Pints Ice Cream and Beer, Fuquay-Varina, NC

Pints is one of the most unique spots we’ve been to, because they don’t just make amazing homemade ice cream – they have a full-service bar! They specialize in their own ice cream and craft beer, and they do it really, really well. The only odd thing, during our visit, was the realization that they are both kid-friendly and adult-friendly…so, don’t be shocked if a little tyke is at the next table if you come for an early happy hour!

I visited last fall, when the world looked very different than it does today. If you go today, they aren’t allowed to serve alcohol on their patio, because they’re considered a “bar”. But that won’t stop you from enjoying some ice cream!

They carry a smaller list of flavors, but it’s always got some really unique offerings. If you’re gluten-free like me, you’ll have a much smaller menu to choose from, but they do a great job making it clear which flavors are gluten-free. Next time we go, there will definitely be a milkshake on the menu.

I went with a “beer and ice cream flight”. That meant my husband and I could get a bit of drinking on and some ice cream on. The owners are incredibly friendly and helpful. They use local and from scratch ingredients where possible, and have reasonable prices (especially given the quality of ingredients and the unique flavors). They keep it simple at $2, $4, $6 depending on the scoops you want. Coffee is also on the menu for an affogato.

Here’s what we tried:

Brown Sugar Vanilla – You’ll taste the cream, with some sugar (not a ton)…it’s nice, a little chunky in texture. My husband loved it, and I enjoyed it. It isn’t super sweet, and all the flavors cut through well.

Eggnog – This is an excellent take on eggnog flavor, and the consistency of the ice cream was quite good.

Just Chocolate – This is an excellent, creamy, fresh, lighter take on chocolate. This makes at least my top five for lighter chocolate ice creams! Really great.

Mixed Berry Sorbet – This was excellent! It’s tart and full of fruity sweetness. It tastes like a sorbet (you won’t be fooled into thinking there’s dairy here) but WOW is it delicious, and perfect to pair with a drink.

Tea and Biscuits – Wow, this was fabulous! This is some of the best earl grey tea flavor my husband has ever had in ice cream. He got great consistency in the bite he had, with the biscuits at the perfect consistency (soft and flavorful). They didn’t take away from the base, but they added texture, almost like cookies and cream ice cream. (Not gluten-free, of course.)

Sugar Cookie – My husband tried this one too – the cookies were very prominent, he enjoyed it.

Bailey’s Irish Cream – This is 21+ of course. It’s delightful! Creamy and sweet, perfect if you like the taste of Bailey’s. I found it super smooth and consistent, which is especially astonishing given how difficult it is to make a consistent ice cream when there’s alcohol involved! It’s very possibly the best alcoholic ice cream I’ve ever had. So appropriate given the setting! Note that this ice cream costs an extra $1.

Drinks:

Irish Stout – My husband enjoyed the stout on tap in our flight.

Prosecco – This was also in our flight. It’s good with that mixed berry sorbet!

Cider – They had one cider as well, and that was great too.

Overall the flavors were extremely consistent, generally very creamy and smooth, and boy was that Bailey’s ice cream incredible! The Bailey’s and the Just Chocolate also make a perfect pairing, so I’d highly recommend that.

Thanks so much, Pints! Hopefully you’ll get to fully reopen soon (with a bar), but in the meantime, you’ve got some incredible ice cream for everyone to enjoy!

My photos are missing, but I borrowed this cute picture from their Facebook page.

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Andia’s Homemade Ice Cream, Cary, NC

Andia’s has a few locations in North Carolina, and it’s well-worth a visit when you’re in town. They offer a variety of flavors with decent portions and a sampler available too. It’s a cute shop.

I visited last fall, but they now offer some of their items (pre-packed pints, ice cream sandwiches and cakes) via online ordering for pickup. The rest of their menu must be ordered in the store itself.

Here’s what I tried:

Carrot Cake – This is very interesting. You can taste the very freshly grated carrot. The spices are interesting…they honestly reminded me of a satchel in a dresser drawer!

Peppermint – This is a little creamier than I usually see, with a higher cream to peppermint ratio…it was really nice!

Eggnog – This is a subtler flavor, super creamy and very delicious (not at all artificial-tasting as is sometimes the case).

