The Taste of a Liebster Award

Well, I don’t actually know what a Liebster Award tastes like…but I imagine it is sweet, though not too sweet. Perhaps like a hazelnut dark chocolate ice cream, or something brighter like a peach frozen yogurt.

Why, you might reasonably inquire, would I be imagining the taste of a Liebster Award?

Well, that would be because I was nominated for one, of course! For this very same blog. liebster-award

Beth from Portable Heart nominated me (be sure to check out her blog, I love her style of travel & blogging and I’m looking forward to more), and I’m so grateful for this lovely gesture as I’m in the early stages of In Search of a Scoop. 

Part of the scoop with a Liebster Award, though, is that you return the favor and nominate someone else for a Liebster Award. And I confess that as much as I’ve been geeking out over blogs for the last year or so, including many by my friends in real life, I don’t know of any blogging newbies that I should be nominating. So if you’re out there, reader, and you’re new to this, please comment, with your blog address, and I’ll check it out! I’d love to pass along a nomination or two & send you questions to answer.

In the meantime, part of the requirement of the nomination is to answer questions that your fellow blogger asks you, so I’ll do that now. Thanks again Beth!

  1. What’s the single best meal you ever ate?

What a delightful question. I do love to eat. A few favorite meals come to mind – I’m not sure that I can choose one above the others….Z Food & Drink, before they closed in Manchester, NH, had my favorite ever dessert (they called it a brownie sundae, I believe, but it was a deconstructed delightful take on it) so I had a few fantastic meals there. My husband and I also ate well at Disney a few weeks back, and our meal at Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen (long name!) was a phenomenal experience. And on our honeymoon we had some delightful food as well, particularly seafood. But if I had to say the best ever, my instinct is to choose the first time I ever ate a Mexican restaurant at age 6. I shared chili & other spicy things with my dad and while the rest of the Girl Scouts at my table were taking the kids’ options, I went for the good stuff. And you could say I never went back. So I’ve definitely been an adventurous eater since at least age 6!

2. Did you ever lose something important while on the road?

Well, I lost a tank top I loved a lot while I was traveling with Missoula Children’s Theatre, but it wasn’t important… I suppose you could say I lost some of my dignity while traveling via Greyhound from Fargo, ND to Charlotte, NC!

3. When was the last time you used an actual paper map?

At Disney, we did it a lot. Prior to that it was our honeymoon – since we were in Canada, the GPS wasn’t an option!

4. What’s one eye-opening experience you’ve had while traveling?

Seeing poverty is always eye-opening. In particular, seeing the devastation in Nebraska after a tornado, and seeing the state of things on one of the American Indian reservations that I stayed at (both while working for MCT) were life-changing.

5. Have you ever done something while traveling that people who know you would be surprised to hear about?

Yup. But I probably shouldn’t post it publicly. 🙂 Honestly, I think people might be surprised to hear that I drove into San Francisco for a day by myself – in a pickup truck!

6. Did you ever visit a place that was nothing like how you thought it would be?

Yes. I visited a beautiful town in the mountains of northern California once – it seemed like a quiet, dying town, but when I got to know it, I discovered the residents were lively and lovely, at all ages. I fell in love with it and if they weren’t 10 hours from an airport, I would want to retire there.

7. What’s your favorite blog that you discovered in 2015?

I’m discovering a lot of new favorite blogs, but one that comes to mind is Liz Horan’s blog, Our Journey, on her family and her health challenges. She’s an incredible writer and has really inspired me as I’ve been learning to be my own health advocate and deal with chronic illness.

8. Have you ever felt lonely when you were traveling?

Yes. Particularly when I was solo and single. The hardest part for me is that I need a lot of physical touch. If I’m not around people that I feel comfortable hugging, I’ve found that I start to get depressed. It was particularly bad when I first did summer stock in Wisconsin – thankfully by halfway in we were all friendly enough that I could pin a friend down and say I needed a hug. But it was a really eye-opening thing for me as I hadn’t realized how important that was to me.

9. How do you envision your blog 6 months from now?

I envision it being a great resource for ice cream in New England and beyond, and I envision my readers continuing to inspire me to visit new places & discover more.

10. What’s something you struggle with when it comes to blogging?

I know that having the discipline to post won’t be difficult for me, but I’m still getting into the habit of it, so that will take a little bit of time for it to become routine. The one thing I struggle with in all my writing is that I don’t like revising! I’d rather one-off an article and let it go. But I know it’s important.

