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Ice Cream!

So, Boston supposedly has the highest per capita consumption of ice cream in the country.

Where do we get it?
Where shouldn't we get it? My personal rule: if it's not better than Ben & Jerry's, why bother.
What's your favorite flavor?
What unusual flavors are worth trying/best avoided?

(this is an attempt to bring to light some of the discussion in the Someday Cafe thread which I hijacked)

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  1. As I mentioned on said Someday post, I tried Chilly Cow last night and was blown away. Ice cream is my favorite "food"...really. I had their Chilly Trax (like Moose Tracks or Cow Tracks-- vanilla ice cream with peanut butter cup and fudge) It was divine. There were pieces that were half a Reese cup! And the ice cream was rich and good. My friend had something called the Tornato, with Oreo cookie, Tollhouse cookie, M&M and Heath bar. Too many things for my taste, but she said it was fabulous. Prior to this fabulous experience, Christina's is my favorite. Don't care for Toscis (compared to others...they do serve ice cream so it has to been good). I love coffee oreo. Mmmm....

    2 Replies
    1. re: cheesecake

      Obviously I don't live in the area but travel a lot so I may show up to try some, I am curious, can any of these ice creams stand alone without mix-ins and be truly delicious au naturel? What is the quality of the pure ice cream? I know Cold Stone is popular but it is the mix-ins that make the product. Alone on it's own the ice cream is dreadful.

      1. re: cheesecake

        I have to say I was disappointed in Chilly Cow the first couple of visits (not rich or flavorful enough, I thought), but will try again based on your review, maybe I was too harsh?... I live equidistant between Davis Sq & Arlington Center, so have been going to JP Licks instead of the new guys.

        And while I'm here, I'll weigh in on the others -- I do love the flavor choices at Christina's -- a scoop each of ginger and mexican chocolate, mmmmm. And Kimball's & Bedford Farms for the pigging-out factor. I'm just sad they think ice cream is a seasonal thing!

      2. Why, thank you for asking :-).

        The canonical, and well deserved, answer for Cambridge/Somerville is Christina's and Toscanini's, both of which are marvelous. Christina's does particularly well with fruit flavors and has a more summery feel while Toscanini's is very good for chocolaty and coffeey things and, if it's possible for an ice cream place, has a more fall kind of feeling.

        On the other hand, JP Licks in Davis square is always mobbed and the ice cream is mediocre. Definitely better off with B&J's from Store 24.

        1. Christina's I feel is at least on par with other local faves - what sets it apart for me is the intense variety of flavors - such as:

          Rose (which I have to admit tasted a little too much like my grandmother's soap!...mellowed by the end of the scoop)
          Khulfi (cardamom-y!)
          Fresh mint (no green food coloring!)
          Champagne sorbet (I could almost taste the bubbles).

          And it's fairly reasonably priced. On the other hand, I have made a solemn vow NEVER to eat a J.P. Licks over-priced scoop again.

          1. Okay, this is not going to make me popular:

            Although I LOVE their spice shop, I've been disappointed with Christina's ice cream. My complaint is simpleā€”I find that it has too much air in it. For my taste, it is not dense enough. There, I said it.

            Also, having eating in all the popular-to-mention Boston/Cambridge/Somerville ice cream places (and loving many of them), I have to say that I had ice cream surpassing them all on a recent visit to Amy's in Austin, TX. I've heard, though, that Amy's and Toscanini's share recipes.

            4 Replies
            1. re: mhoffman

              Agree re:Christina's -- great flavours, but usually the texture is not sufficiently rich. But there is some batch to batch variation, and once in a while I get something that's nice and sticky.

              BTW, Boston Beanstalk Co. on Salem Street in the North End sells Richardson's Ice Cream. One can find Annabelle's ice cream (from NH) at Cafe Vanille on Charles street, but the quality there is not always great -- the ice cream doesn't seem to be stored properly.

              For Store bought stuff, the goat's milk ice creams from Laloo are expensive ($7 a pint at Whole Foods) but worth a try. Once upon a time Formaggio Kitchen used to stock Out of a Flower, too bad they don't anymore -- it's one of the most refined ice creams I've tried.

