Category: Destination Ice Cream

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!

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Return to Hatchland, N. Haverhill, NH

I last blogged about the magic of Hatchland Farm’s ice cream in the fall 2018. At the time, all I had tried was their maple soft serve and maple hard ice cream. Spoiler alert: I loved it.

Last fall, I wasn’t teaching locally, so I had to work harder to find reasons to visit Hatchland, which is in the middle of nowhere aka North Haverhill, New Hampshire. But trust me, if I was within an hour or two of Hatchland, I did everything possible to make a visit!

As of my last visit, they were still offering both sugar and regular gluten-free cones in addition to the regular offerings and waffle cones. With COVID-19, they’ve had to adjust their inventory somewhat, so call ahead if that’s a deal-breaker for you.

They use their own cream and milk in the ice cream, and they’ve got a cute general store carrying pints and quarts to go, milk, eggs and lots of other local products and even some baked goods and produce.

Their hard ice cream is excellent, I’ve had several flavors and I recommend it enthusiastically. It’s definitely on the harder side, but none of that super hard texture. It’s still creamy.

Their soft serve is 100% the best reason to visit. Since my last writing, I learned that they use their soft serve as a way to use up their extra cream, which means this stuff is richer than the soft serve you’ll find anywhere else in NH (and almost anywhere, in my own experience).

The maple soft serve is still my absolute favorite.

The sweet cream soft serve is not too sweat, super creamy and almost like butter. Rich and lovely!!

And of course their vanilla and chocolate soft serves are equally delightful.

If you ever see the option to get maple and sweet cream as a twist, DO IT! But also, get them separately. Just eat them, trust me.

They only carry two flavors of soft serve at any given time, and they rotate out the non-vanilla flavor, so don’t get your hopes married on any particular one. You can follow them on Facebook for fairly regular flavor updates.

They offer ice cream flights and their ice cream is pretty darn cheap, and laughably so if you’re used to city prices. And portions are large!

They sometimes have coffee soft serve…they sometimes have strawberry shortcake…and you need to try this.

Last fall, I drove to Hatchland when I was in Plymouth or when I was in Littleton. It’s not particularly close to either. But it’s worth the trip, and the scenery there and back is gorgeous. They scoop seasonally though their store will keep selling pints and such while they have it.

Have you made a trip to Hatchland yet? If not, what’s stopping you?

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Eating at Olson’s in Eau Claire, WI

Olson’s has a classy and super cute downtown location with parking nearby and Phoenix Park practically next door for exploring. It was one of those places that made me wish I could come back again soon – the location really can’t be beat! (They also have a Chippewa location, which I haven’t visited.)

Olson’s has reasonable prices, and they’re honestly great for a small city in a location like this. They have an extensive menu with lots of traditional flavors, but I had to go for the wilder ones. They also have a nice coffee menu and homemade waffles (including gluten-free)!

Here’s what I tried:

Lemon Poppyseed – This flavor wasn’t particularly a smooth base, but it’s a super fun flavor combination. The base was on the hard side, with a lovely bright flavor and of course the poppyseeds.

Maple Mania – My word. This is a maple base with a maple swirl. The base is less sweet, not super creamy but very consistent. The swirl was outrageous and sweet and really made the ice cream. It reminded me of waffles!

Chocolate Chip Cheesecake – They had me at “no crust” since I’m gluten-free…Oh my gosh! This is a cheesier, not super sweet, but very smooth cheesecake. To be fair, it isn’t my favorite cheesecake flavor ever, BUT the chocolate is great, the texture is awesome and it’s gluten-free. So worth a shot, ESPECIALLY if you’re gluten-free.

Raspberry Cheesecake – Luckily, this one is also without a crust. My favorite – the raspberry is SO luscious and bright and yummy! I really loved this one.

Next time I’m in town, the gluten-free waffle with ice cream for $8 will be an absolute must. Sounds like the perfect breakfast to me and I only wish I’d had more time.

Olson’s, you honestly comforted me a lot at a time when I really needed it – I was halfway through a solo trek across the country to get to my grandfather’s funeral. You’re the reason I stopped in Eau Claire for the night, and I’m so, so glad I did. I look forward to returning someday under happier circumstances!