11. What’s your favorite travel souvenir?

That’s a very fun question! My husband and I got a lot of artwork when we were on our honeymoon – four prints, I believe, plus cards that we like to hang as art – and getting artwork when we travel is marvelous. Also, it’s too early to declare it my favorite, but I just got a gorgeous masquerade mask in Disney that I’m particularly excited about.

Have a new-ish blog I should check out? Leave a comment below! And thanks again for the nomination, Beth!

Destination Disney World

Q: What’s better than going to Disney World?

A: A free trip to Disney World – or at least free housing and park tickets.

Q: What’s better than a free trip to Disney World?

A: A free trip to Disney World where you make it your goal to eat great ice cream!

Well, clearly we know what I set out to do on this trip. First, the quick backstory if you didn’t deduce it above – my husband’s sister and her husband, as our wedding present, paid for our hotel and park tickets for a week-long adventure at Disney World. Ross, my husband, had never been before, and I had only been for a couple of day trips, so we were ridiculously excited.

Being the planner that I am, I handled the reservations and did FAR too much research to know where and when would make the best use of our time and money – and feed our interests (and bodies) in the best way possible. It’s amazing how many Disney boards there are online that one can spend days visiting. But I digress.

Of course, I also started In Search of a Scoop only a week or so prior to leaving, so I knew one of my goals needed to be to take good photos of ice cream. Well, at least photos. 🙂

So, first of all, if you want to get live updates on ice cream occasionally, be sure to follow me on Facebook. I’ve gotten some great recommendations for future visits there (as well as here – thanks to all who commented!) and I shared a couple of photos of ice cream (including a ridiculous sign) while I was at Disney. You can expect me to indulge in an occasional live update there (and eventually Instagram when I get that rolling) in the future.

But now, I need to get into what you’ve all been waiting for…

How was the ice cream?

Pinkberry – Orlando International Airport IMG_2234

I’ll start with Pinkberry at the airport. My prior experience with Pinkberry previously in NYC was absolute raves, for pear and for pumpkin. Unfortunately when they stepped away from these tangier fruit and such flavors, the vanilla and the chocolate hazelnut at the airport were nothing to write home about.

The vanilla had the requisite vanilla bean-esque flavor, and the chocolate hazelnut was also tasty, but they were far too watery and you definitely missed the fat – they didn’t hide their healthy yogurt quality at all. Would we eat it again? Sure, if we really were craving soft serve. Definitely middle of the pack at best, but it’s pleasant. But if you’ve got the choice, stick to fruit flavors at Pinkberry and you’ll be much happier.

L’Artisan Des Glaces – Epcot, Walt Disney World IMG_2418

Oh my goodness. When you’ve only got five (and a half) days to see everything, and you visit the same place three times, you know they’re doing something right.

I had heard absolute raves about this place. It’s in France, of course. No seating, but it’s a gorgeous, old fashioned ice cream counter with whites and pinks. Absolutely lovely. One quirky thing (which I liked) is you decide on the size, pay, and then decide on the flavor. Pretty great.

The chocolate macaron ice cream sandwich came highly recommended. Because Ross and I were planning to eat our way through Epcot, we agreed we would split it. This is insanely delightful. It’s a rich dark chocolate – not bitter, but not too sweet, which was a welcome change in a chocolate ice cream. All of the sinful creaminess you’d wish for, no ice of course, just the perfect consistency. And on either side, the chocolate macaron cookie shell, which was a little chewy and hard – that meant it held up to the ice cream and it wasn’t too cold to bite. It also wasn’t too cold to eat on a cold day. The light chocolate flavor of the macaron was the perfect contrast with the ice cream. I wouldn’t change a thing!

On our second visit, I tried vanilla with pear and chocolate – the best part was the large, juicy chunks of pear. I appreciated the flavor but it wasn’t my favorite – I wished I’d gone with something more simple, like the caramel fleur de sol that Ross chose, which was out of this world and completely smooth and consistent. So on our third and final visit of the trip, I got the caramel option while Ross went for one with nougat and nuts – he enjoyed it a lot, thought it was great, just not as good as the caramel.

So if you’re visiting, definitely get a macaron sandwich. And then the caramel. You won’t regret it!

