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ice cream stand?

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Now that it's truly summer outside, I've been craving ice cream more than ever.

Which ice cream shops - either in the city or the suburbs, or even farther - are worth seeking out? (Besides the obvious Toscanini's and Christina's.)

Bonus points if they're cute and old time-y or on a farm. I'm in Somerville, so nearby places are good, too.

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  1. Bedford Farms in Bedford.

    1. Rota Spring Farm in Sterling has great ice cream, a little farm stand and their own cows right outside. It's out there, but a nice ride off route 62 and 110.
      Quality, portion and price compare to Kimball Farms with more flavors and Rota will let you put 2 flavors on a small which is about 24 oz of ice cream.

      1. Hornstra Farm in Norwell. They make their own and you can visit the cows! The best chocolate milk (and at the holidays their egg nog is to die for!)

        http://norwell.wickedlocal.com/articl...

        Nonas in Hingham makes their own ice cream too. My favorite of theirs is the pumpkin they offer in the fall.

        1. Hands down, tiny Benson's in W. Boxford. Here is the schedule for their in-season local fruit ice creams: http://www.bensonsicecream.com/freshn...
          I suspect this is a general schedule that does not reflect this year's cold spring and have not looked at their Facebook page. Check there, or call, to confirm availability before making a trip especially for local fruit ice cream. The website menu section lists the many other nonfruit flavors they make.

          1 Reply
          1. re: greygarious

            Thumbs up. They make their own. Lots of places tout "homemade" ice cream (this was another thread) but it's "made" by another ice cream maker and just sold at their quaint stand. Fine, but misleading.

            Bensons makes a terrific ginger icecream, and as greygarious noted, lots of fresh in-season fruit flavors (peach, red raspberry, etc).

          2. Ice Cream Machine in Cumberland, RI and Flint Farm in Mansfield.

            Bedford Farms is good as well, and much closer..

            1. Pizzi Farms in Waltham....lucky me, a quick walk from my house!

              6 Replies
              1. re: Science Chick

                I've driven by a few times and it doesn't ever seem to be busy. I could just be going by at off hours or is this an undiscovered gem?

                1. re: Duster17

                  You are going by at off hours most likely. If you can get there without waiting, all the better! On summer evenings, the line stretches all across the parking lot! They have great soft serve, and their hard serve is sourced from Bliss Dairy in Attleboro.

                  1. re: Science Chick

                    Wow! I will definitely plan to stop in soon. Thanks for the info.

                    1. re: Duster17

                      Yeah great.....now the line will be even longer ;)

                      1. re: Science Chick

                        Lol! I will go off hours. Seriously I drove by one day around lunch time and there was one guy sitting at a picnic table and that was it.

                        1. re: Duster17

                          They are frequented during the day by folks getting sandwiches at the deli, inside.

              2. I love Bedford Farms, but usually go to the one in Concord so my three year old can see the trains go by. Its the Fitchburg line.
                Erikson's in Maynard the parking sucks and they havent paved the parking lot since 1935 it seems, and the product is a little inferior to Kimball's in Westford, Lancaster and Carlisle.
                I love the Carlisle location because it is no frills.
                Benson's is definitely awesome, but not in my neck of the woods anymore.

                1. Celebrity Pizza:
                  http://www.celebritypizzainc.com/reso...

                  on the Watertown/Cambridge line, Does a pretty good job with soft serve and fried foods,

                  Their pizza stinks, but Stella's is right up the street.

                  Though the talk the last time I was there was about raising the rates on the fried clams, at the time the large fried clams were 32.00 dollars, this was well before the red tide/summer rush.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: hyde

                    Have to differ on the ice cream: it's Hood vanilla + flavor packets. The chocolate tastes diluted and the non-vanilla flavors have a chemical taste to me. The creamsicle and javaberry are OK and a lot of people are big javaberry fans, but I find the sorbet to be icy. I love ice cream and Celebrity makes me grumpy. It's in my neighborhood and it appeals to the kids, but I get crappy ice cream for more money than I would spend at any of the really good ice cream places nearby like Rancatore's.

                  2. I like kimballs bonus is they have excellent fried seafood at Westford and Lancaster. I prefer Lancaster, less lines and attractions. (no arcade, golf, batting cage, etc)

                    Cherry Hill is also really good but seems to be more expensive for what you get.

                    1. Crescent Ridge in Sharon, great ice cream, generous servings.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: jjbourgeois

                        And the resident cows are usually hanging out in the back, which makes it extra fun for the kids.

