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Apr 18, 2010 10:29 AM

Jeni's Ice Cream -- now at Formaggio Kitchen

I just discovered that Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge has started stocking icecream from Jeni's of Columbus Ohio. At $12/pint it's not cheap, but it's some of the best ice cream I've had anywhere. They don't carry Jeni's signature Salty Caramel, but they had the Gravel Road (salty caramel with ground almonds) that might be even better. Definitely worth a try.

Formaggio Kitchen
244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

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  1. Great tip, thank you! Once in a while, when I hear someone raving about Jeni's ice cream, I think about mail-ordering it, but it seems way too indulgent (especially when Toscanini's et al. are right here). $12 a pint is still pretty indulgent, but seems worth it one time to satisfy my curiosity.

    1. With all the amazing ice cream in Boston, much of it made locally, how can any ice cream be that much better? The ingredients are pretty straight forward, and $12 a pint. Just more foodie butterfly collecting. Seriously, Boston has some of the best ice cream in the world and we need to pay $12 a pint for ice cream from Ohio?

      14 Replies
      1. re: StriperGuy

        Boston does indeed have very good ice cream. As a former Columbus-ite who fell in love with Jeni's when it was just a small food stall downtown, it's been amazing to watch the word spread about her awesome icecream. It's a matter of taste, of course, and it's obvious your mind's made up before even tasting the stuff, but I'm happy I can now get my hometown icecream here in Boston.

        1. re: Boston_Otter

          Heck, you've tried it, I haven't, is it THAT good that it is worth $12 a pint?

          1. re: StriperGuy

            I ordered the variety six-pack by mail for a friend one Christmas a few years ago. The ice cream was good and the flavors were interesting (I think we loved three of the flavors, liked one and thought two were ok) and it was fun to send a random food find by mail ($78 for six pints including shipping) but I didn't think it was anything truly special. I personally like Toscanini's better. And $12 seems steep to me.

            1. re: StriperGuy

              It depends on the flavor. Many of their flavors are tasty and/or fascinating (they did a seasonal line of cheese-flavored ice creams last year, and this summer are doing some flower-flavored ones) but aren't worth buying a pint. The Salty Caramel, however, I feel is worth $12. I've had skeptical friends try the stuff and declare it to be the best ice cream they'd ever eaten. It's dense, nearly gelato-like, so a pint goes a long way. YMMV, of course.

                1. re: Boston_Otter

                  Woohoo! Thank you for the news, Boston Otter! You made my day!

                  I'm from Columbus and I agree with Boston Otter that it varies from flavor to flavor. The coffee is not super-sweet, but actually tastes like a cup of strong brewed coffee. The pistachio tastes like the nuts, themselves, rather than pistachio flavoring. Many flavors are far less sweet than other ice cream makers, so sour cherry, cassis, and apricot were actually quite tart. I suspect we won't get special flavors like buttered brioche with apricot jam, curried cream with chocolate & cashews, or butternut squash with pecan pralines (NOT the butterCUP squash, which was blah), for which I would gladly pay $12. OK, maybe not gladly, but willingly.

                  I am a little worried about the texture. I think the textures changed over the years. It was silkier when it was made at the market that sold it than when they branched out and were moving it from the kitchen to the ice cream shops. So we'll see how it travels to Cambridge.

                  I've been happy with Toscanini's flavors/textures/price since I moved here. Jeni's pints are $7-11 at the Ohio shops, so I was especially happy with how (relatively) affordable Toscanini's are (although they've gone up too!). I will probably save Jeni's for when I feel homesick or want to share a taste of Columbus.

                  1. re: quirkydeb

                    Here's the flavors Formaggio currently carries:
                    Black Coffee, Dark Chocolate, Riesling Poached Pear, Meyer Lemon Yogurt, Mango Lassi, Savannah Buttermint, Gravel Road and Brown Butter Brittle.