Aloha Isle, Magic Kingdom IMG_5287

Dole Whip. That famous non-dairy, vegan delight that has an incredible cult following because it’s almost impossible to find outside of Disney. I’d never had it prior to this trip, and I was eager to give it a go. Pineapple dole whip is like soft serve ice yogurt – it doesn’t have any fat, but it isn’t watery at all – it’s a perfect consistency, and it kind of reminded me of something you’d get when you were in the mood for an awesome popsicle. It’s definitely refreshing.

The next day in Animal Kingdom, I visited Tamu Tamu Refreshments on a mission for pineapple dole whip with dark rum. (Coconut rum is also an option.) Dark was the perfect rich contrast with the pineapple of the dairy treat. I absolutely loved this sweet adult treat and recommend it when you can’t decide between dessert and a drink! (Or do what I did, and get both this and a drink! Just not at the same time.)

Intermission Court, All-Star Music Resort IMG_5445

For those not in the know, All-Star Music is at the bottom of the totem pole of Disney hotels. It would be a budget motel anywhere else. No room service (except pizza delivery), and a cafeteria instead of any fancy food options. But it really fit the bill for us! We loved it, and we had very good food the few times we tried it.

As we sought ways to pass the time in our last hour or so at the hotel, I suggested that I should really visit their gelato bar. The nice woman behind the counter read off the flavors to me (there was no sign) but one of them I just couldn’t understand. I kept hearing OO-ta-la, with the emphasis on the first syllable. Finally she just handed me a sample – and it was Nutella! Sold. Tasty hazelnut base with streaks of chocolate syrupy fudgy goodness. Best gelato ever? No. Replaces ice cream? No. But very, very tasty and I’d eat it again in a heartbeat! Probably a 7 out of 10 if we were keeping score.

Well, that’s where my Disney adventures led me. I have many more posts to come – in fact, I went to Friendly’s last night with my mom, so you can look forward to a report on what this local chain is up to – but I’ve far exceeded my word limit for today. Find some good ice cream to enjoy this winter, and I’ll talk to you soon!

IMG_2447

p.s. Have suggestions for how you’d like me to score these things or comment about them? Don’t hesitate to reach out. 🙂

Let the ice cream madness begin!

I’ve been pondering the creation of an ice cream blog for a long time, and about six months ago I decided yes, I will do it, and it’s a question of when, not if, I begin it.

Well, the start of a new year seemed like as good a time as any, so here’s my first post!

So – why am I qualified to blog about ice cream? Well, let’s give a quick bit of history, in the form of some facts about me.

#1 -I’ve been obsessed with dessert ever since my parents introduced me to sugar at age 1. (Yes, they waited that long! Unfortunately the late introduction didn’t keep me from indulging.)

#2 – As a kid, I hated kid stuff. From age 6 on, I refused to eat from a children’s menu because they were for babies. And I would always, ALWAYS finish my (adult size) dessert. This trended has almost entirely continued into adulthood – even as I have become a very healthy eater (meat once a week or so, member of a CSA for five years, avoiding processed food, etc.), I have always maintained my love of dessert, with ice cream and frozen yogurt being an almost daily indulgence.

#3 I am obsessed with hand-crafted ice cream. I seek out the homemade stuff wherever I go, and in New Hampshire, where I’ve lived for most of my life, it’s pretty easy to come by, at least during the summer. I am the only person I know who has driven an hour just to get ice cream at her favorite place on many occasions (multiple times a summer). When I’ve lived near summer ice cream stands, or worked near summer ice cream stands, frozen yogurt for lunch was a once or twice weekly endeavor. (For example, see below – a lunch of honey Greek yogurt and some sort of blueberry swirl at Northland Dairy Bar in Berlin is about as good as it gets.)

Northland Dairy Bar Ice Cream Lunch

#4 Ice cream stands are destinations to me, and I relish exploring new ones. Classic flavors are great, but I also really enjoy trying adventurous flavors that I may never find anywhere else.

#5 I think ice cream is the best dessert out there. Gelato is delightful. Frozen yogurt, good frozen yogurt, gets extra health points (probiotics! usually less fat!) and is therefore a staple of my diet. Also, it isn’t really a birthday party without ice cream cake.

#6 I believe that year-round ice cream parlors should be the norm, even in cold climates, and I therefore believe it is my obligation as a good citizen to patronize these institutions, even when the temperatures are below freezing.

Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ll subscribe and follow all my adventures as I visit the best ice cream places. Have ideas of where I should go? Don’t hesitate to reach out!