                        1. re: jjbourgeois

                          Yes and hopefully the cows are out. If the lines are long outside, go inside. You are supposed to buy something like milk but they don't really care.

                        2. Down River, rte 133 on the Ipswich/Essex line. They have a patch of strawberries growing right next to the ice cream stand.

                          Also, they have a new location in Rowley, near the intersection of Rt 1 and 133.

                          Not in a country setting, but Meletharb in Wakefield is easy to find and excellent.

                          Besides rich, creamy ice cream, the final test for me is if they whip the cream for sundaes themselves. These places do.

                          6 Replies
                          1. re: gracenote

                            Meletharb is excellent. The ice cream is really creamy and delicious. The baklava ice cream is fun and surprisingly the pastry isn't really soggy. My husband got a delicious chocolate with peanut butter swirl a couple of weeks ago. I do wish that they would make their own hot fudge, though.

                            op, be aware that it is in a strip mall so there's no place to sit if it's crowded. That said, we are still happy to take a ride to Wakefield for a cone.

                            1. re: bear

                              Oh, and Meletharb is a very short drive to the lovely reservoir in Wakefield, which you can walk around and enjoy.

                              1. re: bear

                                Thanks for the reminder about the baklava ice cream! That stuff is just insanely good. And I'm usually not a fan of ice cream with chunks of any kind.

                                Actually I wonder how that would be in a milkshake? (Er--frappe!?) I think I might have to explore that option very soon.

                                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                  Ooh, please do report!

                                  1. re: bear

                                    I did it this afternoon. In short: Excellent flavor, as expected. A bit too sweet, maybe a bit too chunky. I'll give it 8/10, with simple room for improvement.

                                    The person manning the counter didn't hesitate for a moment when I asked for the frappe, so I assume it's a common enough option.

                                    She used one squirt each of two different kinds of syrup, but I was busy trying to control my two year old and I didn't get a chance to ask what they were. The frappe was delicious, but if I get it again I would ask for two half squirts, or maybe even just one half squirt of syrup -- the sweetness was a bit overwhelming.

                                    Chunk-wise, a lot of the baklava didn't break down, and settled to the bottom of the cup. This made it necessary to work with the straw a bit when drinking, which I didn't mind, but my child did not appreciate (although he was definitely a fan of the frappe, albeit less so than I was). The bonus came at the end, when we ate the remaining large milky chunks with a spoon.

                                    Definite repeat -- with less syrup, and maybe asking for a bit more thorough blender work.

                                    1. re: davis_sq_pro

                                      Well, thanks for taking one for the team. I never would have thought of a baklava ice cream frappe! I'm not surprised about the sweetness, since that's the only thing I find overwhelming about the ice cream itself. Of course, baklava is quite sweet on its own, so I'd love to see the base be a little less sweet.

                                      I'll look forward to trying one on my own, and thanks for the syrup warning. I'll definitely take heed.

                            2. Rons Ice Cream in Hyde Park and Dedham is really good. During Clinton's administration, the White House had it shipped there after the Clinton's tried it when campaigning. It's open year round in Hyde Park(and located in a bowling alley) but the Dedham store is closed in the Winter.

                              1. Wow - this is fantastic. I see a lot of ice cream trips in my future... probably starting with Walden Pond followed by ice cream at Bedford Farms. (That should have been my follow up question - other worthy things to do in the area)

                                12 Replies
                                1. re: nyc_to_ma

                                  Bedford farms is good. They use Richardsons ice cream

                                  1. re: hargau

                                    They have been making lots of their own ice cream. Just tried dolce de leche. Delicious! It's one of three golden ticket flavors. All proceeds from these 3 flavors go to local PMC kids ride.

                                    1. re: mamy001

                                      That must be new, last time i was there it was all Richardsons which is fine. I like Richardsons. Cabots in newton also serves Richardsons..

                                      Cherry Hill serves Bliss Ice Cream which has some great flavors. I believe this is what Rota Springs is selling too.

                                      I always make it a point to ask who made the ice cream..

                                    2. re: hargau

                                      No they use Richardson's base, but make almost all their own flavors, except a few small batches from Richardsons. I was chatting with Joe Venuti, the current owner, and he and his son make most of their ice cream.
                                      They've been doing mostly their own for about 5 years, I think

                                      1. re: justbeingpolite

                                        Cool, didnt know that.. But i wonder does taking someone elses vanilla ice cream and adding oreos and calling it cookies and cream or adding reeces and calling it peanut butter cup, really count as making your own ice cream? I know some are more complex than that.

