Cows and Cones – Ledyard CT

20 07 2011

Heading to a family vacation on Long Island, I’m not really in any rush to get there at any specific time. All that’s ahead is time on the beach , so it seems silly to get worried and rush to go relax. So instead of crossing the Thames and getting to the ferry as quick as I could I turned North and found a fantastic Lemon Pie cone.

Cows and Cones takes up the space of one building in the midst of Alice Acres Farm in Gales Ferry. This spot is easy to find as it’s on the Military Highway that leads to the north entrance to the submarine base. Any military thoughts stop at the address, as when you tun off the road you’re in a perfectly rural setting  with a chicken coop, and cows hiding from the sun in the intense heat.

The farm market and greenhouse provide a fantastic setting, but the building itself is made for ice cream. There’s a significant overhang on all sides of the building that keeps out the rain and provides shade, and enough room for a batch of tables behind the building. There’s a pavilion just a few more steps up the hill and it has another ten picnic tables beneath it. Heck, even the overflowing flower beds that you have to walk through to approach the window are just the cherry on top.

Alice Acres opened back in 1995 , but Cows and Cones didn’t open until the summer of 2007;  it seems like they took that time to refine their recipes before opening. The tastes that I had were all a treat but the actual prospect of pieces of pie in the Lemon Pie ice cream was was far too alluring when the lemon flavor was as bold as it was. I went with a sugar cone.

There wasn’t any meringue in this, but to be honest, I kept imagining it with each bite that I took. The pie crust was buttery and sweet, so much so that I kept expecting to find out that the crust had chips of meringue embedded with it. The lemon was tart and sweet with the tart driving the taste toward key lime while remaining very much lemon. This was worth however long a side trek it took, the sort of ice cream place that you are more than willing to drive to as a destination in itself.

A quick jog back south puts me on 95 and over the bridge into New London, and just as quick to the ferry across the sound. The only issues on this trip are that I’ve found all of the ice cream on the North Fork. Or maybe there’s something to find…

Cone -li’l $2.50 1 scoop $3.50 2 scoops $4.99 3 scoops $5.99

Sundae soft $5.50 hard $6.50

Shake regular $4.50 large $4.99 malted +$.50

Cows and Cones

39 Military Highway, Ledyard, CT 06335

860 464-2663 ‎

Open April-October

Hours noon-9p


Mystic Drawbridge – Mystic CT

26 08 2008

I really hadn’t intended for my first two Connecticut stops to be in Mystic. The place I really want to venture to is the UConn Dairy Bar in Storrs, but that destination is out of the way enough that it needs to be a target. I saw this place as I was heading to New London, and one of our readers commented that it was her favorite place, so I went and tried a Sticky Fractured Finger cone.

When it comes to Connecticut’s South Coast, I’m far more well versed in the culture of New London. I’ve got a few friends that live down there and am willing to make the two hour drive from Boston to see concerts in some odd venues. Plus it’s where the Cross Sound Ferry docks. That town and it’s sister Groton are based around a shipping economy, and more significantly submarine building, so they are very blue collar. It’s easy to forget how posh a nearby place like Mystic actually is.

My knowledge of Mystic really doesn’t get much further past Mystic Pizza, and I hadn’t seen that film since I was in high school (plus I figured that Annabeth Gish was going to be the breakout star from that film, not Julia Roberts). So when the traffic got heavy, I assumed the bridge was up and parked a few blocks away figuring it would be an easier walk. I wandered down Main Street and looked at the boutiques and curios that filled the windows. Also as forewarned on this last week of the summer, there were a lot of New York licence plates around.

Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream is located right at the drawbridge in the center of town and there is a sign that can be seen from the water side that says, “We Make The Best.” In the front windows, the signs instead say, “We Make Old Fashion.” With a section of the menu devoted to Drawbridge Originals (including the new addition Bird Chip – vanilla with trail mix and chocolate chips) their classic techniques for making ice cream one batch at a time are combined with a very modern approach to flavors. I selected from the originals menu with the sticky fractured finger.