                    I wish they'd carry the Smoked Chocolate (dark chocolate and lapsang souchong tea ice cream), and I just heard about Jeni's new seasonal flavor: BUCKEYE. How much more Columbus-y can you get? Maybe it'll come in a scarlet-and-grey pint container ;)

                    I agree with quirkydeb, though, that the texture of their icecream isn't as smooth as what you get fresh in their Columbus kitchen. Still....

                    1. re: Boston_Otter

                      Does anyone have any feedback on the flavors that Formaggio doesn't carry? After recently enjoying the decadence known as Savannah Buttermint, I had to look up Jeni's other offerings online. If you say these are worth it, I just might have to splurge and order:
                      - Cherry Lambic
                      - Goat Cheese with Roasted Red Cherries
                      - Queen City Cayenne
                      Thanks in advance!

                      1. re: somuchdessert

                        I don't want to encourage your habit, but I cannot cut down your cherry lambic. Formaggio Kitchen had it on Sunday.

                        Formaggio Kitchen
                        244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                  2. re: Boston_Otter

                    I love Jeni's ice cream, but I just bought my first pint at Formaggio, and I'm afraid it's going to have to be my last. It was $13 (12.95), not $12! I don't know why that extra buck put me over the edge, but it did. I'll be very surprised if people are willing to buy it at that price, especially if they haven't had it before. I'll truly enjoy this pint of Savannah Buttermint and then go back to Toscanini's & making my own.

                    1. re: quirkydeb

                      Agree -- I tried a pint of the Gravel Road (tastes like brown butter, almonds, caramel -- like a very sophisticated butter pecan) and was very impressed, but as others have mentioned, we have fantastic ice cream right here for much cheaper. I'll put Jeni's right up there with Tosci's and Christina's, and I love the different flavor choices, but it's not worth the premium. Glad I tried it once, though.

                      1. re: Pia

                        I'd agree that compared to the price of Tosci's, etc, $13 a pint is a large premium. For me, though, I'd compare it to other gourmet treats such as cupcakes from Kickass or other such things, and I get much more enjoyment out of a $13 pint of Jeni's than three small, dry, bite-size cupcakes for the same cost.

                      2. re: quirkydeb

                        There's one major part of this discussion missing, which is how the actual dairy in the ice cream is sourced. This obviously means different things to different people, but the dairy industry is essentially a gigantic machine; if you're at all concerned with where your meat comes from, you should be just as concerned with where your dairy comes from.

                        Jeni's sources all of its dairy from a single, 100% grass-fed herd in Ohio -- Snowville Creamery, to be specific. This very much increases the price of their product, but it also increases the quality, and supports sustainable, local (to Ohioans) dairy, to say nothing of their other ingredients, of which almost all are local to Ohio.

                        Toscanini's, on the other hand, sources their dairy from H.P. Hood, and most or all of their non-dairy food ingredients from Perkins Foodservice. Don't get me wrong: Hood and Perkins are both headquartered locally and provide jobs to thousands, which is great, but sustainability is not part of their model or their ethos. It's worth noting that Hood has been actively dropping its contracts with local organic milk providers, in order to keep up with the rising cost of organic labeling and production. This is partially the USDA's fault.

                        It's about what you want to support, really: sustainable or local. I'm not going to try and say that one is better than the other, but let's not compare the two based purely on dollars. To do so does a disservice to food in general. Though I'm enjoying the metaphor, there's much more going on here than "foodie butterfly collecting."

                        1. re: quirkydeb

                          The Buttermint was SO good. Buttery and pepperminty, as I guess it should be. I hoped it wouldn't be as good as I remembered, but it was. My husband even asked for seconds. Texture could be lusher and and smoother, but I've been making my own custard ice cream, so I could just be more used to that eggy mouthfeel.

                2. I tried the Gravel Road today. Please run to get this ice cream.....I ate the entire pint in the car!!

                  1 Reply
                  1. I am chuckling at this post as I live in Columbus, Ohio and will be traveling to Boston (Waltham) next month for DD's college graduation. Your post makes me think I should pack pints in a large cooler and set up a roadside stand just outside Logan. An you are correct, the Salty Caramel is to die for.

