Saturday, August 28th, 2010

Bellvale Farms Creamery

Bellvale Farms Creamery

Bellvale Farms Creamery

I first tried Bellvale Farms Creamery last summer while hiking along the Appalachian Trail with some friends on a hot summer day. After bushwhacking our way up the sometimes-steep slope for a couple of hours, approaching the charming little building was like finding an oasis in the desert. A huge bucket of icy water would have tasted good at that point, but a cold, sweet ice cream cone along with impressive views of the valley wasn’t too shabby.

Since I’m not sure if my impression of the ice cream was mostly determined by exhaustion and dehydration, I decided I needed to go back and try it again, this time without the workout.

Flavor Menu

Flavor Menu

The menu list is large but not unmanageable. I was informed by another customer that the list of special flavors on the right side of the menu sign is extended throughout the summer, depending on ingredient availability. Too bad – I was looking forward to Blueberries & Creme, listed in the online menu, and I had read good things about the Apple Pie flavor as well. Still, there was no shortage of choices!

Black Dirt Blast - chocolate coffee ice cream with fudge & toffee pieces

Black Dirt Blast - chocolate coffee ice cream with fudge & toffee pieces

I was able to sample several flavors over the course of two visits, but most were unexceptional. For ice cream made with high quality ingredients coming from an award-winning local dairy, I was expecting an equally high quality of flavors in the actual ice cream base, but generally they fell flat and relied too heavily on added ingredients to provide the punch. I know this opinion may cause some rage amongst fans, considering that Bellvale currently has a 5-star rating on Yelp, but I honestly thought that without a bite of cookie dough or graham crackers, many of the flavors were just bland. There were a few shining stars, though, which is why I gave this place an overall rating of 3 cones.

Monday, August 16th, 2010

The Chocolate Room

This cozy little cafe in Park Slope, Brooklyn, is most famous for its decadent triple layer chocolate cake, but during my most recent visit, I was on a mission to try one of its ice cream sandwiches, hailed by Serious Eats as one of NYC’s top 10 ice cream sandwiches in an article written back in 2008.

The Chocolate Room Sign

The Chocolate Room Sign

My plan was nearly derailed by the complimentary mini scoop of Valrhona chocolate sorbet, placed before us soon after we were seated. Not only did I devour my own little scoop within seconds, but my friend, seeing how much I was in love with this sorbet, kindly let me devour his scoop as well. If I had not been so determined to try an ice cream sandwich, I most definitely would have ordered a full scoop of this rich, smooth, deeply bitter chocolate treat. I am a self-proclaimed dark chocolate lover, so this was absolutely heavenly.

Valrhona Chocolate Sorbet

Valrhona Chocolate Sorbet

I stayed the course and ordered the banana rum ice cream sandwich layered between two milk chocolate peanut butter cookies. I wasn’t sure if the ice cream sandwiches were still being offered because they were not listed on the menu, but I asked the server and she said they did have them, for $4 each. So, if you don’t see them on the menu, don’t panic, just ask!

Banana Rum Ice Cream Sandwich with Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Banana Rum Ice Cream Sandwich with Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Thursday, August 12th, 2010

Big Gay Ice Cream Truck

Yesterday I planned to try a gelato popsicle from Popbar in Greenwich Village, but I was seriously craving a Salty Pimp from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. What to do? Well, do what any normal person would do. Get both.

Was it worth it?

Heck yeah. Because otherwise I would have missed out on THIS.

A Salty Pimp from Doug Quint with a Side Order of Middle Finger

A Salty Pimp from Doug Quint with a Side Order of Middle Finger

Now you’re probably wondering how this photo came about.

Here’s how it went down:

My friend (excited to be recognized as a frequent customer by Doug Quint, owner of the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck) and I walk up to the window and I say (to Doug): We’ll get two Salty Pimps.

Doug (solemnly shakes head from side to side, as though he just ran out of the Salty Pimp)

Us (with crestfallen faces): Whaaaat?

Doug (cracks a smile, indicating he is messing with us, and turns around to start making the Pimps)

Me (with sigh of relief): I’ve been craving it for days!

Friend (looks at the menu again, turns to me): Hmm, or should I try the Monday Sundae?
Friend (calls to Doug): Should I try the Monday Sundae?

Doug (pops head out the window and sternly points to my friend): Get the Salty Pimp and shut up!
Doug (cracks smile again): The Salty Pimp is so good!

The Making of a Pimp

The Making of a Pimp

As he starts drizzling dulce de leche and salting the Pimp, Doug tells us how Gourmet magazine had written an article last year in which he was named as the friendliest street vendor of all time, and then soon afterwards the magazine folded. In retaliation, he wasn’t going to be nice anymore. He popped his head back out the window and called out to the growing line of customers, “F— you!” Coming from the friendliest street vendor of all time, this show of ‘anger’ was met with cheerful laughter.

It was a good attempt, Doug, but a failed attempt. You’re still pretty darn friendly.

Here’s what Doug usually looks like when he passes a Salty Pimp to the hands of an eagerly waiting customer:

A Cheerful Doug Quint with a Salty Pimp

A Cheerful Doug Quint with a Salty Pimp

Thursday, July 29th, 2010

Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream

I found a new love, and it’s Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream in Cambridge, MA. In fact, I loved it so much that I visited the shop no less than 3 times in 5 days. The texture is perfection – smooth and creamy and not too dense. It’s perfectly scoopable ice cream. Plus, it’s not overly sweet, so the pure flavors of the ingredients really shine through.

Christina's Homemade Ice Cream Storefront

Christina's Homemade Ice Cream Storefront

And with the impressive array of flavors offered, you’ll be glad that you can taste the ingredients. Consider a flavor like Gina’s Mocha Explosion – chocolate and coffee ice cream with crushed Oreos and chocolate chips… don’t you want to taste every bit of goodness in a scoop of that? Believe me, you can. It is heavenly – and if it’s TOO much chocolate for you, don’t worry, because there is a less chocolatey but equally (if not more) delicious flavor called Coffee Oreo, which gives you just enough of the coffee and chocolate combo to leave you happily satisfied (and craving more!)

Gina's Mocha Explosion - mocha ice cream with crumbled oreos and chocolate chips

Gina's Mocha Explosion - mocha ice cream with crumbled oreos and chocolate chips

Once you try Christina’s, you’re going to start looking for something to help stop you from visiting on a daily basis, but unfortunately the prices are too reasonable to act as a deterrent. For a piddly $2.75, you get a nice, big, HEAPING scoop of ice cream. In the middle of Pennsylvania, that may be no small change, but in New York City, that’s nothing. I certainly would trade in a daily cup of Starbucks coffee for Christina’s Coffee Oreo ice cream (if I drank Starbucks coffee)!