An Epic Ice Cream Adventure Through Tampa, FL – Part 2

It’s hard to imagine a day better spent than one visiting three different homemade ice cream places, eating booza (an Arabic style of ice cream), Thai-style hand-rolled ice cream and a spicy goat cheese based ice cream in Tampa, amongst many others. Here’s part two of my thrilling ice cream adventure in the Tampa, Florida area. (Missed part 1? You can find it here.)

After enjoying booza bakdash and rolled ice cream for the first time, we headed to our next destination.

Inside view of Dough, Tampa, FL | In Search of a Scoop

View of part of the interior of Dough, Tampa, FL

#2 Dough, Tampa, FL

Dough came recommended to us by an acquaintance (a local), and their website definitely had me intrigued. I was a little bit nervous to visit though, because they are mostly a bakery and coffee shop, and as a gluten-sensitive person, I knew it would be sad to skip over all of the pastries.

But the nice part of ice cream touring with my husband, Ross (besides the chauffeur part) is that he can enjoy the things I can’t.

Maple bacon donut, Dough, Tampa, FL | In Search of a Scoop

Maple bacon donut – oh my!

So Ross ordered a coffee and a maple bacon doughnut. I can attest that the maple topping and the bacon are delicious. The bacon is really smoky, and Ross said they’re on a thick, doughy base that is very well made and tasty even at day’s end. It has a filling inside like a Boston cream doughnut!

For ice cream, I tasted a few flavors. They have a fairly small selection, but they make them all in house.

Mint Chip – Surprisingly, this was pretty medicinal to me. It’s not your average mint, and though on first bite, I thought I might like that, the aftertaste made me realize it’s not something I’d gravitate towards. It’s a super smooth texture though.

IMG_0328Galaxy – Galaxy is vanilla with activated charcoal and sprinkles. That makes it a very pretty scoop. However, I know that activated charcoal isn’t just good for turning your mouth black…it’s also good for cleaning your system out, including any medications etc….so I stuck to just one bite, which was quite tasty and very smooth and fun.

Peanut Butter Cup – This one was my choice. It’s super smooth, with a vanilla base that’s pleasant. The peanut butter cup is finely cut and it’s very nice. The ice cream is well whipped, so it’s light and almost fluffy. The peanut butter cup itself was very salty. I ordered a kiddie, which felt like a very good deal at $2.55 plus tax.

This place is a super adorable coffee house. It’s cozy, quirky and feels really upscale as a place for coffee or a treat. I wasn’t wowed by the flavors of ice cream here, but everything they had was well done – and as I mentioned, ice cream really isn’t the focus of what they do here. There is a doughnut cone available which would be fun. The ice cream is lighter and fluffier than my most favorite ice creams, but the smooth and creamy quality is great and the distribution of candy is pretty perfect.

One bummer? The website mentioned that toppings are free – but when I was ordering, they never mentioned that to me, and I forgot about it. So maybe ask about it when you visit. 🙂

If you’re looking for other Florida ice cream reviews, you might enjoy my recommendations in GainesvilleAmple Hills at the Boardwalk at Walt Disney World (no park ticket required), Kelly’s in Orlando and a write up of all my Disney ice cream adventures including my favorite place for mint chocolate chip,  L’Artisan des Glaces in Epcot. (Fuller article on the latter to come!)

p.s. Thanks for supporting my blog by doing your usual online shopping via my Amazon affiliate link!

An Epic Ice Cream Adventure Through Tampa, FL

It’s hard to imagine a day better spent than one visiting three different homemade ice cream places, eating booza (an Arabic style of ice cream), Thai-style hand-rolled ice cream and a spicy goat cheese based ice cream in Tampa, amongst many others. It’s time for a thrilling ice cream adventure in the Tampa, Florida area.

First off, my apologies for not blogging last week. I spent a week back in New Hampshire, and although it was great to be back (and to enjoy some Arnie’s ice cream in Concord), it definitely messed up my blogging game.

On to the epic ice cream recount.

My brother, Robbie, and his girlfriend Ria came up with the perfect Christmas present for me – an ice cream adventure! But when Robbie started researching the best places to get ice cream in Florida, he realized he really had no clue what he was doing. Who, he wondered, would know where to get the best ice cream in Florida?

