The days of our
taking us out to Bates Farm in
Carlisle, Mass., was one of my greatest childhood memories. Watching
Monday night baseball on a small Hitachi black
battery-powered television in the back of a phony, wood-paneled Ford
LTD station wagon, taking brief glimpses of the wonderful countryside
in between pitches, and then eating black raspberry ice cream on the
car's tailgate with my brother, Marc, and an occasional neighborhood
buddy, was something we looked forward to at every opportunity. The
stars and sky seemed bigger than in our hometown of urbanized
Arlington, Mass. The pace was more leisurely than a Perry Como concert
and the flavors infinitely better than any of the 28 or 31 offerings at
Howard Johnson's and Baskin Robbins, respectively. Plus, what Howard
Johnson's or Baskin Robbins offered fresh air? All Howard Johnson's
could offer was the smell of coffee, which we weren't allowed to drink
at, say, seven-years-old. Baskin Robbins usually had an air conditioner
that sounded like an supersonic jet.
Bates Farm eventually became Kimball Farm, retaining its rural charm and great black raspberry ice cream (and so much more than that just that flavor). The main Kimball Farm located in Westford, Mass., however, didn't retain its quiet nature, expanding their ice cream stand with a miniature golf course, driving range, gift shop and an area for concerts (Gary "Dream Weaver" Wright once played here). The point is that even when an ice cream stand goes "Hollywood," you can't take the ice cream away. Just sample Kimball Farm's cherry vanilla or orange pineapple or just plain chocolate, and you'll realize that great ice cream rules over everything else.
Sometimes the rural charm worked against a good ice cream experience. For the longest time, the smell of cow dung overwhelmed the joys of eating ice cream at Richardson's in Middletown, Mass. The smell isn't there anymore -- we suspect that there is an Army of Sharper Image air purifiers behind the trees that took care of this problem. Whatever the case, the air is more fresh, which makes the ice cream taste fresher.
Most ice cream stands are seasonal. One of the saddest sites is watching an ice cream stand "board-up" around Columbus Day. "Boarding up" takes away our love of ice cream, and suggests that it's going to soon snow like crazy -- a truly dreadful combination. You don't want to wish away time, but you do waiting for March to come around. Immediately after Columbus Day, you start thinking wishfully that the local Stop and Shop supermarket will offer Bubbling Brook (Westwood, Mass.) or Bedford Farms ice cream (Bedford and Concord, Mass.) to help us get through the winter, but it usually ends up to be some turgid brand, with no resemblance to our favorite ice cream stand ice cream.
When the long hard winter ends, there's nothing quite like seeing those boards come off the walk-up windows. Sometimes the snow continues but customers, nevertheless, line up. It makes you wonder how good a business some of the ice cream stands would do if they stayed open all year.
If spring suggests life in the form of ice cream stands, Memorial Day weekend signifies, to many, the beginning of summer. For example, great recent warm weather memories of White Farms in Ipswich, Mass., tie in with how previous generations felt about this institution that has been delighting families since 1953. Located on a quiet part of Ipswich on scenic Route 133 on the North Shore in Massachusetts, White Farms has always been a family tradition, especially after a long day at the stunning Crane's Beach or a day by the water and shops in the toy-like village of Newburyport. White Farms remains a timeless New England classic ice cream stand in one of the more beautiful areas of the state -- but only during the warm weather. Theere's really nothing quite like eating homemade ice cream on a White Farms picnic bench under the stars. Dad listens to the Red Sox game on the nearby car radio. Mom loves the pastoral setting that calms the children. The children marvel at the animal farm. They all love the ice cream. It is as much about a New England summer as the beach, the Red Sox, Cape Cod, or New Hampshire's White Mountains.
It would really be an injustice to not experience a New England ice cream stand during the summer. Almost never the focal point of the day, it is more a perfect companion to the beach, the mountains, a Sunday drive, or as an alternative to staying in air conditioning during the hot summer months. In its own right, the New England ice cream stand many times stands on its own as a nice scenic place to be as many have their own farms, animal displays, or at the very least a peaceful atmosphere to enjoy the flavor of your day. New England boasts many great ice cream stands, but we have set up a basic list for you to pick from. Enjoy!
