Below is a transcript of a live online panel discussion on ice cream places, which took place on Thursday, June 28, 2012. As always, the panel included some panel members, with food writers and media people participating. The hour-long chat included talks with the panel about ice cream stands, ice cream parlors, and ice cream cafes in the Boston area as well as other sections of New England. And once again, the chat included some viewer participation. [Note: The original discussion can be replayed at the following link: http://www.hiddenboston.com/online-discussion-0612.html and please go to the restaurant discussions link to check out our other chats.]
Marc H. (hiddenboston): Hello, all! Welcome to yet another live online discussion, with this one being on ice cream stands, ice cream parlors, ice cream cafes, and, well, all things ice cream, basically. Today we have a panel of several people who you may know, including media folks and food writers. Before we start, how about some introductions? I'm Marc, the founder and owner of Boston's Hidden Restaurants as well as the news-based blog Boston Restaurant Talk. http://www.bostonrestaurants.blogspot.com
Brian- A Thought For Food: Hey everyone! I'm Brian from A Thought For Food http://www.athoughtforfood.net
MC Slim JB: MC Slim JB here. I review budget restaurants for the Boston Phoenix and fine-dining ones for Stuff Magazine. I'm on Twitter @mcslimjb, and my blog is here: http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/
JustinCanCook: Hi, I'm Justin. You can follow my food exploits through twitter @JustinCanCook.
Gary/PigTrip: Good morning! I'm Gary from http://www.pigtrip.net, a directory and review site for barbecue joints throughout New England and eastern New York.
Marc H.: Hey, all! Had anything good to eat lately?
BostonMoxley: My name is Michael Moxley. I own the salty pig, coda and canary square. twitter: @bostonmoxley
Marc H.: Wow, full house today, and possibly a few more to come!
Michelle Collins: Hello all! I'm Michelle, and I blog over at www.theeconomicaleater.com. Happy to be here!
Marc H.: Hi, Michelle!
Alexandra Hall: Hi all! I'm Alexandra Hall I cover food for coupboston.com, among other magazines.
Marc H.: Hello, Alexandra!
BostonMoxley: black raspberry ice cream. i am addicted to it....i search high and low for the best one...any suggestions?
Marc H.: We'll definitely get to some places that have good versions of it. My personal fave is from Kimball's in Carlisle.
Marc H.: So as I mentioned earlier, today's chat is about people's favorite places to go for ice cream, which turns out to be a timely discussion, as a heat wave is apparently going to begin tomorrow. What we'll do is start in the immediate Boston area, working our way out through Massachusetts and elsewhere in New England.
Marc H.: A note to our viewers: You are definitely part of this the discussion, so feel free to ask any questions or mention some of your favorite ice cream places, but for the most part, I will be talking first with the panel on each topic, then we'll open up the discussion to you.
Brian- A Thought For Food: BostonMoxley, Four Seas on the Cape has it... and it's pretty phenomenal (as is all their ice cream) http://fourseasicecream.com/flavors.php
Marc H.: Four Seas also has great cantaloupe ice cream.
BostonMoxley: @brian....had that one. stellar suggestion.
Laura- 2Palaver: Greetings. Laura is here. One-half of The Two Palaverers.
Marc H.: Hi, Laura! Welcome to the chat!
MC Slim JB: I imagine the usual suspects of high-end, high-butterfat ice cream will come up, so I'll kick off with my favorite of that bunch, Christina's in Inman Square. My usual is a "frozen Whopper" (the malted milk ball, not the fast-food excresence): malted vanilla plus one of their deep chocolate flavors.
Marc H.: MC, you beat me to the first topic...we're going to start in the immediate Boston area and work our way out, so let's start with ice cream places in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline. Any faves?
Michelle Collins: I also love Christina's, but Toscanini's in Central Square is pretty amazing, too.
Marc H.: Michelle, we went to Toscanini's last night. Their orange-chocolate ice cream was amazing.
Michelle Collins: Oooo, I haven't tried that one! Yet...
Laura- 2Palaver: Christina's is one of our favorites, too.
Michelle Collins: I'm also a big fan of the frozen custard at The Chilly Cow in Arlington.
Gary/PigTrip: Count me as a fan of Christina's in Inman Square over Toscanini's (also good). The combination of unsual flavors, strong flavors and creaminess is hard to beat. I like the burnt sugar.
