Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Boo's Vanilla Ice Cream Making Adventure

Shop Name: Boo's Home

Location: Greenland Drive

Boo's Rating: 2 1/2 screams

In honor of National Ice Cream Month (July), I decided to try to make my own homemade ice cream. I did a little bit of research and discovered that nearly every ice cream recipe ends with the words, "Pour mixture into ice cream machine and follow manufacturer directions." Hmmmm... I don't have an ice cream machine, and I don't think I want to invest in one, so what to do? I looked into other methods and found they're all pretty much the same concept. The "ball" method, the coffee can method, the double-ziploc bag method, etc. I didn't really want to use any of those methods because they all involve ice mixed with rock salt around the ice cream mixture, but they all said it created a soft-serve consistency. I wanted real hand-dipped consistency. One website I found said that you can actually pour the ice cream mixture into a shallow dish or tupperware and stir it with a hand mixer or spatula every half hour to 45 minutes. Bingo! Now that I'd found the least expensive method (no machines or rock salt to track down and purchase), I set about finding a good recipe. I didn't find one that really worked for me, so I pretty much used one as a guide and then altered it a bit. After that, it was off to the freezer for my ice cream. Unfortunately, after only 3 hours of chilling my ice cream in the freezer, it was not yet at the right consistency and I had to go to work! NOOOOO!!! I think if I had spent a couple more hours babysitting it, the consistency would have been better. I'll have to try it again on a day where I have more free time. I think the flavor of my ice cream was spot-on. It's got a really strong vanilla flavor. The consistency, however, is not so fabulous. If I were to be served ice cream at a local shop that was the consistency of mine, then that shop would probably only get 2 1/2 screams at the most. I'd like to say that my fabulous flavor would be enough to boost the score up a bit, but I'd be lying. I'm a harsh critic and I can't get all soft just because of my ego. So.... 2 1/2 screams for me. Sad, I know. I'm currently letting my ice cream warm up and soften a bit and I'm going to try to whip it up some more with a hand mixer to try to get rid of some of the ice crystals. Even if I don't, it's still a respectable first attempt at making homemade ice cream and it's definitely edible. Not only is it edible, it's pretty delicious.

In case you care, here is the recipe I used to make my homemade ice cream:

4 c. half & half
2 c. heavy cream
15 egg yolks
1 1/4 c. sugar
1 vanilla bean

In a saucepan, combine cream with half & half. Score the vanilla bean, scrape out the seeds and add both seeds and pod to the cream mixture. Slowly heat to a simmer. DO NOT BOIL!!! While the cream mixture is heating, combine the egg yolks and the sugar in a mixer and combine. After heating the cream mixture, remove the vanilla bean, then temper the eggs by slowly adding about half the cream mixture. Pour the egg and cream mixture into the saucepan with the remaining cream and heat until the mixture thickens (about 170 degrees). Run your finger down the back of the spoon and if it leaves a clear path, the custard is ready. Cool the custard and then pour into a 9x13 baking dish, or similar sized plastic container. Every 30-45 minutes stir the custard with a hand mixer or spatula until it reaches the right consistency. Yum!!!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lapp Valley Farm

Shop Name: Lapp Valley Farm

Location: New Holland, PA

Boo's Rating: 3 1/2 Screams

It was quite a drive out to the Lapp Valley Farm, but it came highly recommended by several locals, so I had to get out there. It is definitely a farm- there are cows and everything. Unfortunately, it smells like a farm, too. The good news is that the farm smell stays outside and when you're in the ice cream shop, all you can smell is the delicious scent of homemade waffle cones. I'm starting to think I might have to start another blog about the homemade cones around here! Lapp's homemade cones are definitely different from the SCS&C's cones. They're lighter and the flavor isn't as strong, but they are totally delicious. Autumn made the comparison to the flavor and texture of a pizzelle, and I think she's right about that. Although, I think a pizzelle traditionally has an anise flavor and these cones did not. The texture was almost exactly the same, though.
Along with Autumn, Jeffrey and Vanessa (a.k.a. Beanie) also came along for the trip to Lapp's. You can see how friendly Beanie got with the cows in the picture above. Lapp's not only has cows, but also peacocks everywhere. Also, Beanie got really friendly with a bulldog that was wandering around. Lapp's is definitely an animal-lover's ice cream destination. They also sell milk, cheese and butter and you can even go to the drive-through to order those things! I bought a huge piece of farmer's cheese and I can't wait to snack on it!
Ok, now for the ice cream. I sampled the butter brickle flavor which was basically vanilla ice cream with toffee bits mixed in. It was good, but I didn't want to eat a whole cone full of it. I also sampled the coconut (at Beanie's recommendation) and it was also really delicious. It was chock full of coconut shavings. Delish. In the end, I opted for a homemade sugar cone with chocolate almond ice cream. It was actually really disappointing because after tasting the other two, I had high expectations for the chocolate. Unfortunatelly, the chocolate flavor was barely there at all. It was like eating sweet cream ice cream with a hint of chocolate mixed throughout. Not good. The quality of the ice cream is clearly very high- it's really smooth and creamy, but the chocolate flavor was SO disappointing! It's good for Lapp's that I sampled the other two flavors, or their rating might have dropped. Taking all things into consideration, I had to give them 3 1/2 screams, certainly a respectable rating.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Turkey Hill Ice Cream