              1. re: limster

                I've also decided that Christina's isn't rich enough. And I wish they had more flavors with chips or nuts inside. I do like Richardson's and need to make a trip to the original shop again. For those of you in E. Somerville, Louie's is open again.

                I'm curious about all the JP Licks haters. What is it that is supposedly so bad about their ice cream?

                1. re: Joanie

                  Could you let me know where Louie's is, please? Thanks.

            2. Christina's is my favorite. Summer flavor that excel are the rose and mint. If they bring back the lemon basil or lemon thyme, those are also worthshile. Other flavors that I love there are the burnt sugar, mexican chocolate (the two combined are awesome), khulfi, orange chocolate, sweet cream and pistachio. Their hot fudge is also very good.

              Tosca's - I love the burnt caramel with hot fudge and whipped cream.

              I also really like Rancatores in Belmont. They have a dark chocolate flavor that is very good. Of course, with a little hot fudge and whipped cream.

              I was not impressed with Chilly Cow in Arlington. I've tried the custard as well as the ice cream. The flavors get a little too busy and dense and the custard was practically soup when I had it.

              8 Replies
              1. re: beetlebug

                Rancatore *is* the guy who owns Toscanini's, right? A friend and I stopped into Christina's last weekend and she sure did enjoy her mint choc chip -- I just tasted the awesome hot fudge sauce since I'd already had my dessert at ECG -- a wet bone. :-)

                1. re: yumyum

                  Brothers. One owns Rancs, the other owns Toscas. Rancatores is the surname.

                  1. re: beetlebug

                    and which one is the brother who forgot to renew his lease on the Someday Cafe? Grrrr..... I'm still bummed about that news.

                    1. re: yumyum

                      Hey, that thread got hijacked to ice cream, let's not hijack this one back to Someday :-). Seriously, look at http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/... for Someday.

                      1. re: yumyum

                        I think it is the Tosca brother - Gus.

                        I could use some ice cream now. sigh.

                    2. re: yumyum

                      The owner of Rancatore's is the brother of the owner of Toscanini's.

                    3. re: beetlebug

                      Christina's burnt sugar (sometimes paired with the Mexican Chocolate) with one hot, fresh chocolate chip cookie is blissful.

                      1. re: krissywats

                        Agreed. Although for me, instead of the cookie, I have them put a little hot fudge and whipped cream on the combo. Heaven in Cambridge.

                    4. I like Bedford Farms, but depending on where you're coming from, it can be a bit of a drive.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: CharlestownCarrie

                        .... or a quick run up the Minuteman Bikeway then out Rte. 225 :-D

                      2. There are a lot of very good ice cream places in the downtown Boston/Cambridge area, but if you want what is in my opinion the best the area has to offer, you need to head out to the suburbs for the ice cream offered at some of the local dairy farms.

                        A few favorites include:

                        Kimballs - Westford and Carlisle
                        Richardson's - Middleton
                        Uhlman's - Westborough
                        Erickson's - Maynard
                        Crescent Ridge - Sharon

                        We also like Benson's in Boxford, the Black Cow in Millis and Bedford Farms in Bedford. I've only been to the Thin Lizzy's in Waltham and not the one in Cambridge.

                        If you don't want to hit the burbs the earlier suggestions are good, but the real good stuff in my opinion is in the places I mentioned above. I do like Cold Stone, JP Licks, and Christina's, but I like the idea of going to the roadside or farmside ice cream stand as it adds to the experience for me. However that is just my opinion. If you stay within city limits, the suggestions above are very good...

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Breakfast Club

                          I agree with this post. I tend to frequent Kimballs in Westford and Erickson's in Maynard in the summers. As for flavors:
                          Kimballs- best flavor is Gingersnap Molassas but its seasonal, they wont have it till fall. Of the regular flavors, Coffee Oreo, choc peanutbutter and van. peanut butter cup.
                          Ericksons- Ginger, and they have a couple of really good mint flavors (not green) mint cc and wintergreen is interesting too.

                          1. re: Breakfast Club

                            Benson's is good but to really get the best you have to get thier seasonal fresh fruit flavors. Wow.