Brian- A Thought For Food: I have to go with Christina's too... it helps that they have access to fun spices. It makes for some fun flavor combos
MC Slim JB: Another favorite of mine, and too often overlooked in most ice cream discussions, is soft-serve, which must start with a nod to Louie's in Somerville.
Marc H.: I'll mention a few of my personal favorites, and MC beat me to it once again. :-D Louie's in Somerville, The Ice Creamsmith in Dorchester, and I do like J.P. Licks as well, especially the one in JP, which has an outdoor area.
Alexandra Hall: I have a habit of stockpiling Toscanini's burnt caramel in my freezer, for dinner parties where I need an amazing dessert but don't have time to make it.
Marc H.: I tried a sample of the burnt caramel last night, and it was pretty intense!
Brian- A Thought For Food: Gary... I completely agree... I think their flavors are much stronger... reminds me of Bi-Rite in San Fran
Marc H.: I need to remember that place in SF, Brian, as I may be heading out there this fall...
MC Slim JB: I also think Picco in the South End has a terrific one-two combo: one of the best wood-oven pizzas in Greater Boston, and terrific ice cream with a slightly soft texture, almost gelato-like.
Michelle Collins: J.P. Lick's is definitely a good one. I have never heard of Louie's...despite the fact that I live in Somerville. I'll have to check it out!
Marc H.: Louie's has terrific grape nut ice cream.
JustinCanCook: I recently tried the Khulfee flavor at Toscanini's and really enjoyed it. It's an Indian flavor heavy on cardamom and pistachio.
Marc H.: Ahh, that was another one we tried last night. The cardamom worked nicely with the ice cream.
JustinCanCook: I'm a big fan of the strawberry ice cream at Picco. It's a shame they don't make it more often.
MC Slim JB: I'm a frozen custard lover, too, very glad to see it making a small comeback. In town, the only option I know of is Flat Patties in Harvard Square (a fine little quick-service burger, too).
BostonMoxley: my next question...(then i will shut up) is regarding gluten. my daughter grace has celiac disease (inability to process gluten) and we search for GF ice cream cones and toppings. nobody seems to really cater to this as of yet. can someone help me maintain "amazing dad" status and suggest a shop which has a wide selection of GF options?
BostonMoxley: mc slim .... christina's is great.
Marc H.: Gluten-free ice cream....isn't there a new place in Allston that has it? Or is it vegan ice cream? FoMu, I believe?
MC Slim JB: I think actual kulfi deserves its own mention. Good versions at Punjab Palace in Allston, Ghazal in JP, and Rani in Brookline.
Brian- A Thought For Food: Picco is a great one too! Yes, their strawberry is fantastic
JustinCanCook: Oh... we should probably mention the Concretes at JM Curley. If you can't find a flavor combination there that you like, you're doing it wrong.
Laura- 2Palaver: Picco's does a nice job.
Marc H.: Picco has great pizza, great ice cream, and a nice outdoor patio. Tough to beat all that.
kelly alice: hi everone, KA from JP here and BIG fan of ice cream. :)
Marc H.: Hi, kelly!
kelly alice: The cinnamon ice cream at Picco's is one of my all time favs!
Alexandra Hall: Totally agreed on the khulfi, MC. Cristina's is my go-to, but I'll always go for it wherever I see it.
MC Slim JB: Christina's also sells these superb high-quality fruit purees by Boiron. I'd think about making my own sorbet with that product for someone with a gluten aversion. (I made killer frozen Bellinis with the white peach flavor.)
DaveMP: Abbott's (with a location in Brighton) has frozen custard. I sadly never got to try it
Marc H.: Is there an Abbott's in Needham as well?
DaveMP: Yes, there's one in Needham too
Brian- A Thought For Food: Yes! there is an Abbott's
Michelle Collins: I totally forgot to mention Lizzy's in Harvard Square. Not mind-blowing, but still enjoyable on a hot day!
Marc H.: I don't think I've been there. Maybe next week if the heatwave continues.
MC Slim JB: Abbot's frozen custard is awesome. They have a shop in Brighton, too. Kohr Brothers in Braintree and Rita's in Salem are two other worthy destinations.
Marc H.: Kohr Brothers? Never heard of it. I assume it's at the SSP?