                                        1. re: hargau

                                          I think it's more than just that. Even the vanilla is completely different. He uses the "base" powder from Richardson's, but uses his own types and amounts of cream, vanilla, eggs, etc, I assume. He does his own mixing, churning, etc.

                                          1. re: justbeingpolite

                                            hmm interesting, i didnt even know there was a "powder".. I always assumed that when places used a "base" they were getting vanilla, chocolate or coffee?maybe and then blend somehow and mix stuff into them.. If you think about it, every flavor starts with one of those more or less.. Vanilla+mint+chips or even vanilla+maple+walnuts..I dunno i am not ice cream maker but thats what i always assumed.

                                            1. re: hargau

                                              Next time I run into Joe V I'll try to get more detail, but I think the "base" is more basic than that.

                                              1. re: justbeingpolite

                                                Ice cream base is not even vanilla-flavored - it's most like the flavor that some places (used to?) have called sweet cream. There is no flavoring at all other than sugar.

                                                Here's an example: http://strausfamilycreamery.com/produ...

                                                1. re: Allstonian

                                                  That link was very helpful, both to explain what the base is and why ice cream stands would use someone else's rather than making their own. Thank you.

                                                  1. re: Allstonian

                                                    Thank You, Allstonian! I knew someone would be able to explain what ice cream base was. So apparently Richardson's sells their own base to Bedford Farms.

                                                    1. re: Allstonian

                                                      good info

                                      2. Volante Farms in Needham has an ice cream stand and plenty to look at: http://www.volantefarms.com/products/...

                                        1. Soc's Ice Cream on the Lynn Fells Parkway in Saugus makes their own ice cream (using Hood products...what does this mean?!) and cones I believe and I think it's quite good. It's a stand that's been there for almost 40 years but a big chain link fence cuts into any scenic quality (though it's not bad if you angle towards the wetlands and away from the parking lot).

                                          This Globe article talks about Soc's along with some other independent North Shore options options (Cravings in Wakefield has a nice hot fudge):

                                          http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/regi...

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: wandergirl

                                            Cravings basic ice cream is unexceptional, but the way they blend a gazillion possible add-ins is something out of the ordinary. A machine whirs your choices into soft-serve. Where else can you get a carrot cake soft serve cone?

                                            1. re: greygarious

                                              Just had Richardsons soft serve tonite, first time this season. It really is different from other soft serves which all seem like sugar,milk and a lot of air, whereas the Ridhardsons is dense, creamy and rich choc flavor. You can always play mini golf while you are there too. Or another place for Richardsons and entertainment is to go to Jordans Furniture in Reading and watch the great water show called Liquid Fireworks, water set to music and lights, and check out the jellybean d├ęcor and the Trapeeze School.
                                              I have never found RIchardsons soft serve anywhere else, not even at the other Richaresons at Jordans. Has anyone else?

                                            2. re: wandergirl

                                              I forgot about Socs. I haven't been for a while but remember really liking their ginger which had nice little pieces of ginger in it.

                                              1. re: catsmeow

                                                They had a lemon lavender flavor a few years ago that I loved, but it was a quirky combo and I'd guess not a big seller.

                                                1. re: Chris VR

                                                  Yum...that sounds good!

                                                  1. re: Chris VR

                                                    They are somewhat active on their Facebook page. It might be worth asking if they'd consider making it again.

                                              2. So, this is going to sound really terrible, and it's certainly not cute or old time-y, but the best (chocolate, have not tried vanilla) soft serve I have had is at... Costco.

                                                1. you must try the Ice Cream stand at Great Brook Farm in Carlisle. It is a dairy farm and while they do not make the ice cream there, they use their own milk/cream and send it off to Bliss Brothers to make the ice cream, it is yummy, lots of flavors, down homey, right on the farm. They also do barn tours a couple times a day, you can see the cows in their habitat along with other farm animals. It is part of the State Park system and as such, there is a pay parking lot with a vending machine BUT there is an option (if you scroll down) to get a free 30mins for ice cream.

                                                  1. i found this MA ice cream reviewing blog while Googling around for the name of the stand that I used to bike by up in Beverly Farms/Manchester.

                                                    1. Kimball's in Westford, MA.