Rose Pistachio – It’s got chunks of pistachio that are fresh and awesome! The rose is subtler, but still present. It’s really delicious.

Butter Pecan – This is honestly sweeter than I prefer. It’s harder to taste what’s going on here. It’s pleasant, but not as memorable unfortunately.

Double Dark Chocolate – This is smooth, creamy and dark. And perhaps a touch of graininess? It’s very nice (though not the best I’ve seen).

Dark Indulgence – This is super delicious! It’s so fudgy…nice dark chocolate with chocolate chips. A big winner!

Mint Chip – The real mint flavor here is pleasant, though be warned that my husband found it tasted like toothpaste! This is definitely freshly sourced. not my favorite, but a solid flavor.

Peanut Butter Fudge – This is peanut butter, Reese’s pieces, and a fudge ribbon. It’s a classic flavor for lovers of chocolate and peanut butter.

As you might have guessed, I went with a sampler! The sampler gives you seven mini-scoops and waffle pieces for $6.50 They also offer a single for $3.50, a double for $4.99 (you can get two flavors) and a triple for $6.47.

Overall I found the ice cream at Andia’s to be really consistent, super creamy and tasty! A few of the flavors had a bit of an odd spice or flavor profile. I really liked the chocolate and peanut butter ones, and the rose pistachio and eggnog were nice too.

I’m a HUGE fan of the labels they use – V for vegan, G for gluten, N for nuts – to help those of us with dietary restrictions. And the location was adorable, with flexible seating.

I look forward to visiting Andia’s again when I’m back in town. Have you tried Andia’s? If yes, what did you try, and if not, what flavor would be first on your list?

Photo courtesy of Andia’s website.

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Ceo’s Gelato Bistro, Portsmouth, NH

My generous friend Tom, after getting ice cream with me, agreed to also stop for gelato with me while we were in Portsmouth. Ceo’s Gelato Bistro was friendly and fun. This homemade place hadn’t come across my radar before, and I was very glad I stopped. Prices were $5.96 for a large (8 ounces) or $5.27 for 6 ounces, plus tax, and they were willing to cram 4 flavors into one dish for me!

They’re currently offering contactless curbside delivery, with extra offerings like party packs and some other fun local products too.

Here’s what I tried:

Avocado Chocolate Chip – This is a bright and super creamy avocado base. Really nice!

Apple Cider Sorbet – This is like a smoother take on applesauce. It’s tasty, mild and reminds me of fall.

Honey Grapefruit – This has a nice natural sweetness, and the creamy pairing is neat with grapefruit. This is really fun and not too tart.

White Chocolate with Fig – Yum! This is a very smooth and creamy, not too heavy, white chocolate base. The touches of fig in it are lovely, and it has a nice and natural sweetness to it.

Ceo’s was definitely a hit. It’s a really fun place if you’d like to try some unique flavors, especially because they’ll let you sample a lot of them. And curbside pickup makes it even easier.

Thanks, Ceo’s!

Photo from Ceo’s website

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Annabelle’s Ice Cream, Portsmouth, NH

Annabelle’s Ice Cream has long been a staple in Portsmouth, NH (they opened in 1982), which means that as a child and young adult I had several positive experiences enjoying their ice cream long before I was an aficionado. Their super premium, kosher ice cream is full of natural ingredients, and they’re an easy walk to the waterfront.

You can find other Annabelle’s locations in other parts of New England and in specialty stores, restaurants and other ice cream shops too. Last fall while catching a musical with my friend Tom. Here’s my (long overdue) reviews of Annabelle’s.

I was impressed by their variety of fun flavors, and their staff was fun and accommodating. With tax, $4.50 gets you a regular, a very reasonable price for a very reasonable portion, and for $5.50 a large is a very big and generous portion.

Here’s what I tried:

Mint Summer Night’s Dream – Wow, this is so delicious! It’s a dutch chocolate base with mint and big chocolate chunks. It’s luscious. I’d eat it again in a heartbeat.

Salted Caramel Chip – This was a super soft and awesome caramel punch in the base – smooth and fluffy. It’s Halloween in a bite!

