the legs of flavors and textures and just doing things right.

My brother recommended going to Five Guys for lunch while we were out, so I was stunned to find that a vegetarian was taking me to a burger joint. Apparently it’s been around for twenty-five years in the DC area; Tim said it’s where Obama gets his burger fix. Not expecting that the basic is a double burger, I thought it was pretty darn good, but my bun was too thin and had trouble keeping the contents contained.

Cone – small $2.50 medium $3 large $3.50

Sundae – small $3.50 medium $4 large $4.50

Frappe $3.90

Liberty’s Ice Cream Parlor

2 Mill St # 3, Natick, MA 01760-4124

508 655-0225

Open year round

Daily 8a-7p (summers until 10p); closed Sundays

Macaron Sweeterie – Lexington MA

3 08 2011

It’s amazing how cluttered the map inside 128 is when I look at ice cream places that we’ve visited for this blog. Most of the places that I haven’t been to are alternate locations for places that we have been. Googling “ice cream near watertown,” it took until page 5 of entries that I spied this sweets shop in Lexington where I found a White Chocolate With Peanut Butter gelato.

These storefronts are the height of unassuming, in the midst of very residential Lexington, with a cleaning business on one side and a realty agency with no one working on a Wednesday afternoon on the other. With ornate yet simple patterns and a remarkable air of cleanliness, it’s easy to tell that this is a new shop to the area. The sort of place that’s seemingly meant to be in a place like Lexington or else in the middle of a city center hell bent on gentrification.

Inside the shop is small, with a short, japanese-style bench in the front window, and a counter spanning the width of the room. Outside there are a few benches arrayed to imply a space for gathering, though if someone you don’t know is already sitting down there, it seems a bit as though you’re invading their space by sitting at all. The sidewalk is wide, but there’s nowhere to walk with houses close by on either side, and sitting really is ideal when a gelato shop doesn’t offer cones.

The food options here are oddly limited, but what there is all seems pretty astounding. The fact I don’t drink coffee allows me to skip over half of the menu, but everything under the glass case seems far too appetizing. While there are twenty or so options for fresh gelato, the other half of the case is devoted to traditional macaron (not macaroon) cookies in a wild assortment of colors and flavors. I give a taste to the caramel brownie and the chocolate gelato, but it is the white chocolate with peanut butter that is by far the most compelling.

White chocolate is always tough to master, but here they have it right with the white chocolate being the flavor of the ice cream. The sweet and the cocoa butter dominate the taste so you can tell this is no knock off that you might find molded into the shape of a bunny on a convenience store shelf the three weeks on either side of Easter. The strong white chocolate flavor is fantastically balanced by small clusters of peanut butter that bleed into the surrounding flavor. I may always complain about not getting a cone when I head to gelaterias, but there’s really no reason here as this is far better than most of what can be found in the North End.

My biggest error was in not buying some of the macarons while I was in here as well, but I was hampered first in that they were having problems with their credit card machine so I just opted for using the cash in my front pocket. Secondly, since I was heading to hang out with a diabetic, the idea of bringing these delectable cookies seemed, well, not very thoughtful either…

Dish – bambino $2.75 picolo $3.50 medio $4.25

Affogoato $3.75

Macaron Sweeterie

848 Mass. Ave, Lexington, MA 02420

781 863 0848

Open year round

Tuesday-Friday noon-8p, Saturday-Sunday noon-5p, closed Mondays