MC Slim JB: Kohr is indeed at South Shore Plaza.
Alexandra Hall: What about the wackier flavors? JP Licks gets kind of insane sometimes with their specialty experiments....
Marc H.: They sure do. I'm more of a purist, so I tend to go with simpler flavors when I'm there.
Brian- A Thought For Food: Now, it's not a shop, but Batch... what's everyone's take? I am pretty fond of the salted caramel. I like the ginger, but I prefer the ginger at Four Seas better.
Marc H.: I heard Batch was going to be on the Greenway today, by the way.
Brian- A Thought For Food: Batch will be there for the Local Food Fest launch
Gary/PigTrip: LOVE ginger, good to note!
DaveMP: I think JP Licks actually does better with wacky flavors than with simpler ones. I didn't like the JP Licks black raspberry ice cream at all....no brightness or strong raspberry flavor.
Michelle Collins: Batch's Salted Caramel is incredible.
DaveMP: My favorite at JP Licks is the coffee oreo.
Marc H.: So before we leave Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Brookline, do any of our viewers have any favorites in those cities?
Alexandra Hall: Sometimes curiosity gets the better of me there, but then I wind up eating something like Tabasco ice cream and after a few licks, just wind up wishing I had a bowl of really, really good vanilla.
Marc H.: Ha ha. Tabasco doesn't sound very good.
MC Slim JB: Odd flavor I thought was a bad idea but had to try and enjoyed: Guinness ice cream at Tosci's.
Marc H.: I almost got that last night, but went with the orange/chocolate instead.
Brian- A Thought For Food: HAHAHA! I know the feeling, Alexandra! Though, I might pair that with chocolate and it could be fun :-)
DaveMP: On the topic of Toscanini's: my favorite flavor there is the Earl Gray
Alexandra Hall: I just want to give a shout out to one in Cambridge that isn't thought of for ice cream: anything served at Oleana is usually amazing.
Michelle Collins: Guinness & ice cream sounds like a lovely combination!
Gary/PigTrip: Bacon ice cream has jumped the shark, but leave it to Burger King of all places to realize that it's better as a topping than as a mixed in ingredient.
Marc H.: Yup, BK is on the cutting edge (I guess).
BostonMoxley: ron's ice cream in hyde park and dedham.
Alexandra Hall: Guinness and just about anything is usually fine by me ;)
MC Slim JB: I was skeptical of Guinness and Champagne, too, a the Black Velvet is actually a refreshing and delicious drink.
DaveMP: I liked the banana ice cream at Ron's. It's the place with the bowling alley
Marc H.: How about ice cream places inside Route 495, not including Boston, Somerville, Cambridge, and Brookline? I'll start with two of my faves, which are near each other--Bedford Farms in Bedford and Kimball's in Carlisle.
Laura- 2Palaver: Meletharb in Wakefield has some interesting flavor combos.
Marc H.: Is that in the center of town? I think I've been there.
Alexandra Hall: Farfar's Danish ice cream in Duxbury has some of the best black raspberry I've come across. But then again, almost all of their flavors are killer.
Michelle Collins: Cravings in Wakefield is adorable, and has delicious ice cream - lots of options, too!
Laura- 2Palaver: Kimball's is good.
Gary/PigTrip: I like that the Kimball's on Route 110 is so much more than just ice cream. It's a getaway for the family too.
Marc H.: Definitely. I tend to go to the Carlisle one, though, mainly for the beautiful ride, and also because it's so peaceful there.
MC Slim JB: More soft-serve favorites: Celebrity Pizza in Watertown, Dairy Barn in Randolph, Spadfora's in Malden, Dairy Freeze in Quincy (Inuit-girl logo!), Kell's Kreme on Revere Beach (just the thing after hitting Kelly's).
Marc H.: Dairy Barn in Randolph is one of my go-to spots. Excellent soft-serve, and really cool music there.
Marc H.: I also like the Kell's in Swampscott, which also has hot dogs available.
Gary/PigTrip: As a ginger guy, I gotta give a shout out to Gary's Ice Cream in Chelmsford (no, that's not me). Very good ginger and some creativity in some of the other flavors, such as Fig Newton.
Marc H.: I love ginger ice cream. The version at Erikson's in Maynard is very good.