Dutch Chocolate – While it was the most boring of my flavors, it was very nice! They use a very high-quality chocolate and make the base a super smooth consistency. It’s got a lovely level of richness and chocolate. This is excellent ice cream.

I was so impressed. Annabelle’s is excellent ice cream and though my memory thought they were expensive, I now realize it’s SUPER reasonably priced for the portions and the city real estate. I’ll have to return and find out what a “walking sundae” is next time.

Thanks, Annabelle’s! I will definitely be back!

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Holy Cow Ice Cream Cafe, Gloucester, MA

Last fall, I visited Gloucester, and after an awesome visit to White Farms on the Causeway I had to check out the ice cream at Holy Cow Ice Cream Cafe!

They pride themselves on their super premium ice cream and vegan offerings (4 flavors during my visit), and they have a trendy cafe with a fun vibe. They play around with macarons, s’mores, ice cream sandwiches and lots more. There were tons of seasonal flavors, and also tons of flavors with gluten in them, so I had to choose my bites strategically.

One of the coolest things was that they let you get multiple flavors in ALL sizes – that’s a major selling point for me!! Their portions are large too – I went with the $3.99 kiddie, and it is LOTS of ice cream. So don’t be alarmed that the prices look a little bit high – you’ll get plenty of ice cream even with the smallest sizes.

They make their waffle cones fresh to order. My husband got one, and found it warm and very tasty thin and crispy.

My only complaint, if I can call it that, is that the staff acted pretty bored with life during my visit. But they did whatever we asked without complaint, so I can’t really slight them for that. 🙂

Here’s what I tried: 

Pumpkin Spice Latte – I really dug this one! It almost has a bit of heat from the spices used. The coffee base is really yummy, very smooth and tasty. It’s such a fun combination of flavors. It was so good it motivated my husband to get a cup too!

Cranberry Walnut Chip – The cranberry spice is nice. It’s a more subtle flavor, without a particularly prominent cranberry flavor. The chunks in it were great. Personally, I’d prefer to have a more consistent cranberry base (like a gelato), but this is a nice fall flavor and appropriate. It has chunks of cranberry, walnut and chocolate.

Note: they don’t have a public restroom. But they do have very cute indoor seating. So just be aware.

They’ve got a walk-up window and are still sampling in the time of COVID, so you’ve got a handy outdoor option as well.

Thanks to Holy Cow for a tasty visit! Have you had any great ice cream lately?

Supporting This Blog

I am truly grateful for your support of my blog! You can help keep the content coming regularly by doing any or all of the following:

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White Farms on the Causeway, Gloucester, MA

Last fall was my first visit to Gloucester, MA, and for a lot of reasons, I truly hope it won’t be my last! It’s a gorgeous area and I had some delicious food during my visit. One of the highlights was a visit to White Farms on the Causeway.

It’s an outdoor ice cream stand, with the ocean salt in the air and some fun cows for decoration. Portions here are VERY large, with a kids one giant scoop for $4.50, small two giant scoops for $5 and a large for $6. With tax, my two giant scoops “small” was $5.25. It’s really a great deal because of the gargantuan portions.

During my visit, the kids in line were being pretty crazy, which was stress-inducing, but the person behind the counter was very sweet and patient despite the chaos happening outside.

Here’s what I tried: 

Pumpkin – This was actually almost like a cheesecake! It has the sourness of a cheesecake, and isn’t too sweet. There are no chunks and it’s nicly spiced. It wasn’t super soft in consistently, but it was definitely soft enough and consistent.

Chocolate – This is a super deep cocoa flavor, like a rich hot chocolate. And it’s smooth. So yummy! It makes my top ten and is maybe even a top five contender, though probably not because I just had ANOTHER one that knocked things out of the running. One of these days I will publish my actual top five for all of you!

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was absolutely thrilled by the ice cream at White Farms Ice Cream on the Causeway. If you go, be sure to try both the pumpkin (in the fall) and the chocolate – I highly recommend!

In light of COVID-19, this is a great place to visit, as it’s all outside and they mark six feet with milk crates to help with social distancing.

Thanks for reading, and happy eating!

