Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Sweet Road Continues - More Ice Cream in New England

The family that eats ice cream together, stays together.  At least until the next scoop.  Our recent vacation road trip could've been dubbed the "Ice Cream Tour" for all that we ate.  We started in New York and moved up through the New England states.  Catch up on the New York and Boston flavors in this previous post (part 1 of the ice cream tour) and continue on to New Hampshire and Vermont here.

To remind you of the rules of our ice cream stops:
  • We’re looking for fresh, home-/hand-made ice cream at independent shops, or at least ones don’t seem to be big-name chains.
  • Scoops have to be less than $4, as close to or below $3, if possible.  I’ve noticed some places now charge $4, $5, even $6 a scoop!  For us, that’s $30+ for dessert.  So we did pass up shops that may have fit the independent shop rule, but were too pricey.  I’d like to not break a $20 if possible.
  • Good flavors, creative mixes.  Give me a scoop of coffee or chocolate ice cream and I’m pretty happy.  But I’ll definitely try one of those with some nuts or chocolate ripple mixed in.  The kids are cookie dough, birthday cake, mint connoisseurs.
  • Exceptions can be made to these rules, as needed. 

Annabelle’s - Portsmouth, NH
This was our one stop in New Hampshire as we passed through on our way from Boston to Portland, Maine.  And if you are ever just driving through, it's an easy 5-minutes or so off of I-95.  It’s located on a small alley street on the water.  The whole little area is a pleasant, walkable tour-book portside shopping area.  I got the Kahlua chocolate chip, which was really more like Kahlua & cream & chocolate chip. My son got the mint chocolate (his favorite flavor), but unlike most mint ice cream, it was not green, or even white with mint flavor, it was chocolate with mint flavor.  It was really good, like an Andes mint.  Price?  $3.65 for a single, which was actually 2 scoops; and there was a smaller, cheaper kid size.

Ben and Jerry’s, Waterbury, VT
Waterbury is up in the mountains of Vermont. A pretty, natural drive.  There was a decent sized crowd when we got there, which continued during our visit.  You have to get a ticket for the factory tour, which lasts a little less than 30 minutes. We had to wait about an hour for our time slot, but not standing in line; you get a ticket then can wander off until the assigned time.  We checked out the flavors at the Flavor Graveyard (all the flavors that have been retired), ate lunch at one of the food trucks parked on the grounds, and – what else – ate ice cream.  I got my one of my favorites, Coffee Coffee BuzzBuzzBuzz, and tried a new flavors, Hazed and Confused, a hazelnut and chocolate mix.

The factory tour consists of a short film about the history of Ben & Jerry’s, which was pretty interesting, and then an explanation of the ice cream making process from a viewing room above the manufacturing floor.  Since most of the process seems to be in huge heating and cooling vats, it’s actually not a whole lot to see until the ice cream is filled into the pint containers. The day we were there, there was some malfunction with a few lids so ice cream was spilling out across the conveyor belts which amused the kids.  The other highlight of the tour is the exclusive factory-only flavor sample served at the end.  Our day was Meet Me at the ChocoBanana flavor – a banana ice cream with chocolate and nuts.  It definitely needs to go through whatever approval process to get into a store near me.

Of the 12 days we were on vacation, I think we had ice cream at least 8 or 9 of those days (all of our scoops aren’t listed since some were end-of-dinner restaurant served scoops.)  We unfortunately got rained out in Maine and never made it to Gifford’s which is supposed to be really good. But I see that their truck is rolling around our home city every now and then, so maybe we’ll get a taste eventually.  But 9 out of 12’s not bad, right?

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