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Big Dipper Ice Cream, Missoula, MT

Big Dipper Ice Cream in Missoula, Montana is an extremely popular ice cream spot. It helps that it’s in a college town, has a great location on the edge of downtown and it’s delicious.

I spent a summer working for Missoula Children’s Theatre when I graduated from college, so from 2005-2006 I had gotten lots of opportunities to sample their delicious ice cream (and sometimes, to eat it for dinner). I was delighted to return in August of 2019 and give my husband a brief walking tour of my old haunts in Missoula.

Though they’re currently offering contact-free pickup, I visited late on a Tuesday night last year and found a gargantuan line around 9 p.m., which tells you how popular this place really is. Please note that there isn’t a restroom, though at least pre-COVID they had tons of outdoor seating.

You can combine two flavors in a single (yay!) for $3.50, or you can go for a double (a very generous portion) which is super reasonable at $5. They serve the ice cream with a wooden spoon, which is a great environmental move I imagine but which does affect the taste a bit, if that bothers you.

Here’s what I tried: 

Elephant Chai – This is special! It’s a fun flavor, but my sample was very icy.

Chuckleberry – This is chocolate ice cream with huckleberry (the latter a regional delicacy if you haven’t had it!). I found this to be a pretty fun and smooth combination, and it was quite creamy.

Chocolate – This is super smooth, a classic lighter chocolate flavor. I found it kind of like a fudgsicle! This might make my top ten for lighter chocolate ice creams, and it isn’t dissimilar to a soft serve texture if that appeals to you (as it does me).

Cardamom – My first bite of this was ice, honestly. Otherwise, the cardamom spice is quite fun, and this was a super creamy texture. It’s a sweet enough base and the creamy aspect pairs well with the spice. I thought it was excellent, minus that first ice bite.

Big Dipper offers mainly traditional flavors, though it gives them a creative spin (like the chocolate plus huckleberry combination). With the giant line, I didn’t feel comfortable asking for additional samples. It seems like this location at least has some struggles with ice in their ice cream. I imagine this is more of a storage issue than a product issue – the ice cream is also sold in some stores, so they distribute it on a wide scale and I’m guessing they’ve got a very consistent product.

That being said, be prepared to get a bit of ice, but if you’re willing to forgive it, you’re likely to experience some truly delicious and very good to excellent ice cream. Enjoy, and say hi to Missoula for me!

Photo courtesy of Big Dipper Ice Cream. 

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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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Molly Moon’s in Seattle, WA

My visit to Molly Moon’s in Seattle was on a very busy evening, with a big crowd outside. Despite the crowds, they were patient while I tried several flavors. It’s a cute spot (they have several locations) and they are “tip free” here, because the wage in Seattle is $15/hour. (Yay for a living wage!)

They suggested hot fudge in a waffle cone, which sounds amazing, but this gluten-free girl stuck to ice cream. Their prices are typical for a city and reflect the fancier ingredients and sourcing they do. They did let me get a single with two flavors (they charge $4.99 for that) so that’s the option I ultimately went with.

Here’s what I tried:

Melted Chocolate – This is more bitter than I expected. The texture is almost like a marshmallow! It’s very satisfying, and might make my top ten…it’s really unique among other chocolate flavors out there.

Yeti – This is granola, caramel and chocolate chunk, and it’s always fun to have a chunky texture, especially if you’re gluten-free like me. The base seemed to be vanilla or a similar creamy flavor, very smooth and satisfying. The caramel swirl is thin and drippy and sweet and delightfully satisfying. The granola and chocolate chunks are very tasty and give a nice texture contrast. It’s a nice sweeter flavor, and everything cuts through well.

Lemon and Blueberry Custard – This was a great flavor, but mine was a little bit icy.

Salted Caramel – I found this to be very bitter, but super creamy and with tasty caramel. It’s a solid caramel base, with no chunks. It’s unusual to have that bitterness – very fun.

They offer some really fun toppings here, but they’re very pricey, probably because they’re organic and such.

Molly Moon’s continued my pattern of finding excellent ice cream in Seattle. I wasn’t wowed by the prices particularly, and any time my ice cream is icy is a bummer, but I really enjoyed their flavors overall. In my experience here, I’d say it’s definitely a must-try if you like the more bitter side of ice cream flavors. If you like your ice cream sweet, you’ll have to shop around to find the flavors that suit you, but they’ll be very good.