1. Crescent Ridge Dairy Bar -
Ridge Dairy Bar offers huge servings of the best ice cream we have
tasted, to date, in New England with 50-year-old family recipes handed
down through the generations (the dairy farm has been in business since
1932). National Geographic
twice named this modest, but always crowded little ice cream stand as
one of the best in the world in its The
10 Best of Everything: An Ultimate Guide for Travelers!
Top picks amongst the 40, or so choices: chocolate ripple, S'mores,
orange pineapple, peppermint stick, black raspberry and mint
chocolate chip. Crescent Ridge also boasts a wonderful atmosphere with
farm land and the magic of summer at a local New England ice cream
stand with fresh air, cows in the field, the
welcoming dairy bar lights on a starry night, and people leisurely
eating their ice cream at picnic tables. Crescent Ridge Dairy, 355 Bay
Rd., Sharon, Mass. Tel. (781) 784-2740. Open year-round. Read the full story on Crescent Ridge Dairy
S'mores ice cream from Crescent Ridge Dairy Bar.
Kimball Farm in Westford.
Black raspberry ice cream from Kimball Farm in Carlisle.
3. Four Seas Ice
Cream - Centerville,
strawberry ice cream: In
June, owners Doug and Peggy Warren source fresh local strawberries that
Four Seas Ice Cream includes in the strawberry ice cream (and with no
artificial flavors and colorings).
Four Seas Ice
4. Hayward's Homemade Ice
Strawberry cheesecake ice cream with a strawberry and graham cracker crunch swirl from Hayward's Ice Cream.
5. The Ice Cream Machine
The Ice Cream Machine, Cumberland, R.I.
Peaceful Meadows: A
long-time favorite and a household
name to locals,
Peaceful Meadows does a tremendous job with all the familiar flavors
such as chocolate, vanilla, peppermint, black raspberry, coffee,
chocolate chip, and mint chocolate chip. Established in 1920,
Peaceful Meadows lives up to its name as a quiet, tranquil ice cream
stand with its creamy homemade ice cream, picnic benches, large field
with cows, silo, and a dairy store. Not only does Peaceful Meadows make
its own ice cream, but also chocolate flavorings and chocolate
syrup! Peaceful Meadows is one of the more popular New England
ice cream stands, with long lines of people of all ages eagerly
awaiting the wonderfully tasty ice cream. It is perhaps the
quintessential New England ice cream stand, perfect on a hot summer day
-- and somehow remaining tranquilly isolllated from busy Route 18 despite
being so close to all the traffic. Peaceful Meadows also has locations
in Middleborough, Mass., and Plymouth, Mass. Peaceful Meadows, Rt. 18,
Whitman, Mass. Tel. (781) 447-3889. Open year-round. Read the full story on Peaceful Meadows
6. Peaceful Meadows -
percent butterfat equals very tasty ice cream. Yes, the fat
content might tip the diet scales in the wrong direction, but then
again, do you really want to pass on some of the best ice cream in New
England, including red raspberry chip, ginger, orange pineapple, Green
Monster (mint chocolate chip with Oeros and fudge) and
chunky chocolate pudding? Some consider Bedford Farms as the place to
go when nearby Kimball Farms in Carlisle is too busy, but proponents
say that the ice cream is every bit as good, if not better. Bedford
Farms, 18 North Rd. Bedford, Mass. Tel. (781) 275-6501.
Black raspberry ice cream with plastic cow in the background at Peaceful Meadows in Whitman.
7. Bedford Farms - Bedford, Mass.
Monster ice cream featuring
mint chocolate chip, Oreo
pieces and fudge, from Bedford Farms.
8. Bubbling Brook Restaurant
- Westwood, Mass.
Bubbling Brook ice cream stand and restaurant in Westwood.
9. White Farms Ice Cream - Ipswich, Mass.
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