Laura- 2Palaver: I think we've been to Gary's.
MC Slim JB: And while the prices are ridiculous, Dairy Joy in Weston is a great spot in a town that is a restaurant desert. Richardson's in Dracut (just beyond 495) has great soft-serve (as well as hard ice cream), and their Yuletide egg nog might be the best version I've ever had from a dairy.
Marc H.: I spent $20 at Dairy Joy for a burger, fries, and ice cream last year. It was *almost* worth it.
Brian- A Thought For Food: I'm a huge ginger fan... will have to try Gary's!
Michelle Collins: Sorry guys, I have to head out a bit early. But this has been fun! I work in Wakefield, so Cravings could be in my near future...this discussion has me craving ice cream. ;)
Marc H.: Have a great day, Michelle! Thanks for joining us!
Michelle Collins: Of course, thanks for having me!
MC Slim JB: Did I mention Bubbling Brook in Westwood? Another soft-serve spot. I have such nostalgia for that stuff.
Marc H.: I used to go there a lot--haven't been there this year yet. BB is a nice spot.
Marc H.: So before we move on (and a bit further out), do any of our viewers have any faves within Route 495?
Guest: Great places on the south shore: Nonas in Hingham, JJs in cohasset
Guest: JJs cohasset- twist with a krunch coat
Marc H.: Mmmmmm.....krunch coat....I used to get those at some ice cream stand in Woburn. Can't remember the name...
Cindy: Daddy's dairy in Stoughton
Brian- A Thought For Food: That does sound good!
Gary/PigTrip: Was the one in Woburn Charlie's?
Marc H.: Not sure....it was about a block from the hospital near where Bill and Bob's is. It might still be there for all I know.
Alexandra Hall: Gary, does that Fig Newton have actual newton chunks in it, or is it made of fig newton flavors?
Traci: In Stoughton Daddy's Dairy! And they are on channel 7 tonight!!!
MC Slim JB: Ahem, that's Mr. Charlie.
Joe: I can't have ice cream so I get lactose free at Daddy's Dairy in Stoughton. I live in Randolph, but the Randolph store doesn't have lactose. :(
BostonMoxley: gotta go... good talk !
Marc H.: Thanks for joining us, Michael!
BostonMoxley: def getting ice cream today!
Marc H.: Me too.
BostonMoxley: ill see you at Ron's!
Marc H.: How about looking at ice cream places elsewhere in MA, including Cape Cod and the Berkshires? One place I really like is Kate's Seafood in Brewster.
Marc H.: I also like Cindy's Drive-In out in Granby (near Springfield). Talk about a classic spot--here's a picture of the place. http://www.hiddenboston.com/randomphotos/cindys-ice-cream.html
Brian- A Thought For Food: Four Seas in Centerville is fantastic for classic flavors
Brian- A Thought For Food: Their ginger is a favorite
Brian- A Thought For Food: As is the Peanut Butter Chip.
Brian- A Thought For Food: And Mocha Chip... ok, I go there frequently
Guest: Buffy's in Chatham is pretty good., but a bit expensive.
Laura- 2Palaver: I think we've been to Gary's.
MC Slim JB: Captain Frosty's in Dennis on the Cape. Great fried clams, and, yet again, soft-serve!
Marc H.: Captain Frosty's is an excellent option, Route 6A has many good ice cream spots.
Brian- A Thought For Food: Captain Frosty's! Good one!
Brian- A Thought For Food: Cape Cod Creamery is great too
Guest: Buffy's in Chatham is Sundae school in harwich
Marc H.: Now you got me thinking about Four Seas.....wow, that's a good place.
Brian- A Thought For Food: Plus, you can get a lobster salad sandwich there, cape cod chips, and then get yourself a shake. Heaven!
Alexandra Hall: The Sundae Bar, for those crazy about tons of toppings.
DaveMP: Flayvor's of Cook Farms in Hadley, MA is great, with lots of seasonal flavors. Currently they have asparagus ice cream
Marc H.: Asparagus ice cream? I think I saw that on Iron Chef America a few nights ago!
DaveMP: I grew up in Western MA, so I have a lot of favorites in the Pioneer Valley. Herrell's in Northampton is my all-time favorite, particularly for banana ice cream. Best I've had anywhere.