Let the adventure begin! | Ross and Jamie Adventure

Let the adventure begin!

That’s when he realized it was me. So he just gave me some money and said go have an adventure! With a $45 budget and most of an afternoon and evening to explore, I set my sights on Tampa, Florida, which was a city we hadn’t ventured to yet (although I had a bit as a child) and which seemed to make all of the “best of” lists for ice cream.

With a goal of visiting at least three ice cream places in a day, I knew we’d want to keep the portions small and keep the destinations in relative proximity to one another. When I started researching ice cream in Tampa, I realized I had about a dozen great options to choose from! Hand-rolled ice cream is definitely popular, but you can find traditional American-style ice cream, soft serve yogurt and all sorts of other options in the Tampa area.

#1 Handcraft Ice Cream, Tampa, FL

Handcraft carries two types of ice cream, and since they both interested me and they were offering a buy one, get one half off promotion, I decided Ross (my husband) and I could share both of them. It’s a cute setup, with a little sound system in the corner, almost a retro-style parlor and some fun artwork on the walls.

The store is owned by a Syrian family, from what I’ve read, and I was a little disappointed that there was a language barrier when I put my order in. I would have loved to ask them more questions about the ice cream and their store.

But ice cream is the universal language, right?

IMG_0285.jpgFirst we ordered Booza Bakdash, a style of Middle Eastern ice cream that I hadn’t heard about before. (Handcraft says they’re the only place making it in the U.S.!) It was really fun, light and not super creamy or sweet, and according to Google it’s made with a paddle. The ice cream gets rolled in pistachios and if desired, you can top it with honey, like I did. It’s really great, almost savory. They gave me a generous, satisfying portion of this light, milky food. It would be a nice summer treat, and at $7 it felt like a reasonable price.

Next up was my first time having rolled ice cream. Also known as Thai-style ice cream, it was very fun to watch the ice cream as it was made in front of us. As is common at a lot of these places, you start by choosing your base, and then you can choose mix-ins and/or toppings to go with it.

IMG_0283.jpgI went with coffee ice cream, with banana, chocolate topping and Nutella. The base wasn’t super sweet, and it was a subtle coffee flavor. I found this to be the perfect flavor combination if you like banana. The ice cream itself wasn’t super creamy, but it’s a fun texture. It’s milky, so it’s lighter, and it can be a little bit crumbly – almost flaky. Again, this was an excellent portion.

I think hand-rolled ice cream is a fun experience, especially if you like mixing in toppings or sundaes, but you’re definitely paying for the experience more than for quality ice cream. The ice cream texture itself isn’t something I’d choose over more traditional methods. Here it’s $6 normally, and that felt appropriate for the work involved. (When I was there, they had a coupon online and in the store for buy 1, get 1 half off, so do take advantage if that’s an option.)

My only disappointment with the ice cream was that they were out of chocolate chips and marshmallows…maybe they’re going through growing pains and aren’t keeping as many ingredients in stock right now.

Conclusion: Booza bakdash is delicious and rolled ice cream is fun too! Definitely stop by here if you’re in the area.

Next stop: I try ice cream with charcoal for the first time, and Ross has a maple bacon donut! I’ll chronicle it all here next week.

Can’t wait to read the next part of the epic?

If you’re looking for other Florida ice cream reviews, you might enjoy my recommendations in Gainesville, Ample Hills at the Boardwalk at Walt Disney World (no park ticket required), Kelly’s in Orlando and a write up of all my Disney ice cream adventures including my favorite place for mint chocolate chip,  L’Artisan des Glaces in Epcot. (Fuller article on the latter to come!)

p.s. Thanks for supporting my blog by doing your usual online shopping via my Amazon affiliate link!

Ice Cream & Music at Emack & Bolio’s

Ross Malcolm Boyd onstage at Emack & Bolio's, Albany, NY | In Search of a Scoop

Ross Malcolm Boyd onstage at Emack & Bolio’s, Albany, NY

Last September, on our way through upstate New York, my husband Ross was eager to play an open mic. He found one in Albany, and though it took some doing to find a safe and free place to leave the RV for a while, we did just that before heading into the city to perform.

Well, as it turns out, Ross had chosen an open mic at an ice cream place. And it wasn’t just any ice cream place – it was one I’d read about before!