                            Richardson's is where I usually end up. Their flavors are carried by many smaller ice cream shops around the area, and not always disclosed as such. Their Toll House Cookie flavor is great but not worth getting at the smaller sotrs where they don't get enough urnover and the cookies get mushy. I like th eMiddleton store but am just as happy with the Jordan's outpost, where the liquid fireworks and trapeze school provide an endless source of entertainment for the kids.

                          2. Living in the South Shore, I have long been a Peaceful Meadows fan, since the Whitman store is only 5 minutes from my house. After years of my girlfriend bugging me to drive the half hour to Cresecent Ridge. I was astounded by the dozen or so windows each with massive lines 20-30 people deep. The small parking lot had cars strewn all over the place. My girlfriend persisted though, and I waited the 30+ minutes in line.

                            I'll be damned if it wasn't totally worth it. Crescent Ridge is my top pick - plus, you get to enjoy your ice cream next a pasture with a cow eating some grass, not a city street.

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: Biggie

                              My sister lives a mile from Crescent Ridge, and you're right - VERY good ice cream. And the lot is always packed, especially on these hot summer days. Although it's always fun to be driving to her house in the dead of winter and still see several cars in the lot and people at the window. :-)

                              I do have to say I really like Christina's. Don't live near enough to make it a regular occurrence, but love it as a special treat if I'm in the neighborhood.

                              (edited to say my sister LIVES...not leaves. <g>)

                              1. re: Biggie

                                Ah, I loved Peaceful Meadows. Black raspberry and their banana was awesome--they didn't use overripe bananas, almost a little green, so the flavor wasn't cloying. Mmmmm, might need to go visit the family soon.

                                1. re: Biggie

                                  just got some crescent ridge (vanilla) from whole foods -- pretty good stuff.

                                2. There is a lot of great ice cream in Boston. I still like Herrel's in Allston but my all time favorite is Toscanini's in Cambridge. The Burnt Caramel is unreal. The combonation of smokey and sweet is mind altering.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: catspercapita

                                    We haven't been back to the Allston Herrell's since the day several years ago when my husband got a dish of orange chocolate from a batch to which someone apparently forgot to add any sugar. (Yes, I mean ANY - I tasted it myself.) To add insult to injury, when hubby went back later to report the problem, the staff were completely unapologetic.

                                    Too bad - we liked the place fine up until then, but the customer service was always a bit iffy - when it was good it was fun and funky, and when it was bad it was dreadful - and that was the last straw.

                                  2. I think Christina's Burnt Caramel is a teeny bit better than Toscanini's, but they're both lovely. I think you need to do a taste test...

                                    And I think JP Licks is just fine, though a completely different style than Tosci's or Christinas, which I find much smoother.

                                    To be honest, I never met an ice cream I didn't like.

                                    1. Another vote for Christina's here. Gina's Mocha Explosion is one of the great things on the planet, my only complaint about it being that I like it so much that it keeps me from ordering all the other flavors I adore as often as I'd like. Carrot Cake, anything involving ginger or cinnamon or banana, Mexican Chocolate. Mmm.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: glenn mcdonald

                                        I have the same "problem" with Christina's carrot cake! It's so good that when they have it, I can't order anything else. The Kulfi is great too, with lots of spices and pistachios... I prefer it to real Indian kulfi, actually.

                                        Rancatore's in Belmont and Lexington has a dreamy Gingersnap Molasses flavor (might be seasonal... it's not always there).

                                      2. I love Christina's, never had a flavor I didn't enjoy. Same Toscanini's. There's a place in Lower Mills in DOT that is terrific. we went all the time when we lived there, now I can't remember the name. Not fancy flavors but good 'ol homemade. I think that Cold Stone is horrid. Grainy and artificial tasting. Athen's in Washington Square in Brookline has wonderful gelato...and the white coffee flavor from JP licks is delicious.

                                        1. I also am partial to Christina's. Right now my favorite flavor is Chocolate Banana (sooo good, perfect balance between banana and chocolate). When I don't know what to get, my default is Coffee Oreo. Yum.