Shop Name: Turkey Hill Ice Cream

Location: Central Market, Lancaster City

Boo's Rating: 3 1/2 Screams

I was pleasantly surprised to see a booth selling ice cream at the market today. How did I ever miss it? I guess I just don't usually visit the bakery stands at the market. My bad! My bags were full of fruits and veggies and some uber-yummy manchego cheese when I saw a sign that said "Sample cones: $0.50" Umm.... perfect!!! I asked for a sample of cookies & cream. The lady behind the counter pulled out the tiniest little cone you've ever seen! It was about 2 inches long! So cute! She scooped a bit of mint chocolate chip and I was like, "Oh, I wanted cookies & cream..." Oops! She was super sweet about her mistake, though and gave me both samples for the price of one. Can't let ice cream go to waste now, can we? Anyway, the ice cream was decent. It was pretty much your basic grocery-store variety. No complaints, but also nothing spectacular. However, I think their "sample cone" is a brilliant concept. I sometimes feel guilty if I ask to taste a lot of different flavors, but the fact that you pay a nominal amount for each sample makes them totally guilt free! Overall, Turkey Hill got 3 1/2 screams.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Strasburg Country Store & Creamery (SCS&C) PART TWO!

Shop Name: Strasburg Country Store & Creamery

Location: Main Street, Strasburg

Boo's Rating: 4 Screams

Yes, it's PART TWO for the SCS&C. I said in my first review of this place that it was good enough for me to go back, so I did. In my first review, I forgot to mention one of the best things about the SCS&C- the smell. I forgot how when you walk in, you're nearly knocked over by the amazing sweet smell of the place. I asked what it is and the lady at the counter told me it's their homemade sugar cones. There's a little room in the middle of the store with all these waffle-maker-looking things and they seriously make their own homemade sugar cones! I had to try one. I was so focused on the cake cone on the first trip, I didn't even consider getting a sugar cone. They should be advertising these sugar cones by shouting from the rooftops about them. They are delicious! And I am not usually a fan of sugar cones. They almost always leak and they're a lot harder to eat because they usually crack and then you risk ice cream spillage. Problem? I think so.

I ordered a kiddie sized scoop of oreo cookie ice cream on one of their homemade sugar cones. It was a fabulous scoop of ice cream and the cone was delicious. I also asked for a sample of their pumpkin ice cream. Kudos to the SCS&C for offering that flavor in a month other than September or October. AND it was great. I'm a sucker for anything pumpkin flavored- pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin ice cream, pumpkin whoopie pies, pumpkin chili, pumpkin soup- I love it all. Their pumpkin ice cream didn't disappoint. That combined with the fabulous oreo cookie/sugar cone combo upped their Boo Rating to 4 screams!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Gelato di Babbo

Shop Name: Gelato di Babbo

Location: Eastern Market on King Street

Boo's Rating: 4 Screams

This will be brief because all I have to say is: "Get your butt down to the Eastern Market on King Street and try this gelato!!!" It's all homemade with local ingredients and it's insanely delicious. Apparently it's also being sold by the pint in at least four local supermarkets. I sampled three flavors- coconut, dark chocolate and mulberry merlot and all three were delicious, but the mulberry merlot was FIERCE. I could eat that flavor all day. Gelato di Babbo, you're high in my ratings with 4 very loud screams.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Treats Creamery and Cafe

Shop Name: Treats Creamery and Cafe

Location: Market Street

Boo's Rating: 4 Screams

Treats Creamery is definitely a special place. First of all, it's located inside the Quilt and Textile Museum in downtown Lancaster. If you have not been to this museum, you really should go. The ladies there are so knowledgeable about not only the quilts, but the history of the building as well. They are SUPER sweet, too. The price of admission is a mere $6- a bargain, really. The museum also has a gift shop and of course, the creamery & cafe.