Marc H.: If I can ever find parking in Northampton, I'll have to try that place. :-b
DaveMP: For soft-serve, my favorite is Smiarowski's Farm Stand in Sunderland, MA
MC Slim JB: Asparagus ice cream? So crazy it might just work!
Alexandra Hall: Did you try the asparagus ice cream? Was it good, or horrid?
MC Slim JB: Skip's Drive-In in Merrimac, MA. Good burgers, and the coolest sign.
Marc H.: Another one I love, MC.
DaveMP: I haven't tried the asparagus ice cream there, but my dad texted me a photo of it the other day! They also make great raspberry ice cream...I forget who was searching for great raspberry and black raspberry.
Marc H.: I think Michael was looking for that, but he had to leave. Hopefully he'll read the res of this later.
MC Slim JB: Hopefully Moxley will come back and read the transcript.
Marc H.: Oops, great minds think alike. (Not that mine is so great, as I just misspelled "rest.")
Gary/PigTrip: I once had black peppercorn ice cream. At Hammersley's, IIRC.
Marc H.: How was it? I bet it was pretty good!
MC Slim JB: Carvel is back, with an outlet in Shrewsbury. A chain, but really high-quality softserve, and I do have a soft spot for Fudgey the Whale cakes.
DaveMP: I think Herrell's makes the best ice cream in New England, that I've tried anyway. Better than Toscanini's. If you can't find parking close by, just park a mile or two away and then walk. It's worth it.
Marc H.: Didn't someone recently rank Toscanini's as the 2nd best ice cream place in America? I can't remember where I saw that, unfortunately.
Gary/PigTrip: It worked! Didn't hold back on the pepper either.
Laura- 2Palaver: We had lobster ice cream in Maine last summer.
Marc H.: Oooh, I've had that in Bar Harbor, Laura. I think it was the place that President Obama went to (again, the name escapes me).
MC Slim JB: I thought of Carvel when Adam Yauch passed this year.
Marc H.: Yes, many of us did....
Brian- A Thought For Food: I've had lobster ice cream as well. It kind of works :-)
Laura- 2Palaver: The one we had was from a place next to Red's Eats in Wiscasset.
Marc H.: All right readers, we're moving on once again--any favorites outside of Route 495 in Massachusetts?
DaveMP: It was Herrell's that was ranked the 2nd best ice cream in America.
Marc H.: Oh wait--maybe it was both! I just found this: http://bostinno.com/2012/06/27/americas-best-ice-cream-is-apparently-right-here-in-cambridge/
Alexandra Hall: Herrell's is tremendous. Has anyone mentioned Rancatore's yet? I haven't been there in ages, but if I lived in Belmont, I'd be there every day.
DaveMP: though this was in the late 90s I think.
MC Slim JB: Sorta off-topic, but I'd love to know if anyone in New England makes panera genovese, an Italian semifreddo-like dessert with a coffee flavor, kinda like frozen cappuccino.
Marc H.: Hmmmm, this could be a question for the Chowhound folks....
Laura- 2Palaver: Not sure, MC Slim JB.
Marc H.: Time to move on once again. How about favorite ice cream places elsewhere in New England? Any in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Rhode Island, Connecticut?
Marc H.: In RI, I love Gray's in Tiverton Four Corners. Bucolic location, great ice cream, nice people.
Alexandra Hall: I've never run into panera genovese here, but if I had, there certainly wouldn't be any left for others to sample.
Laura- 2Palaver: Probably can find some at one of the restaurants.
MC Slim JB: I also want to mourn the passing of ice milk, which in my youth made the Friendly's Fribble and the Newport Creamery Awful Awful so thick they were tough to drink through a straw.
Gary/PigTrip: I second Gray's.
Laura- 2Palaver: Gray's in Tiverton is good.
Gary/PigTrip: Shaw's Ridge Farm in Sanford Maine is part of a compound that includes mini golf and a barbecue stand. The barbecue is pretty good but the ice cream is superb. Strong flavors, creamy textures. Love the coffee, strawberry, and of course ginger.
MC Slim JB: A couple of places I like in the NH Lakes Region: Shibley's in Alton Bay (you can play mini-golf next door, too, always a plus), and Liliuokalani's in Weir's Beach, actually pretty swanky considering all the surrounding honky-tonk.