                                          1. Just tried Anagelato (Trapelo Rd. Belmont) and left with a happy tummy. Also partial to Lizzy's homemade (in Waltham Center). But I think my heart belongs to Richardson's (Rt. 114 in Middleton, also available at the Jordan's Furniture in Reading). The Middleton location has actual cows on site, so you know it's fresh (plus mini-golf and a batting cage). Il Panino's owner just opened a new gelato place in the North End. 50 Flavors!

                                            1. Had Russell's Orchards on the way back from Crane yesterday - forgot it was so good. Cookie dough and mint chip.

                                              1. Went to Pianelli Ice Cream Cafe on Holland (heading out of Davis Sqr) this weekend... excited about our flavors (almond joy and turtle (pecan/caramel) since they were displayed so nicely (big chunks of ingredients cover the piles of ice cream)...but was sadly sadly disappointed: ice chunks, plain-tasting ice cream base (not even vanilla-tasting!), and very little ingredients (mix-ins, whatever). I love ice cream as much as the next gal, but it was so bad I didn't even finish my dish ($2.99/small)!

                                                However, we were redeemed at Chilly Cow in Arlington...very tasty, tho it annoys me to pay .25 cents for jimmies...

                                                1. If you're into chips in your ice cream, quality at Lizzy's (new Church Street location great!) is exceptional.

                                                  Also, do yourself a favor and mail order some of this:

                                                  1. i don't get christina's at all. just don't like it.
                                                    love herrel's
                                                    like jp licks
                                                    like emack and bolio's
                                                    like toscanini's but not blown away like many
                                                    like crescent ridge in sharon
                                                    like athen's gelato in brookline
                                                    confess to missing carvel

                                                    the rest i could do without, though I haven't tried Lizzy's.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: hungryone

                                                      Hawkeye, you are right on the money; Graeter's rocks! Especially the raspberry chocolate chunk, which I will soon try to create at home. All you ice cream folks, do you know a place I can get raspberry puree (not jam or preserves) for a flavoring, since it's impossible to find fresh black raspberries here in Steubenville, OH? Thanks a bunch.

                                                    2. I think JP Licks is fine, but not anything special and super expensive. I do, however, love their hot fudge.

                                                      Toscanini's is very good, esp. the burnt caramel.

                                                      I haven't been to Christina's yet, but plan to as soon as possible. Carrot cake ice cream sounds supergood. And I want to try their burnt sugar to compare to Toscanini's.

                                                      Herrel's ice cream seems less good to me (it has that chewy texture going on a bit), but they have lots of interesting flavors. I love that the Harvard Sq. location had 4 different vanillas at the same time.

                                                      I grew up near Crescent Ridge and like it okay, especially frozen pudding. However, it frustrates me that you *cannot* get a small cone from them, no matter how much you beg and plead. They will only give you 2 giant scoops, so I then have to wrangle one into the trash without wrecking my cone. Next time I go, I think I'll try to get a cup and lid with my cone so that I can at least take the extra ice cream home.

                                                      One of my favorite ice creams is mint chocolate chip from Hilliard's House of Candy. They use really tasty chocolate in it instead of that waxy stuff.

                                                      2 Replies
                                                      1. re: maillard

                                                        The burnt sugar from Christina's and the burnt caramel from Tosca's are different from each other. Not apples and oranges but maybe oranges and grapefruits. The burnt sugar is a little lighter than the caramel. Both are delicious though and it would be great to get them both at the same time.

                                                        I love Christina's but a small quibble - when you order a small, you can only get one flavor. I think other places, including Toscas and Rancs, they let you get two flavors with a small serving.

                                                        1. re: beetlebug

                                                          I remember my one time at Kimball's in Carlisle where you're only allowed one flavor on their "small", which is eqivalent to a jumbo large supersize at any of the Boston places. Ridiculous that you can't get 2 flavors.