It’s a caramel ice cream with broken butterfingers and a caramel swirl, that comes together in odd proportions. The ice cream is actually pretty light on the caramel, with the swirl inside being the part that tries to bring it to the consistency of a butterscotch pudding. The Butterfinger pieces are microscopic – this is truly fractured to the point that the candy never gets a chance to have any of the real bite that a bar might. After getting good advance notice, I do have a tendency to idealize what I think such a flavor could be, and while this didn’t meet my dreams, it was a pretty fantastic cone.

My only real gripe with this place was the service. I got stuck behind two families, and then another was behind me trying to make their way through close quarters with an unwieldy stroller. Watching a family pick out cones is actually kind of fun, but watching one girl be left to wait on all of us was disappointing, more so because one kid was on his break and out of the store, and another girl sat behind the counter idly playing with her cone and making no motions to help even as the shoppe filled up. If you work drawing scoops, don’t sit behind the counter unless you are working as everyone inside seemed on the verge of yelling and it actually changes the way that the ice cream tastes when the workers put a bad taste in your mouth from the outset.

Cone – single $3.50 double $4.50 triple $5.50 the sampler $7.85

Sundae – classic $5.65 specialty $6.60

Milkshake $5.65 malted +$.89

Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream

2 W Main St, Mystic, CT 06355

860 572-7978

Open year round

Daily 11a-11p

Mystic Drawbridge online

Sea Swirl – Mystic CT

21 08 2008

Sometimes the best laid plans are attached to ancient maps that send you on wild goose chases through ghost towns. That’s what it seemed when I pulled off 95 in Exeter, Rhode Island figuring that one of two locations on the same road would be viable. Neither was, and forty five minutes later I found a Chocolate Peanut Butter cone on Connecticut’s South coast.

I pulled off in Mystic knowing that it was my only chance at finding an unfamiliar cone, because I had a destination in mind if I made it all the way to New London. I followed signs for some sort of tourist bureau and found a darkened building with ads for all the neighboring hotels. I did pick up a visitors guide and made it to the only food entry that mentioned ice cream.

Conveniently located at the intersection of the two numbered roads in Mystic (1 & 27), Sea Swirl was easy to find. As ice cream goes, this place has been serving it for over 50 years with the first half of its existence as a Carvel and the past 23 operated by the Blaney family. The place has the look of a classic roadside scoop shop, and I half expect to be buzzed by a waitress on rollerskates.

Instead I nearly have to flag someone down inside to come take my order. They have both soft serve and hard pack ice cream and the two each have their own pricing scales. I was looking for something interesting and different to order. Both the banana chocolate chip and the cotton candy seemed like potentially terrible ideas so I found solace in chocolate peanut butter.

My waitress disappeared into the back of the shop as though ice cream really wasn’t that significant an offering here. What emerged is the tiniest cone that I have yet encountered, with the small checking in even smaller than some kiddie cones that I have sampled. There were two tiny scoops placed precariously atop the cone, with serious effort seeming to have been made to prevent any ice cream from going inside. The chocolate ice cream is simple and the peanut butter ice cream takes up a third of the mass of the cone. It’s a nice cone to eat while seaside, but next time I’m in Mystic, I’m going to try the place right at the drawbridge.

This place is reknowned for their fried clams, but I’ve got a bagel with lox in the car and opt out of the food. It’s surprising for a place like this that there really aren’t people here that are just eating ice cream. Between 6 and 7 pm, I’m sure they do brisk dinner business, but I expected to see more cones, not just families gorging themselves on fried fare.

Cone – small $3.25 large $4.29

Sundae – small $3.99 large $4.76

Shakes $5.88

Sea Swirl Seafood Restaurant and Ice Cream

30 Williams Ave, Stonington, CT 06378

860 536-3452

Open seasonally

Daily 11a-9p

Connecticut Ice Cream

12 08 2008

So despite driving through the state of Connecticut twice in the past few days, the hours were before and after all of the ice cream shops in the whole state opened or closed. The website has given us a primer on the Eastern half of the state however, so those of you looking for something to sate your appetite can download THIS TWO PAGE PDF and have an easy guide to what is available.