MC Slim JB: Did I mention Shibley's does soft-serve?
Alexandra Hall: Another vote for Gray's here. The mint chocolate chip's like a field of wild mint.
Marc H.: The White Cottage Snack Bar in Woodstock, VT, is another good place for ice cream, and its riverside location is tough to beat.
Marc H.: Oh, and the Scoop Deck in Wells, ME. Lots of flavors.
Laura- 2Palaver: Lake Champlain Chocolates in VT has some good ice cream, but limited flavors. Kitchen Table Bistro in Richmond, VT makes some delicious ice creams, too. And there's a new one we haven't tried yet in Bristol, VT called Lulu's that sounds intriguing.
MC Slim JB: Morano Gelato in Hanover, NH. Excellent gelato in one of the prettier college towns in New England, especially in the fall.
Brian- A Thought For Food: I feel like i need to take a little road trip to try all of these out!
Gary/PigTrip: We need an all ice cream blog.
Marc H.: Now those are two great ideas! Maybe do a group road trip, then start a blog? :-)
MC Slim JB: I ate Peking duck four times in the last six weeks: the last thing I need to do is blog about ice cream.
Marc H.: Four times? Which one was the best, or can't you tell us just yet?
Laura- 2Palaver: Life is tough. :)
Laura- 2Palaver: Gorgeous Gelato in Portland, ME is supposed to be very good, too.
MC Slim JB: Maybe a blog about running on a treadmill with an ice cream dangling in front of me.
DaveMP: An ice cream blog sounds awesome. New England really is lucky. Out here in California, everyone thinks Bi-Rite is the be-all, end-all of ice cream. I think at least a dozen places listed here today are better than Bi-Rite.
Guest: The Uconn storrs campus has a dairy bar with home made ice cream that is really good!!
MC Slim JB: All four were at China King, which I reviewed for the Phoenix a couple of weeks ago. Globe reviewed it this week, too.
Marc H.: Ha ha, we were talking about your love for China King last night. I can't wait to get there.
Marc H.: By the way, here are some picks from readers on favorite ice cream stands in New England...some of these places we've mentioned here. http://www.hiddenboston.com/questions/ice-cream-new-england.php
Laura- 2Palaver: You skipped over the Northshore. Quite a few tasty ice cream places there.
Marc H.: Definitely, I mentioned Kell's in Swampscott earlier, and Richardson's in Middleton is great. Oh, and is it Captain Dusty's in Beverly Farms?
MC Slim JB: Somerset Creamery in Somerset, MA? I should know that one, and don't.
MC Slim JB: I'll bet Jerry Remy knows that one.
Laura- 2Palaver: Benson's in West Boxford makes a delicious red raspberry. White Farms in Ipswich is great, too.
MC Slim JB: Nobody ever talks about Frosty, the Boston Common soft-serve truck with the Make Way for Ducklings graphic on the back.
Marc H.: OK, we have two minutes left. If you could go anywhere in New England for an ice cream today, where would it be, and what flavor?
Marc H.: I'll choose a black raspberry at Kimball's in Carlisle.
Laura- 2Palaver: Benson's for their red raspberry.
MC Slim JB: Captain Frosty's: fried clams first, vanilla/chocolate soft-serve twist afterward.
Alexandra Hall: Dairy Queen. Sorry, but true. Soft serve chocolate dipped in cherry coating. Disgusting, but awesome.
DaveMP: Banana ice cream with hot fudge at Herrell's in Northampton!
Guest: JP licks coffee oreo
Dana: Ranc's in Belmont - Wasabi ice cream.
MC Slim JB: No shame in liking DQ!
JustinCanCook: Anywhere in Maine for a scoop of blueberry.
Dana: @bostonmoxley - A new place just opened on Cambridge St in Allston called Fomu (a play on words of Faux Moo) that should work for you..
Marc H.: All right, folks, it's time to go. This was great--many ice cream places to look into now, thanks to you.
Laura- 2Palaver: Thank you!
DaveMP: Thanks very much! This was fun!
Alexandra Hall: Thanks to everyone!
MC Slim JB: Thanks again, Marc. Great fun as always!
JustinCanCook: Thanks! Definitely stopping by Picco tonight...
Brian- A Thought For Food: Thanks Marc! That was fun!