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Ice cream adventurer?

  • p

I stopped at my local Gifford's to get an ice cream cone today. It's not the best ice cream in the world (butter fat not high enough, I guess) but good. My current favorite flavor is something called Caramel Caribou. Yup! Anyway, that's what I *always* get. So today I thought I'd get out of my rut and ordered up a scoop of rum raisin. ICK!! It was really offensive to my ice cream palate! So I was wondering, do you all skip around ordering different flavors at your ice cream stand or are you a stick in the mud, like I am?

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  1. I suppose I'm one of the S-I-T-M club members, too, but with a very little bit of variation. It's nearly always mint chocolate chip, occasionally chocolate, and, rarely, coffee. But, hey, when you know what works for you, why chance it? Especially when those ice cream cones (sugar cone, please, not wafer) are few and far between.

    1. For me it depends on the season. A good pumpkin or eggnog ice cream in the right season really hits the spot. The fresh fruit flavors, like peach and strawberry, are good in the summer, along with the old standbys. But sometimes only a dependable old favorite will do! In that case, it's vanilla, butter pecan, or coffee.

      1. I was just going to post that the one flavor I *never* go for is pumpkin and then read LBQT's post. very bad experience with a huge milkshake in jr. high when Baskin/Robbins was the talk of the town. I'll venture other flavors (nothing still tastes as good as Howard Johnson's peppermint stick, though) as long as the colors are natural. Superman--multicolored dayglo colors--could be heaven but I can't get beyond the appearance (yuck!) Enjoy trying different sorbets, intense fruit flavors. I generally avoid the really rich, gooey ice creams with loads of extras. Is this stick in the mud?

        16 Replies
        1. re: berkleybabe

          Not at all. Those add-ins dilute the essential character of pure ice cream and distract from it.

          1. re: berkleybabe

            I love sorbets too: mango, lemon (especially), raspberry, etc. etc. I consider them a separate entity from ice cream. I don't care much for mix-ins either. pat

            1. re: pat hammond
              Caitlin McGrath

              Great sorbet with intense flavors is amazing. The one I love that just isn't (or rarely) made in the US is blackcurrent. That said, the two best I've ever had were 1) fresh mint sorbet at Union Square Cafe in NYC around six years ago. Still trying to figur out how to get all that flavor into an infusion; most refreshing thing I've ever eaten, and 2) blackberry sorbet I made myself. Went out and picked the ripe-to-bursting berries off the bushes, walked inside and made it. Most intense flavor you can imagine, stained our lips and tongues black.

              1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                There are incredibly good blackcurrants available from local farmers right now in N.Y.Also,for great mint ice cream,use black mint from Stokes Farm[at Union Square greenmarket].

            2. re: berkleybabe

              I know pumpkin isn't a really popular flavor, but a really excellent ice cream might win you over - The best pumpkin ice cream ever was at a long gone West Los Angeles institution, Clancy Muldoon's, which had taken over the LA Wil Wright's ice cream parlor chain. Their product was full of fresh pumpkin and spice flavor, and like all of their other ice creams, the butterfat content was somewhere in the stratosphere. Every fall I just *have to* sample a cone or two in search of that original perfection.

              1. re: LBQT

                Sorry, pumpkin ice cream is forever locked in my gastronomic mind with a coincidental one week stomach flu. No can do! But, in theory, yours sounds well-made.

                1. re: LBQT

                  When I was a kid and Baskin Robbins was just starting, their pumpkin icecream was just marvellous. And their pink grapefruit ice. But that was more than 30 yrs ago and it aint the same now.

                  1. re: jen kalb
                    Caitlin McGrath

                    My family didn't go to B-R (having superior options), but in grade school, we got an afternoon walking outing to the nearby B-R every month or two as a treat (not that we were treated, this being public school). This was twenty-some years ago, and while I don't remember pink grapefruit ice, there was a period when I deviated from my standard of Jamoca Almond Fudge and always got daquiri ice which, as a fifth-grader, I thought was the height of sophistication. (IIRC, it was essentially just lime, but it was the cocktail association that made me feel so much more advanced than my classmates who still ordered bubblegum...)