Emack & Bolio’s is full of personality, with super-premium

Books and gifts at Emack & Bolio's, Albany, New York | In Search of a Scoop

Books and gifts at Emack & Bolio’s, Albany, New York

ice cream at locations in five states and in many Asian countries too! It has an artsy, indie vibe, at least in Albany, New York, and they also sell coffee and pastries there. This location hosts live music every week, including an open mic, and they also have a fireplace, a garden patio and a neat selection of books and gifts.

I was so excited that after we played our three songs (and were asked to be the featured artists whenever we return to the area!) we got to get ice cream.

Extra ice cream at Emack & Bolio's, Albany, NY | In Search of a Scoop

Extra ice cream at Emack & Bolio’s, Albany, NY

Plus, when they misunderstood my initial order, I ended up with some extra ice cream…so yes, I had two bowls of ice cream here! The flavor report:

Pumpkin – It’s delicious, smooth and tastes like real pumpkin, as it should. You’ll need to love pumpkin to enjoy this. It’s subtle and lovely.

Chocolate Moose – This is a smooth chocolate – they have a few different chocolate flavors. It’s an outstanding, rich flavor! Maybe top 3 or 4 chocolates I’ve had so far?

Vanilla Bean Speck – This is a very “real” tasting vanilla. I love when you can study the vanilla bean. Yum.

Bananas Foster – This is cinnamon, with chunks of roasted banana. Really delicious!

I found the texture to be fabulous, with high marks across the board here. It absolutely lived up to the hype. There’s tons of indoor seating as well as a great outdoor stage with tables, and the live music is definitely a draw.

Pricing was on the higher side, but appropriate for a city like Albany and the clearly higher-quality ingredients they’re using. This is a must-stop if you’re in the area!

p.s. Thanks for supporting my blog by doing your usual online shopping via my Amazon affiliate link!


Something Sweet in Saratoga Springs

When you’re traveling in an RV, impromptu trips for ice cream can be challenging, to say the least. Finding a parking spot for all 25′ of us isn’t always easy.

Prices listed for the Dairy Haus, Saratoga Springs | In Search of a Scoop

Prices listed for the Dairy Haus, Saratoga Springs

But by arriving right when they opened, we had all the space we could ask for when we pulled into the Dairy Haus parking lot in Saratoga Springs.

Without realizing it, I ordered a kiddie with two flavors – the portion was very generous for a kiddie, at only $2.45! Perfect since it was a little too early for lunch when they opened at 11 a.m.!

Here’s what we thought – we didn’t try too much because we literally watched them open up for the day and felt bad!

Coffee & Sweet Cream ice cream at Dairy Haus, Saratoga Springs | In Search of a Scoop

Coffee & Sweet Cream ice cream at Dairy Haus, Saratoga Springs

Coffee Oreo – According to Ross, this one was excellent, just what you’d like a coffee Oreo to be.

Coffee – The coffee ice cream is classic. My standard for coffee ice cream is always Brigham’s, and this one really didn’t disappoint!

Sweet Cream – This flavor was absolutely delightful!

All of the ice creams here were delicious. They were very smooth, though not winning any records for smoothness. Truly delightful. I also found the location pretty charming, even on a cloudy day!

Charming seating at the Dairy Haus, Saratoga Springs | In Search of a Scoop

Charming seating at the Dairy Haus, Saratoga Springs

Next time you’re passing through Saratoga Springs, be sure to have a scoop or two for me!

p.s. Thanks for supporting my blog by doing your usual online shopping via my Amazon affiliate link!

Homemade Ice Cream in Orlando!

You might have been able to detect a bit of excitement from the title of this blog. If you did, you’re incorrect. There was actually a ton of excitement behind that blog title.

You may be thinking, why is Orlando so special? You’ve had homemade ice cream all over the country!

Well, you’d be forgiven for thinking that. The unfortunate reality is that the Orlando area suffers from a severe lack of homemade ice cream options.

You’ve got your soft-serve yogurt places. You’ve got soft-serve ice cream places. And you’ve occasionally got places that serve the hard stuff too – mostly Baskin Robbins and the like, but occasionally it’s a local shop carrying some ice cream they purchased from a distributor. And if you’re seeking gelato, you’ll find occasional options too, although I’m most excited to hear that Gelato Fiasco is opening an Orlando location soon.