                                                      2. Has anyone ever tried Berkshire Ice Cream? I have heard it was excellent but never tried it for myself. I hate Coldstone with a passion-walmart of ice cream. I just tried Christina's for the first time-had the burnt sugar-and really liked it. I used to love to go to Steve's in Harvard Square. Now, in Allston, my choices are Herrrell's-good cookies and cream but kind of annoying staff and then the JP Licks on Harvard ave in Brookline. Decent but not my favorite. My experience with Toscanini's was just average-I had the burnt caramel I think. It felt dirty in there for some reason.

                                                        1. i so agree about coldstone...it's the dumbing down of ice cream.
                                                          hopefully, it's a flash in the pan and won't hurt the better home grown products because they do seem to have lines a lot of the time.
                                                          i just don't get it as their ice cream is really, really poor

                                                          1. i am eating some reese's icecream from richardson's right this very minute, and it's delicious! very rich, and very creamy - better than most i would say.

                                                            1. I've heard that Bedford Farms doesn't make their own ice cream, does anyone know where they get it? is it Richardsons?

                                                              their sign says "homemade style" not "homemade".

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: jackattack

                                                                Yes, I know the owner, and it's Richardson's ice cream. They don't publicize it though, and seem content to let the mis-perception that it's all hand made on the premises live on. Good marketing strategy, I suppose.

                                                              2. RON'S GOURMET!!!

                                                                MELETHARB'S !!!

                                                                MAD MAGGIES !!!!

                                                                Geesh! Don't you people ever get out of Cambridge?????

                                                                1. Another vote for Benson's on route 133 (in Boxford)! We took a wrong turn and ended up driving past yesterday. Seeing the "homemade" sign I insisted on doing a U-turn and was rewarded with two amazing scoops: red raspberry made with local berries, and coconut with nice toasty pieces (this despite the fact that I am usually vehemently opposed to 'bits' in ice cream). As I rode shotgun and devoured the melting mass, I looked over to my DC and I must have appeared kinda crazed as I enthused, "This is the best ice cream I've had in ages!" because he cracked up. I was somewhat miffed and asked what was so funny. So he pointed out he'd been tipped off to the fact that I was enjoying it by the fact that we'd been driving for miles with it smeared all over my face. Incidentally, route 133 'round there seems to be very ice cream rich. We passed at least two other places advertising homemade ice cream but by then we were too full to sample those as well.

                                                                  1. I am quite partial to JP Licks in JP. Partly because I can walk there thus walking up an appetite, but also becuase I like their cucumber icecream. Their strawberry icecream with hot fudge is yummy.
                                                                    Also a fan of Toscanini's - but not the one in harvard square as it tends to be kind of grubby. Favorite flavour is earl grey.
                                                                    Emack and Bolio's is ok - only go there if I have my lap top and want to use the web.
                                                                    Still looking for a really good chocolate ice cream.
                                                                    Happy snacking!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: Rosey

                                                                      Hard to beat Herrell's chocolate pudding flavor!

                                                                    2. I second the person who suggested Ron's. They are in a most unlikely setting--a bowling alley next to the police station on Hyde Park Ave--but their ice cream is divine. The kahlua chip is my favorite.

                                                                      1. Kimball Farms in Westford is quite good, as is White Farms in Ipswich. The BEST, however, has to be Richardson's in Middleton! Every time someone tells me about ice cream that's "better than Richardson's", a little bit of research proves that it IS Richardson's.

                                                                        The funny thing is... the critics seem to overlook the place... I can't tell you how many "top ten ice cream parlors in (New England/Massachusetts, etc) I've seen where Richardson's was absent from the list. One (Boston magazine, I think) even included a New York State ice cream parlor in their New England top ten. I just don't get it.

                                                                        Oh, and I've been to Austin and had Amy's... it's good, but it definately doesn't stand up to the farmside stands of New England.

                                                                        1. Excellent question, but I dispute the facts. It is a typically provincial Boston myth that we are the highest per-capita consumers of ice cream. I don't know exactly where we are, But Portland, OR, St. Louis, and Seattle are the top three.

                                                                          For my opinion, I think we have a wealth of excellent shops, from Richardsons and Kimball's, to JP Licks and Christina's. So much depends on personal preferences and flavors. One ice cream I find over rated is Lizzy's. They admittedly don't even make their own base, and tehy have carageenan and guar gum added to the base. I like their flavors but I am unsatisfied with the texture.