                    1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                      That brings back memories of my childhood. I was allergic to milk (among other things), and I don't think at that time there were many dairy free options for ice cream in Syracuse - except for the dacuiri ice at Baskin Robbins. As a consolation for not being able to eat ice cream, my father would buy me the entire serving container (the big ones in the case) of the stuff to keep in the freezer at home. I had no idea at the time what a daquiri was - only as I got older did I realize what a strange flavor option this was for a kid.

                      Every once in a while I get the urge to head to BR and have a scoop...but after eating it for so long, I think I've had my fill for a lifetime...

                      BTW - my dad always got himself a huge container of Jamoca Almond Fudge, his favorite.

                      1. re: Kim B

                        One of those childhood memories that takes on mythic dimensions: the time my mother took us to Baskin Robbins and we got a scoop of every one of the 31 flavors.

                        Probably my earliest Chowhound memory.

                        PS I still usually stick to chocolate chip.

                  2. re: LBQT

                    And a good place in San Francisco for pumpkin ice cream is Joe's - out on Geary near 18th. They make all their own ice cream and change some of the flavors every few months. The pumpkin was one of the late fall flavors. And I tend to be one of the try a different flavor types each trip (except during "pumpkin season"!)

                    1. re: LBQT

                      I've said it before elsewhere on these boards: Chinatown Ice Cream Factory on Bayard at Mott in NYC makes a kick-ass pumpkin ice cream: smooth, rich (not too fatty) and plenty of bright, spicy-sweet flavor. A good thing to tide you over if you can't make it upstate to Meredith's or across the country to San Fran. I could never wait til Fall, anyway.

                      1. re: LBQT

                        It's been several years, so my memory may be hazy, but I seem to recall a pumpkin ginger ice cream at Herrell's in Beantown -- not bad, but you REALLY had to like ginger, as its flavor was almost overpowering in the ice cream!

                        I think that was the one and only time I ever got a flavor other than the chocolate pudding (the most intense chocolate ice cream hit I've had outside of Italy)....

                      2. re: berkleybabe

                        GREAT pumpkin ice cream at Meredith's Bread (419 Route 28, Kingston) upstate. i think they only make it in fall.

                        for more info, see the 4/2 entry in the dining diary linked below

                        Link: http://www.chowhound.com/dinner/10-12...

                        1. re: berkleybabe

                          "...nothing still tastes as good as Howard Johnson's peppermint stick..."

                          Berkleybabe, can't believe someone else remembers this old favorite. Those itty bits of red candy in that delicious peppermint ice-cream. Funny thing is, I am not normally a peppermint fan - but that flavor always won me over. Even if it WAS sickly sweet! Caramel, or was it toffee, Crunch wasn't half bad either! Wonder if peppermint stick is around anymore.... I'll try any flavor ice-cream, but a REAL French vanilla is most refreshing!

                          1. re: AliceJ

                            The other thing that made peppermint stick ice cream at HoJo's so extra tasty was that it was served with a conical scoop, not a round scoop, so you could start at the pointy top (which was where the REAL flavor was.) I remember servings were huge, too. You don't see that flavor around much --or maybe I'm not looking....After a dinner of fried clams, it was the perfect ending.

                        2. I'm another one who tends to stick to a few favorites, in my case chocolate, peppermint stick, buttercrunch and other variations along choc/mint/caramel lines. Usually I at least *think* about giving the black raspberry or the pistachio a chance, but I rarely do. As Dena points out, those ice-cream-cone occasions are too rare and precious to tamper with. Ice cream is such a classic comfort food, I'm not surprised to hear that so many of us otherwise adventurous eaters retreat to our safety zones when it comes to our cones.