Photo from White Farms Ice Cream on the Causeway’s Facebook Page

ice cream 2

Supporting This Blog

I am truly grateful for your support of my blog! You can help keep the content coming regularly by doing any or all of the following:

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Granite State Candy Shoppe, Concord, NH

Way, way back, when I was just starting this blog, I tried to visit Granite State Candy Shoppe. (I’d visited once or twice to browse the candy, but I’d never gotten ice cream there.) The first time, I was looking for a sweet treat while in downtown Concord. So I headed over…only to see that they were closed already for the evening. (Guess I should have looked up their hours first!)

The next time was several weeks later (definitely into the fall at this point), and when I went inside, they informed me that they only scooped ice cream during the summer – but I could buy a pint! Since I was there as a part of an outing with my husband, and since we’d never tried their ice cream, I wasn’t interested in just grabbing a pint to go, alas.

So it had been years – very probably three or four years – since I’d tried to go back. I’d thought about it a couple of times when I was in New Hampshire, and whether it was the parking or the knowledge that they might not be scooping yet, I skipped it.

But thankfully, in early September of last year, I was finally free to visit!

Here’s what I tried: 

Ultra Chocolate – This is their version of chocolate. It’s pleasant, but I found it to be an icier and lighter ice cream rather than a creamy texture.

Peppermint Stick – This is super smooth, melt in your mouth creamy, without any chunks. It would be perfect with hot fudge. It tastes like Christmas! It’s also a bit flaky on the spoon, but NOT when it hits your mouth, so never fear!

NH Maple Pecan – This is a robust maple flavor, with crunchy pecans. It’s base is about midway between icy and creamy. I really like the pecan texture here.

Black Raspberry Chip – The texture is a bit flaky, but this is a super delicious real raspberry flavor, with excellent darker chocolate chips.

I ordered a small for $4.50, which honestly looked like a medium, and they let me get two flavors. These were big portions that felt fair given the prices. I got my ice cream in a white chocolate bowl!

I loved the variety of flavors that they had, though all three flavors of cheesecake have crust so none for me. They’ve got tons of sundaes, make your own sundaes, maple syrup and other add-ons, and the prices include tax.

During my visit, they had one scooper and one cashier. That meant that the line grew quickly as I was trying flavors. Perhaps that’s why it’s seasonal? It must be hard for the employees to regulate. They were nice, it just gets congested quickly.

They are offering curbside pickup right now from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. (call for their Sunday hours, it’s unclear on the website), and they’ve got an extensive collection of homemade candies (quite cheap/reasonable depending on the type) and fudge in addition to their ice cream. You can also order their fudge and candies online.

I’m so glad I finally made the visit. These are excellent flavors with quality ingredients, even if some of the textures are a bit more flaky than I’d prefer. It’s definitely worth a try, and I’d add on maple syrup or try a chocolate bowl if I were you.

Which of these flavors would be first on your list to try?

Photo credit: Granite State Candy Shoppe website

IceCream3

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Grassroots Ice Cream in Granby, CT

This week, I’m honored to have Max Schwimmer, known to me mainly as a stellar saxophonist and arranger, as a guest blogger. I think you’ll love his contribution (and if you do, be sure to comment, so we can convince Max to return again sometime soon!), and I know it definitely makes me want to take a road trip to Connecticut soon! 

For a small state, Connecticut has no shortage of high-quality, fresh ice cream. I’ve lived in the state for nine years, and I’m still discovering new spots.

But no matter how many places I visit, there’s one that stands out above the rest. Grassroots Ice Cream in Granby boasts “wickedly creative ice creams”, with 36 constantly-rotating flavors like goat cheese blackberry, rose chocolate, cardamom cashew, caramelized pear, Irish cream chip, and salted caramel bacon brittle.

These unique flavors were what first drew me to Grassroots, but what keeps me coming back is the consistency of their ice cream base. I can’t overstate the perfectly creamy texture. If they only served vanilla, I’d probably still go there because the ice cream itself is just that good.

Grassroots is located just off the town green in Granby on the site of an old general store, and the space still has an old-time, New England vibe. In 2018, they expanded the building to open Deep Roots Street Food, serving up fast-casual style global cuisine like falafel wraps, “pho-rritos”, and Greek street cart fries…perfect for a pre-ice cream meal.