Today I sampled the pistachio ice cream on a cake cone. It was absolutely delicious. The ice cream was rich and creamy and full of WHOLE pistachios! Yum! I am forever looking for really delicious pistachio ice cream, and this was some of the best I've ever had. Seriously! The creamery also offers about a dozen flavors of ice cream, sundaes with lots of different toppings, shakes of all kinds, and light lunch options including soups, sandwiches, wraps and salads. I'll have to go back there sometime for lunch! Not on Tuesday, Friday or Saturday, though, because with it's location so close to the Central Market, it's hard to resist heading there as well! Overall, the creamery scored an impressive 4 screams. You can bet I'll be back there soon!

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Waterhouse Country Store- Gifford's Ice Cream

Shop Name: Waterhouse Country Store

Location: Windham, NH

Boo's Rating: 4 Screams

Waterhouse Country Store serves Gifford's Ice Cream, which is fairly common for many ice cream shops in NH. For a small "country store," there were MANY flavor options, too! I love the names of a lot of the flavors, including the one I tried- "Wicked Good Chocolate." You can't get more New England than that! And how was my ice cream? Wicked good, of course! It was rich and creamy, and the cake cone was fresh. Delicious! Overall, they earned 4 screams. It was wicked good, for sure.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Udderly Delicious

Shop Name: Udderly Delicious

Location: Lincoln, NH

Boo's Rating: 4 Screams

I know, I know- 4 screams? For real? Yes, for real. Udderly Delicious is not only utterly delicious, but the shop is a hoot! You can see the mayhem I created trying to get a candid photo of the employees with my cone (I particularly like the girl diving into the cash register to avoid being in the pic). As you know from my Oregon Dairy blog, I LOVE the cow hats on the ice cream shop employees. But that's just the beginning of the greatness at Udderly Delicious. It's a little tourist-y, but there were a bunch of locals there as well, so I won't brand them a "tourist trap." Having side-stepped that landmine, Udderly Delicious didn't cease to impress. For starters, they have LOTS of flavor choices. Among those choices? GRAPENUT. Raise your hand if you've ever had Grapenut ice cream? That's what I thought. Not too many of you, right? It's basically vanilla ice cream with Grapenuts cereal mixed in. You either like it or you don't. I remember summers at home as a kid, pouring Grapenuts cereal on top of my ice cream and then sitting in the living room, watching TV, hoping I'd get to stay up just a little later! Anyway, as for the ice cream, it's a surprisingly delicious combination. It's a rare find, even for NH ice cream shops so U.D. gets mad props for having it on the menu.

"What else makes them great?" you ask. Well, I'll tell you. They also have an ice cream sundae bar. Uh-huh. You read that right. An ice cream sundae bar. See?

Totally awesome, right? Well, guess what else is awesome? Made-to-order ice cream cookie sandwiches. Also, free chocolate sprinkles (jimmies) for kids! Check it out:

I'm no kid, obvi, so my sprinkles weren't free, but I ordered them anyway, on top of my chocolate ice cream on a cake cone. (Side note: U.D. called it a "cake" cone, too- more evidence that it's the correct term.) So, forget about all the extras like ice cream sundae bars and made-to-order ice cream cookie sandwiches because even without all that, the ice cream was delicious. Rich and creamy, it didn't disappoint. Good job, U.D. You get 4 very loud screams. Holla!!!

Here's one last picture of Kevin & Melanie, my friends who joined me for this tasty blog trip.

P.S. One more SUPER COOL thing: The U.D. had brownies for sale that were GIGANTIC!!! My only vacation regret is that I didn't try one.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Chelsey's Ice Cream

Shop Name: Chelsey's Ice Cream

Location: Campton, NH

Boo's Rating: 3 Screams

Chelsey's Ice Cream is located inside Chelsey's "A Wicked Cool Country Store." At first I thought Chelsey's would be a total tourist trap, but it was actually a fabulous store! It was full of really cute decorative items as well as NH souveniers and all kinds of stuff. (Even a jewelry-making station- perfect for the kids on a rainy day.) Inside Chelsey's Wicked Cool Country Store was Chelsey's Ice Cream. The saleslady on the store side convinced us to try it with her description of the "Belgian Chocolate Dip." Mmmmmm... delicious! Unfortunately, the only ice cream flavors available were chocolate and vanilla soft serve. They had lots of "Flurrie" options, which my friend Melanie tried. Bonus points for Chelseys- they let her combine TWO different Flurrie flavors- Butterfinger AND Snickers. Yum! Melanie's Flurrie was LOADED with mix-ins, which we know for busy ice cream is really important. I tried vanilla ice cream dipped in (are you ready) Dark Belgian Chocolate. Holy cow. It was the most delicious ice cream dip I've ever had. I don't know if it's just their dip recipe, but the coat of chocolate on the ice cream cone was SO thick! Most dips you can just lick right off. This dip required me to bite into it in order to get to the ice cream underneath!
Unfortunately, with only 2 flavor options, I can't really give Chelsey's the highest rating. What they had was good, but really it was all the exciting options you could ADD to your ice cream that made it good. The ice cream itself was pretty much your basic soft serve. So, 3 screams it is, Chelsey.