This is my cousin’s favorite spot in Seattle, and since she knows her ice cream and is local, I definitely value her opinion! Thanks for the tasty treats, Molly Moon’s!

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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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Kurt Farm Shop, Seattle, WA

I’ll begin by saying that when I visited this shop in August, the owner was already looking for a buyer, and I’m happy for them but sad for the rest of us to report that Kurt Farm Shop sold its tiny and adorable location to Sweet Alchemy and instead is focusing on their cheese and farm.

I’m thrilled that we got to visit while we were in Seattle. It was such a quirky location, a tiny storefront you really had to work to find, and they were known for their interesting flavors, in particularly their Flora’s Cheese.

Here’s what I tried:

Flora’s Cheese – This is a very fun base – I think it’s a kind of a milky or sweet cream base, and it has chunks of cheese in it. It’s a milder flavor, and very fun. This is the one everyone raved about and it’s definitely unique! It was my husband’s favorite – I enjoyed it a lot too.

Lemon Verbana – Wow! This was super bright and had a complex pop to it. It reminded me of an antiques store! So fun, very creamy, and honestly reminded me a little bit of Fruit Loops milk!

Chocolate – Their dark chocolate is amazing! They also have a milk chocolate. The dark chocolate is rich and dark like a brownie batter. It makes my top five…it wasn’t as creamy as the ones I usually gravitate towards, but it was amazing, textured like a brownie and I think it’s even better than the chocolate I’m so fond of at Epcot. (Probably a top 3 or 4!)

Strawberry – This tart strawberry is sweet, but not too sweet, very creamy and good. (Dedicated readers will know I’m not a big fan of strawberry ice cream, but I enjoyed this a lot.)

This was the best ice cream that our group found during our visit to Seattle. For me personally, I preferred Frankie and Jo’s because I’m gluten-free and kind of wacky, but for traditional ice cream, this beat everything else we had time to try.

We are very sad to hear of Kurt’s closing…it’s probably for the best since COVID would likely have closed them anyway. Wishing them and the new folks all the best. So glad we got to enjoy while we were in town.

Be well, and happy eating!

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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Salt and Straw, Seattle, WA

My first experience with Salt and Straw was in LA, and I’ve also enjoyed their soft serve in Portland. Other than their soft serve, which I found pretty fantastic, I’ve found that their flavors are very hit or miss. I’d fallen hard for their Freckles woodblock chocolate, enjoyed their almond brittle with salted ganache, and their honey lavendar was sweet and strong. And of course there was the black olive brittle and goat cheese, which left me declaring that if I could eat that flavor every single day, I could give up other ice cream forever!

Yup. I said that. Me. 

But then they’ve got other flavors that I wasn’t so fond of, and the pricing is on the higher side, and in general, they prefer their ice cream significantly less sweet than I enjoy.

So with a lot of caveats, I told my cousin Michelle we should give it a shot – but I would completely understand if she and her husband didn’t enjoy it at all or want to get anything. Better to undersell these things, right? Especially with someone with a stated preference for New England ice cream.

When we arrived at 8 p.m. on a Monday, there was an amazingly long line outside. They’re great about letting you try flavors, but it was very crowded and you’ll need to advocate for whatever you want over the din. But the service is great when you finally get there.

Here’s what I tried: 

Carrot Cake Batter w/ Candied Pralines – The major spice on the pralines was an aftertaste, almost too much, but really nice. This was really fun, probably my favorite of the night, and I really appreciated that they made it gluten-free. (Yay for gluten-free cake batter!)

Green Fennel and Maple – This was surprisingly sweet and creamy, a very forward flavor. I really like the levels of both the fennel and maple here. Unfortunately it had a lot of ice crystals.

Beecher’s Cheese – The cheese was fine, but the peppercorn toffee inside was super peppery and sticks around for a while…it kind of made me cough. It was too much for me.

Cloudforest Chocolate Hazelnut Cookies and Cream – This isn’t creamy – the Nutella was actually kind of chunky. I had high hopes, but this one was just so-so.

Rachel’s Raspberry Ginger Beer – This is a sorbet, and I found it pretty refreshing and fun as someone who loves ginger beer. I did find a few ice crystals in this flavor.