Starting at $3.50 for a scoop, the prices are reasonable for premium, fresh ice cream. You can get a milkshake for $7.25 (definitely not a bargain, but then who wants a milkshake when you can try so many fun flavors?), as well as ice cream cakes and pies. Grassroots offers a variety of toppings too, but I’ve always felt that fine ice cream is best unadorned. Come at me if you disagree!

Here’s what I tried on my recent trip:

Strawberry Oreo – Grassroots usually offers several Oreo flavors, and I don’t think I’d ever tried one before. The strawberry flavor was strong, fragrant, and not super sweet. The oreo pieces felt soft, as if they had soaked up some of the ice cream before freezing solid. This was probably my favorite flavor of the three.

Lemon White Chip – I was pleasantly surprised by chocolate chunks and large shortbread pieces in this scoop. The lemon flavor was pretty subtle. Shortbread pieces were definitely the highlight.

Garden Berry Pie – based on the name of this flavor, I was expecting something a little more exciting…maybe some fresh berries mixed in with some pie crust pieces. Instead, I think it was just a plain vanilla base with a berry swirl. Definitely the least interesting of the three flavors, but since it was still Grassroots ice cream, it was still good.

In non-COVID times, I recommend taking advantage of taste-testing several flavors before ordering. Since there are so many tempting flavors to choose from, it’s helpful to try a few to figure out which ones are truly worth it.

Have you visited Grassroots? If so, what did you think of it?

About Max, our guest blogger: 

Max lives in West Hartford, Connecticut, where he is a digital marketing specialist by day, a saxophonist and music educator by night, and an ice cream aficionado by all hours. His blog at maxschwimmer.com helps students and parents navigate the challenges of learning saxophone, from instrument purchase guidelines to pandemic practice tips.

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Kellerhaus in Laconia, NH

Kellerhaus offers homemade chocolate, ice cream, candy and gifts. Most of the “chocolate, ice cream, candy, gifts” places I’ve traveled to haven’t put enough emphasis on crafting great ice cream. Many of them don’t even make it themselves. So I was delighted to see that Kellerhaus is the real deal.

Kellerhaus is 100% worth a visit if you’re in the area just to browse the unique gifts. While it clearly caters to tourists, it’s got a diverse range of items and is just a really fun experience. (They’re currently open and require masks when you aren’t eating, with seating inside and out.) It’s got a really neat layout for wandering, super cute with a player piano that’s very fun to watch.

A few other logistics to note would be that they close early – outside of the main summer season – they closed at 6 p.m. the day I visited last fall. Check the website to confirm their hours. They offer cups, cones and a sundae bar, which is extensive, but I haven’t confirmed if that’s open during COVID-19 or not. Their scoops are quite large, but be aware that you can’t combine flavors in a scoop. So I got a regular with 2 scoops/2 flavors, and my husband went with 1.

The sundae bar includes hot fudge, butterscotch, tons of fruit toppings, chocolate sauce, marshmallow, whipped cream, candies, nuts…it was really yummy. The only thing I missed was a cherry – and I imagine experience showed them not to put those out!

Here’s what I tried: 

Chocolate – This has depth, and surprisingly darker notes, but overall it’s a medium ice cream.

Cherry Chocolate Chip – This is a classic fluffy ice cream, a tasty cherry flavor with nice chocolate chips. It’s great!

Pistachio – This bright flavor was really nice.

Maple Walnut – This has a great classic maple flavor, which I liked a lot. Not winning awards but very tasty.

Lemon Custard – This is a nice recreation of a lemon meringue pie type of flavor. It’s nice, but I felt like it needed a little more oomph somehow.

These flavors have a nice fluffy consistency overall. Expect classic flavors, and the sundae bar is a really fun touch.

The ice cream itself is really great here! It’s not too sweet a base, and it’s fluffy and yummy, quite consistent. And the prices were reasonable too, at $5.10 for 1 scoop and the sundae bar and $5.75 for 2 with the sundae bar.

Kellerhaus was a pleasant surprise, and I’m so glad I stopped by! It’s definitely worth adding your list when you’re in New Hampshire.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for next week, when we’ll have a guest blogger!

Supporting My Blog

I am truly grateful for your support of my blog! You can help keep the content coming regularly by doing any or all of the following:

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