                    Very fortunate to live in a small in town suburb where Jeni's, Graeter's and Johnson's are all within walking distance.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Diane in Bexley

                      Does it cost $12/pint in Columbus too?

                      If not, you could seriously undercut the Boston-area competition. :)

                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                        I've never had Jeni's, but I would easily pay $12 for a pint of Graeter's chocolate chip. Diane, you are so lucky!

                        1. re: sallyt

                          Wow! If only I had known, my DD is finishing up 4 years at Brandeis ($$$). We could have paid for her tuition with bootlegged ice cream, it appears. At $8/pint (maybe I could have negotiated a wholesale price), we would have at least covered airfare and hotel. But battling the TSA with ice cream, not sure we could have gotten past security! Not sure how much is Graeter's, but Johnson's, a local homemade ice cream is $4-5/pint.

                        2. re: Diane in Bexley

                          I've occasionally been tempted to mail-order some Graeter's, but their mail-order costs make it even more expensive than Jeni's. Their black raspberry chip is amazing. Yes, folks, improbably Columbus Ohio has some of the best ice cream in the US :)

                          1. re: Boston_Otter

                            Graeter's is apparently in the process of expanding to national distribution.

                        3. Just to put things in perspective I was in Rancatore's in Belmont recently and their superb ice cream was $9 A QUART. I had a truly amazing Khulfi cone...

                          9 Replies
                          1. re: StriperGuy

                            Yup. After being used to Jeni's prices, my jaw dropped at how affordable Toscanini's is!

                            1. re: StriperGuy

                              Agreed - their khulfi is the best I know of anyone and one of their very best flavors!

                              1. re: rlh

                                I like Christina's Kulfi the best.

                                I saw this ice cream at Verrill Farm yesterday. Anyone try it?

                                Also anyone try Alden's? It kind of cheap but looks decent.

                                Verrill Farm
                                11 Wheeler Rd, Concord, MA, MA 01742

                                1. re: tatsu

                                  I hate to pour hot water on this kulfi parade, especially containing as it does chowhounds I admire and respect, but nothing that you get commercially in the Boston area is genuine kulfi. Real Kulfi is an icecream-like product made from reduced milk that's frozen in metallic cones by placing them (the filled cones) in an earthenware pot containing ice and rock salt, then rocking the pot back and forth. The texture is denser and harder than icecream. It's a rich concoction and is frequently eaten with cornstarch noodles called falooda. They cut the richness. Kulfi can be flavored with saffron, or *finely* ground almonds or pistachios. My favorite, though, is the plain "malai kulfi" (literally cream kulfi), with just the faintest hint of cardamom. The predominant taste is that of the caramelized milk.

                                  Kulfi is not the overly cardamomy, overly nutty substance that masquerades under that name in the Boston area. And calling it Khulfi (as some places do) is akin to calling Gandhi Ghandi. I've seen it done, but it's plain wrong.

                                  1. re: FoodDabbler

                                    Good to know. Hmmmm who wants to start making a batch of real home made (now correctly spelled) Kulfi?

                                    1. re: StriperGuy

                                      If you cultivate me, who knows what might happen? I even have a dozen of the correct metal kulfi cones. True kulfi is not always to Western tastes, however. I've had "food people" over, including some of the top brass from places such as Formaggio Kitchen, and they did not always care for it. If you've had the milk jam at Sofra, then you can imagine kulfi -- it's a thinner (the milk reduction is stopped long before the jammy stage), frozen version.

                                      Formaggio Kitchen
                                      244 Huron Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                      1 Belmont St, Cambridge, MA 02138

                                      1. re: FoodDabbler

                                        I actually think I had this in NY once and loved it. Got it at some Indian grocery store. It looked a bit like this below, the one I had was cardamom flavored and only one color.


                                    2. re: FoodDabbler

                                      Thanks for the info - Will you volunteer to tell the frowny gal at Christina's that she don't know kulfi....? I don't dare.

                                      1. re: Bob Dobalina

                                        I have too much to lose by antagonizing anyone at Christina's. Fresh rose season is here.