So, in sum, Salt & Straw again provides some gourmet flavors, but there shouldn’t be ice crystals in them, so that was a real bummer. Overall I had two very good flavors (sans ice crystals), two duds and one very pleasant summer experience (sans ice crystals). Definitely worth a try, but the experience confirmed for me that there’s still a lot of room for improvement here. I’m not sure if they just serve too many people or what, and I wish the flavors were consistently great.

Have you visited Salt & Straw? Or ordered their ice cream online? I’d love to hear your feedback!

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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Frankie and Jo’s, Seattle, WA

Frankie & Jo’s holds the rare distinction of being a place that I had on my bucket list for several years before I got to Seattle! Because a friend of mine (thank you, Dan!) has been raving about it for years, I knew it was an absolute must visit when I made it to the city.

I’m happy to say that it didn’t disappoint. I visited both locations (one right on the water!), and it was a major highlight of my trip to Seattle. Before I review it, you should know that the entire menu is both plant-based (vegan) and gluten-free. Ice creams use a base of cashew milk and/or coconut milk, and they keep the ingredients simple, avoiding preservatives and using a wide variety of innovative ingredients and flavors.

Here’s what I got:

Captain Whidbey Caramel Cookie Crunch- This was super fun. I loved the balance of the alcohol’s punch with the rest of the flavors. They described it as “A rich and decadent caramel ice cream base with chewy, salty, chocolatey, crunchy potato chip cookie bites and a gooey caramel swirl.” Seems pretty accurate to me!

Berries and Fermented Cream – “Berries & Fermented Cream: A one part vegan creme fraiche ice cream made from our own fermented cashew milk plus one part triple organic Washington berry coconut milk ice cream swirled with our house-made berry jam & almond flour lemon cake pieces.”  This is really enjoyable! I’m definitely a fan. Any time someone makes gluten-free cake and throws it into an ice cream, I’m going to be on board with it.

Chocolate Tahini Supercookie – Oh my goodness! The base is an amazing chocolate, one of the best that I’ve had, so rich, creamy and indulgent. It might make my top three, and definitely top four, for a best chocolate ice cream!

Gingered Golden Milk – While my husband found the coconut to be a bit too much, for it added the perfectly balanced flavor against the ginger and the major turmeric kick at the end.

Mint Cookie – This is delicious chocolate chewy cookies in a minty base. It’s so yummy, and everything I’d hoped for!

California Cabin – These cookies are amazing and have a big kick when combined with the smoked vanilla and pine flavors. It’s a thick base. It’s super fun and comforting like Christmas or cookie doughh.

After trying just about everything (!) I had my choices in a maple vanilla gluten-free cone that tasted like a cookie, so tasty and with great spices, and perfectly cooked.

On my second visit, here’s what I tried:

Brown Sugar Vanilla – The coconut flavor of the base goes well here, but it’s very prominent, so don’t get it unless you love coconut.

Chocolate Date – This is a really strong chocolate flavor, and the date is almost more of an aftertaste, on the second beat. Its super creamy and yummy.

Tomato Melon Mint – I enjoyed the first bite, but after that it was just too much for me. Honestly, the idea of cold tomato almost made me ill. Just not my thing, but others in my party liked it.

This time, I got a waffle cone with chocolate tahini super cookie and mint cookie – so delightful!

The prices here are reasonable for a city. I did three flavors in a waffle cone and then two flavors in a waffle cone and thought the portions were good.

Frankie & Jo’s is a must-do if a) you’re vegan, b) you’re gluten-free or c) you love interesting flavors of ice cream. If you like plain vanilla and chocolate from cow’s milk, this probably isn’t your shop. But for me it was an absolute winner.

And the best news? Even though COVID-19 means you’ll have to watch their website for local availability, you can also pay for shipping to have it sent across the country! I just might have to do that. 🙂

Thank you SO much, Frankie and Jo’s! I will absolutely be back and I’m so, so thankful that you do what you do.

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Macadons in Seattle, WA

Departing from my visit to Full Tilt, my cousin and I were immediately distracted by signs for both macarons and ice cream at Macadons. Despite the fact that I’d already eaten, I knew I’d need to carve out a little bit of extra space for an ice cream-filled macaron sandwich.

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