                          1. Depends on my feel for the place. If I go to what seems to be a serious establishment, especially if I will have a chance to go back, I usually order one of my "tester" flavors, usually vanilla or coffee. If I'm not impressed, chances are this won't become a favorite of mine, and I'm more likely to try gimmicky flavors (especially caramel-based ones).

                            The better I like the vanilla or coffee, the more likely I am to try fruit-based ice creams (a bad strawberry or mango is somehow more depressing to me than a bad butter pecan).

                            1. Depends where I am indulging. Black raspberry is my very favorite, unless I am at Dortman's Dairy Dream near Rockland, Me. and then it's Pistachio all the way! Soft icecream is another matter.........vanill only.

                              1. Chocolate. I will pretty much only eat chocolate. Occasionally my ice cream place has chocolate hazelnut and if I'm really feeling adventurous I'll get that.

                                My very sweet grandmother scowled only once in my short life, when an ice cream parlor was out of chocolate. we found somewhere else to go.


                                1. I can't believe more people don't get excited about making their own flavors at home. I know the post is about going to the shop, but it's so fun and easy at home.

                                  In the season, any berry or fruit with sugar and cream is terrific ( add a little vanilla). We've invented our favorites: coconut ice cream over grilled, rum-soaked pineapple, orange - mascarpone, caramel and butterscotch.

                                  1. c
                                    Chuck Kirkpatrick

                                    Just ask to sample untested offerings. I have never been to an ice cream shop that wouldn't let me sample.

                                    1. Life really began for me this spring when a small ice cream shop opened up on the corner - a full 90 steps from my apartment. They keep about 12 flavors at any one time, but the flavors are constantly rotating - without any constants kept. Forces me to experiment. Fell in love with black cherry vanilla only to have it gone the next week.

                                      But here's another way to approach it. Get two scoops. The top scoop is the new flavor you're experimenting with, and your all-time favorite as the bottom scoop as a little reward for yourself for being so adventurous. Added bonus - you almost have a third flavor in there somewhere in the middle where the two flavors are going to mix on the tounge. Always some interesting little taste surprises in that area.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Schmingrid

                                        That's brilliant, Schmingrid! And so obvious, once you see it. Will deploy this strategy on my next visit to my local. (Which, in case anybody needs to know where to go in Beverly, MA, is Dick & June's. They're on Elliot St., Rte. 62 toward Danvers, and they also have a concession at Lynch Park in the summer.)

                                      2. For me,nothing beats a fresh berry ice cream;from a black raspberry good humor bar that I remember loving as a child,to the myrtle ice cream served in a brioche roll that I recently had in Salerno,Italy.Pure,strong flavors are the best,no mix in stuff for me...

                                        1. Strawberry & Balsamic Vinegar ice cream? There's a place here in Tucson that just opened up called Feast, and they make all kinds of outrageous ice cream. Problem is, each one is a limited run, and when it's sold out you may never see it again. The new flavor when I was there earlier this week is a more sedate Caramel Walnut Fudge. However, the strawberry and balsamic vinegar ice cream was OUTRAGEOUS. I hadn't tasted anything like it before, and I'm hoping that I don't have sudden cravings for it strike since they don't have any more there.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: JK Grence
                                            Simon Majumdar

                                            Strawberrys and balsamic vinegar is a classic combination.

                                            If you don't believe it, try adding a few quartered strawbs into a salad with a balasamic based dressing. it sound odd but the results are unbelievable



                                            1. re: Simon Majumdar

                                              Agreed, Simon. The perfect use for your most prized balsamic vinegar. pat

                                              1. re: Simon Majumdar

                                                Yes, I've had strawberries and balsamic vinegar before many times, and like it very much. It's just that I had never, *ever* dreamed of making it an ice cream- especially since it was balsamic vinegar ice cream with strawberries mixed in. The base was really good even without the strawberries. Maybe I should ask the guy how he did it. All this thinking about that ice cream is bringing on a craving for it, and the place is closed today! Arrrrg!