But if you want homemade ice cream, made by the shop you’re purchasing it in, I wish you luck. Seriously. I’ve been in Davenport for more than three and a half months now, and finding anything less than a forty-five minute drive just wasn’t happening.

But yesterday was my day. We were in Orlando playing a concert, so we decided to adventure in the area while we were there. In searching for a botanical garden, I stumbled onto Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream. Ross and I decided we were obligated to stop. And wow – I’m sure glad that we did!

The outside is rather unassuming, with a light pink font amidst a very humble strip mall. But when you enter, you’ll be charmed by its light pink walls and sunny demeanor.

Affordable prices at Kelly'sPrices are extremely reasonable for a city, at $3.50 for a decent-sized small, $4.50 for well-portioned regular and $5.50 for a large. And if you are struggling to decide, you can get a couple of flavors in a regular (as well as a small, I believe) or three flavors in a large…or you can get an ice cream flight!

Ice cream flights are one of my favorite things. You typically pay a little more for the pleasure of a wide selection of flavors. In this case, I actually think it’s a very good deal. For $8.50 (plus tax), you’ll get four mini-waffle bowls, each with a scoop and change of a different flavor. For $10.50, they’ll be sundaes, with a topping and whipped cream and a cherry on each of them. They’ve got shakes and and shaved ice and other awesomeness too, and they have a lot of “signature” flavors, classics plus a rotating selection of seasonal scoops to try.

As usual, we tried lots of flavors, and unsurprisingly, I got an ice cream flight. It seemed like a fair price even without the waffle bowls (which I can’t eat due to gluten) but my husband Ross enjoyed snacking on them, so all wasn’t lost. Ross got a regular with two flavors.

Four cupcake holder filled with ice cream scoopsHere’s our report!

Lavendar Vanilla – This is the strongest lavender I’ve had! It’s really prominent and bright, but you taste the vanilla too; it’s a great complement. It does melt rather quickly, but not horribly. I think this flavor is best in smaller doses because it’s intense, and it almost gains in tensity as you eat more of it! It’s not quite as creamy as I’d prefer, but it’s still got plenty of creaminess.

Valen-thyme Honey – A great seasonal option. First you taste the sweet, natural honey; then you taste the thyme; and the vanilla base is subtle but nice. I love the sweetness with a bit of bite combination. It’s excellent, refreshing flavor with a bit of pop. Like the lavendar vanilla, I could use a touch more creaminess if I had my choice, but it’s still plenty.

Key Lime – Wow. This is creamy and bright and the perfect taste of key lime juice. It’s almost like cheesecake filling, without any crust/graham cracker/mixins. This is probably the creamiest flavor here. I could eat this every day. Refreshing and creamy…this is the best key lime I’ve ever had.

Maple Bourbon Bacon – It’s a maple base, with a hint of bourbon lending it a bit of wood or nuttiness, and the bacon is perfectly crispy. The bacon is also perfectly distributed so that we both found we had a little bit in every bite, although maple is the showcase here. The maple is outstanding, prominent with a deepness to it and that wonderful maple sweetness.

Cake Batter ‘n Sprinkles – Although this isn’t earth-shattering, it’s a really great cake batter base. High quality for sure, can’t really ask for more, and the sprinkles are a fun texture throughout. It’s a creamy base, but it has a firmness to it too, almost like a brownie or something else harder than ice cream…fudgy perhaps. I’m a huge fan of Blake’s cake batter ice cream (it has cake and frosting in it!) but I have to assume that this base would kick that base’s butt. Very well done.

Mexican Chocolate – This is a more subtle heat than I expected. Cinnamon is prominent here. It’s very nice, but definitely not my favorite for this type of thing.

The staff here was friendly and patient and accommodated my request to have a bowl-less ice cream flight very well. Although we preferred the creaminess of the Maple Bourbon Bacon and the Key Lime, all of them were delicious. I’m so glad we found Kelly’s and I look forward to returning whenever we’re in the area. Definitely a gem!

p.s. Thanks for supporting my blog by doing your usual online shopping via my Amazon affiliate link!

