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)!

Coffee Oreo and Burnt Sugar with Oreo Cookie Crumbs

Coffee Oreo and Burnt Sugar with Oreo Cookie Crumbs

The only downside to Christina’s is probably the dour staff… it’s a very different experience than Bi-Rite Creamy in San Francisco, where the employees are practically shoving every flavor at you because they’re so excited to have you try it. At Christina’s, it feels like you’re causing an inconvenience for them each time you ask for a sample. I know scooping ice cream is probably a thankless job for the most part, but a little smile goes a long way. I know I was showering them with grateful smiles left and right.

That being said, the ice cream here is so good that I would follow it to the ends of the earth no matter how grumpy the employees were! And if I’m willing to dismiss the lack of congeniality in my overall impression of a place, the food better be really really amazing. Which it is.

Menu of Today's Flavors

Menu of Today's Flavors

Here are the flavors I had the good fortune to sample:

  • Banana - This was creamy and tasted like freshly smashed bananas. One of my favorites!
  • Burnt Sugar- This gives Bi-Rite’s salted caramel a run for its money – it has deeply layered sweetness with slightly bitter finish – also recommend
  • Chocolate Banana – Unfortunately the banana component of this one was too subtle for me – it tasted like really good chocolate ice cream.
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter – This combo worked better for me – the peanut butter flavor still came through the chocolate ice cream base nicely.
  • Coffee Oreo – One of the best flavors I’d tasted – not too sweet with a rich coffee flavor and just the right amount of moist, crumbled oreo cookies swirled throughout
  • Fig - This tasted remarkably just like figs. But, it wasn’t one of my favorites, mainly because I think that figs are sometimes too rich and densely sweet for me, even in whole fruit form. I do generally like figs, but I can’t eat too many of them at once. A fig fanatic would be all over this one, but I need something to cut through all that sweetness. Maybe a balsamic fig flavor would have worked really well for my taste.
  • Fresh Mint – Another one of my favorites – this is a seasonal flavor and it very refreshing and tastes just like pure mint
  • Gina’s Mocha Explosion – This is a souped up version of Coffee Oreo, with a mocha ice cream base instead of coffee, and chocolate chips in addition to crumbled Oreos. If you are in need of a bigger sugar rush but love Coffee Oreo, go for this one.
  • Khulfi – A lot of people were ordering this one so I wanted to try it – it has a bit too many spices going on for me
  • Peanut Butter Chip – Again, the peanut butter was too subtle for me in this one, even though the it was a peanut butter ice cream base. I’d be really interested in seeing an “Elvis” version, with peanut butter and bananas!
  • Taza Chocolate – This was amazingly rich 80% dark chocolate – excellent in combination with the fresh mint!
Fresh Mint and 80 percent Taza Chocolate

Fresh Mint and 80 percent Taza Chocolate

I was so crazy about the ice cream I became obsessed about bringing home several pints to New York City. I had a whole plan in place for my last day in Boston: 1) get cooler, 2) get dry ice, 3) get ice cream, 4) book it home. I tracked down a styrofoam cooler from CVS pharmacy and called every Wal-Mart in the area to ask if they stocked dry ice. No luck there. But, I did find an ice and coal shop in Brookline that sold dry ice in 5 lb increments. Score! Yes, i was that crazy. For 5 pints and 2 quarts, I had gotten about 10 lbs of dry ice, but in retrospect I probably could have used just 5, since I had more than half left when I got to New York, and the ice cream was frozen solid, AND the ice cream had already been sitting in my car for about 4 hours before I started my drive back.

I highly recommend this plan to anyone else who wants to stock up on delicious ice cream for the next year. Plus, each pint will set you back less than 5 dollars – which is about the price of a Ben and Jerry’s in New York City. I also highly recommend Brookline Ice and Coal for dry ice needs – everyone working there was immensely helpful and friendly. They also sell shipping boxes with styrofoam if you feel like surprising a very special person in your life with an overnight package of frozen treats. (I can give you my address…haha)

Coffee Oreo, Vanilla, and Coconut - Everyone liked Coffee Oreo!!

Coffee Oreo, Vanilla, and Coconut - Everyone liked Coffee Oreo!!

Here are some on my “must-try-next-time” list: pear sorbet, blueberry, white coffee mocha flake, lemon mousse, honey, blood peach sorbet, ginger molasses, apple pie, and carrot cake. Sound tempting enough? I challenge anyone to visit the shop and not find a flavor they fall in love with!

Here’s the rundown:
Christina’s Homemade Ice Creamfive_cones
1255 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02139-1338
(617) 492-7021
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Hours: Monday – Sunday, 11:30am to 10:30pm

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