Raymond's Frozen Custard Ice Cream

Shop Name: Raymond's Frozen Custard Ice Cream

Location: Raymond, ME

Boo's Rating: 4 Screams

OK, this place had some seriously delicious ice cream, or rather- frozen custard. I asked what makes it custard and was told that it's the use of egg yolks that makes it custard and not ice cream. Hmmm... interesting. But let's be honest, the only thing I really care about is how delicious it is, not necessarily HOW it gets to be so delicious, right? Right.

I was with my family while sampling this place. I ordered chocolate (of course), my mom got white chocolate mocha and my stepfather Mike got gingersnap. More like gingercrap if you ask me! Just kidding. I have to admit, when he ordered that flavor, I was like, "WHAT?" Who orders GINGERSNAP ICE CREAM? I guess when there are flavors like chocolate or white chocolate mocha or strawberry, it's just the LAST flavor I'd think to try. To be fair, it tasted EXACTLY like gingersnaps, but without any crunch and I think that's why I didn't like it. I like the whole package with those snappy little cookies, but when you take away what in my opinion is an essential element, it's just not the same. But enough about that- I know you're wondering why I know so much about an ice cream flavor I didn't even order. I make it my responsibility to taste as many flavors as possible when reviewing an ice cream establishment and I must admit, I am shameless in that respect. I will ask the clerk at the counter for several "samples" before making my flavor decision. If friends and/or family join me at an ice cream shop, I make them give me a taste of what they ordered. You know- for research.

Ok, so enough about gingersnap. My mom's selection- white chocolate mocha- was AMAZING, as was my chocolate cone. The texture of the custard was OUT OF THIS WORLD!!! Most frozen custards I've seen are soft-serve, but this seemed to be hand-dipped. It was still pretty soft, compared to your basic hand-dipped ice cream, but still oh-so rich and delicious. The only problem I found with Raymond's was the fact that they only had 8 flavors to choose from. But even so, 4 screams is pretty stellar.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Blake's Old Fashioned Ice Cream

Shop Name: Blake's Old Fashioned Ice Cream

Location: Manchester, NH

Boo's Rating: 4 1/2 Screams

The picture really covers it all. Let's be honest, whoever decided to dip a cake cone in chocolate and then also dip into chocolate sprinkles is a genius! I haven't had New England ice cream in quite some time and my first cone back didn't disappoint. Blake's Old Fashioned Ice Cream was never one of the places I frequented when living in NH, but now I really regret that. I ordered the Triple Chocolate Ecstasy on the type of cake cone described above. It was so delicious and rich that I couldn't even eat enough ice cream to get down to the cone! I ended up getting a dish and scraping almost an entire scoop off just so that I could taste the delicious cone I'd ordered! The ice cream was so rich, so chock full of chocolate-y goodness, I was in complete ice cream heaven. Hence, the 4 1/2 screams rating.

As you all know, I've been on vacation in New England for the past 10 days and just returned last night. My next few posts will cover the 5 ice cream establishments I visited over that vacation. I really meant to visit more shops, especially the ones I remember being my favorites growing up, but we know what they say about the best laid plans, right? Anyway, it really got me thinking about different ice cream shops in different places. In the spirit of National Ice Cream Month, I'd like to hear from all of you about your favorite ice cream shop. Tell me what makes it great- the ice cream, the employees, the atmosphere- whatever it is that makes it your favorite. It doesn't have to be in the Lancaster, PA area- it can be anywhere. Wherever it is, I want to hear about it!

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Coming Soon....

I know that all four of you who read this blog are waiting with eager anticipation for my big "NATIONAL ICE CREAM MONTH" blog entries. However, I am currently away on vacation and am not blogging regularly. (I prefer sitting in the sun and shopping.) However, I have kept up my ice cream research while on vacay and will post those shops as well. Coming soon are:

Blake's Old Fashioned Ice Cream
Manchester, NH

Raymond's Frozen Custard Ice Cream
Raymond, ME

Chelsey's Ice Cream
Campton, NH

Udderly Delicious
Lincoln, NH

Gifford's Ice Cream (at the Waterhouse Country Store)
Windham, NH

I'll be back soon! In the meantime, please leave a comment telling me your favorite ice cream shop and location and I'll make sure to visit as many as I can!