Stumbling into Savannah Candy Kitchen

I’ve been to many candy stores or confectionaries that also sell ice cream, but very few of them make their own. So when I saw signs for ice cream and gelato at Savannah Candy Kitchen, I prepped myself for disappointment. Lucky for me, when I asked a nearby employee, I found out they make BOTH their ice cream and their gelato themselves!

Savannah has a really fun, walkable downtown, and it had another great spot for homemade ice cream too, which we’d taken advantage of on our last visit.

img_7742-1But if you’re stopping in for some praline candies and you’re hungry, you won’t want to miss their ice cream or gelato.

Our review:

Praline and Cream Gelato – Wow. This is subtle deliciousness. The base is really subtle, and the chunks of praline candies are amazing. This is their candy specialty so it’s only logical the gelato would be great! I got one giant candy piece when I tried it – it’s so good!

Pumpkin Gelato – I was surprised to see this wasn’t super smooth. It had good flavor though, and there were a few candy corns in mine! It’s not especially sweet, so you can really taste the pumpkin flavor.

img_7743-1Key Lime Gelato – This was brilliant and creamy – but it has graham cracker in it, so stay away if you’re gluten-free like me.

Chocolate Ice Cream – This is smooth and has a lighter, creamy texture, almost like soft serve. It’s not my favorite chocolate, but it was really fun, and the texture was awesome.

img_7744-1The prices are reasonable here, for a downtown location. Normally $3.75 for a single or $4.75 for a double would strike me as a little high, but in a city that is fairly typical (or even pretty good). And it’s nice that you can have gelato, ice cream or both in the same location.

I can happily recommend the homemade gelato and ice creams at Savannah Candy Kitchen. And be sure to pick up some candies pralines for the road!

p.s. Thanks for supporting the blog by doing your usual online shopping via my Amazon affiliate link!

Everyone’s Leapin’ for Leopold’s

Two scoops of Leopold's ice creamWhen you’re walking down the street and you see that everyone is in line for the same thing, that should peak your curiosity. And if you’re walking through downtown Savannah, there’s an excellent chance that the long line is for Leopold’s homemade ice cream.

This place is an institution. They’ll be celebrating their 100th anniversary next year! They carry everything from traditional ice cream flavors to flavors they’ve made since 1919 like lemon custard, to flavors made with local ingredients (like ginger from Verdant Kitchen in Savannah) to more unusual, seasonal flavors like Japanese cherry blossom and lavender. This stuff is super premium, and they offer nice sorbets too, alongside a menu with fancy coffee drinks, sandwiches and soups. (For those of you in New Hampshire, it reminded me of Blake’s a bit in terms of their offerings.)

They’re a little bit pricey compared to what I’m used to – $4 for a single scoop, $5.50 for a double scoop, plus tax – and you can only get one flavor per scoop. But the pricing seems fair for “city” ice cream, and they will happily let you try whatever you like. Of course for the benefit of all of you, I had to try a lot of flavors. Here’s how I did:

The menu board at Leopold'sCaramel Swirl – This is a caramel base with homemade caramel swirl in it. Basically, this is a perfect ice cream. It’s an amazing blend of creamy texture and caramel flavor.

Lemon Custard – Wow. What a great choice. This is rich and creamy and full of lemon flavor, and it isn’t too sweet. It’s perfect for a hot, humid day in Savannah. My only critique? It is a little one-note, so I’m glad I got multiple flavors to avoid flavor fatigue. (I just invented that. Pretty good, right?)

Japanese Cherry Blossom – This is super smooth, without any chunks and with a very gentle flavor. I found it pleasant, but not exciting.

Ginger – The chunk of local ginger in this bite was amazing. So tasty if you need a kick in your ice cream!

The portions are ample here. I had to wait at least 20 minutes to reach the counter, but they brought out menus and water for waiting patrons and had plenty of seating once I got inside.

The ice cream isn’t the creamiest I’ve had,  but the texture is very, very good. It could use a touch more creaminess – it occasionally felt like a little too much work to take a bite. But the caramel and cherry were the perfect consistency, so it seems to vary a bit by flavor.

If your interest is really peaked, they are willing to ship this around the world for you! Have you tried Leopold’s? Stay tuned for my next blog, where I share another ice cream option in downtown Savannah!

p.s. Thanks for supporting the blog by doing your usual online shopping via my Amazon affiliate link!

Great flavors at Leopold's