                                                                          10 Replies
                                                                          1. re: AHan

                                                                            We've moved the reply on the ice cream consumption statistics to Not About Food. Please continue this aspect of the discussion there.


                                                                            1. re: AHan

                                                                              I would be interested to know what ice cream shops do make their own base. I can imagine that some of the dairy farms do, but Toscanini's and others buy the base (they even used to make you a latte with 18% ice cream base on request).

                                                                              One that seems a little less known, but is pretty good is Sunshine Farm in Sherborn. In West Medford we also have Camille's ice cream which is good for a quick fix, but I wish they would expand the flavor selection a bit.

                                                                              1. re: itaunas

                                                                                Sunshine Farm doesn't even make their own ice cream. It is good, can't remember where they told me it comes from though.

                                                                                1. re: itaunas

                                                                                  I'd be surprised if *anyone* makes their own base -- it's very hard to meet the USDA guidelines to manufacture mix. At a minimum, you're talking about $100K of equipment for a decent pastuerizer and a food processing building. Richardson's supposedly does *some*, but I have it on good authority that they use the same base mix (Hood's) as 90% of the other shops in the New England area for many of their flavors.

                                                                                  (Makes sense to me, as they just don't have enough cows to produce enough milk to supply their store plus all of the other shops that sell Richardson's ice cream...)

                                                                                  1. re: sgerard

                                                                                    Why? Ice cream shops make what, 5 gallons of ice cream at a time? The milk products come to them pasteurized already. What are the USDA guidelines for making abatch of ice cream in your store?

                                                                                    1. re: AHan

                                                                                      Yeah, most places run either a 5 or 10 gallon finish batch. But you can't just buy milk, cream, sugar, stabilizers, etc and mix them -- even if they're individually pastuerized, USDA requires that they be re-pastuerized after mixing, so to legally do it, you need a pastuerizer, the cheapest of which is made by Carpigiani, and costs around $35K (and doesn't meet the requirements of most state's health guidelines). Trust me on this -- I've done a lot of research on it.

                                                                                      Again, I'd be extremely surprised to hear of more than a handful of made-on-site shops in the area who are making their own mix rather than just buying Hood 12 or 14% ice cream mix and adding flavorings. The only place that I can think of off the top of my head that likely makes their own mix is Richardson's, and I'm pretty sure they don't do it for all of their ice cream.

                                                                                2. re: AHan

                                                                                  I'm surprised when I hear Lizzy's mentioned as one of the best as well. It's good, but not great, imo.

                                                                                  In their defense, just about *all* ice cream shops have to purchase their base mix -- I'd be surprised if anyone around here has the equipment to make their own. Plus, guam gum and carageenan are natural stabilizers / emulsifiers found in just about all mixes. Much better than the artificial stabilizers found in some of the mixes that I've seen.

                                                                                  1. re: sgerard

                                                                                    Haagen Daz, Breyers (the classic Breyers not the newfangled junk), Double Rainbow and McConnells of Santa Barbara California seem to all be able to make exceptional ice creams WITHOUT the addition of guar gums and carageenan.

                                                                                    1. re: jackattack

                                                                                      I haven't tried the others, but calling Haagen Daz or Breyers "exceptional" isn't accurate, imo, especially comparing them to any of the "Homemade" (more accurately, "batch freezer made") shops in this thread.

                                                                                      1. re: sgerard

                                                                                        I'm not big on Breyers, but I think both Double Rainbow and Haagen Dazs can stand up to 1/2 the homemade stuff. HD strawberry is better than most in the shops.

                                                                                3. Things pale here compared to 20 years ago. Back then, there were over one dozen places in the Harvard Square hood alone, believe it or not.

                                                                                  1. True enough Karl. It's hard to make a living dishing out ice cream in high rent areas like Harvard Sq. I'd venture the majority of consumed ice cream around here is purchased by the pint or half gallon in supermarkets though.

                                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                                    1. re: AHan

                                                                                      Where can you find a half gallon in a supermarket anymore? They're all short about 8 ounces! Check the labels!