Ice Cream Roundup

I periodically have ice cream (or other treats) at places that don’t meet my typical requirements for a full review. I’ve decided to point out some recent highlights and thoughts from some less conventional ice cream destinations. Here’s an ice cream roundup from the past year or so.

Patron’s Hall, Alamogordo, NM

Patrons Hall, Alamogordo, NM | In Search Of A Scoop

This is an absolutely adorable cafe that seems to have been thoughtfully built when they renovated the downtown theater space. They host open mics and performances and we will most definitely return to play and grab a drink.

In the ice cream department, I was underwhelmed. They carry Shamrock Farms, which I hadn’t had before. Overall the flavors I tried were creamy but weak, including Peppermint Stick, Black Cherry Chunk, Mint Chocolate Chip (both pleasant) and Coffee, which I could barely taste a flavor of at all.

This past weekend I tried their vanilla and chocolate and found them both to be quite high-quality when compared to a Hershey’s or similar cheap, “premium” ice cream. Since Patron’s Hall offers fun powers for shakes and frappes and a variety of other drinks, there are plenty of reasons to return…and the ice cream was also dirt cheap, so it’s a low risk if you’re curious. Free samples too, of course.

Caliche’s Frozen Custard, Alamogordo and Las Cruces

Caliche’s, NM | In Search Of A ScoopCaliche’s, Las Cruces, NM | In Search Of A ScoopCaliche’s, Las Cruces, NM | In Search Of A Scoop

We’ve visited Caliche’s in both Las Cruces and Alamogordo, and though I didn’t grow up eating custard, I feel confident in saying that their custard is delicious. I have not tried the chocolate yet, but the vanilla is fabulous. I had a “caliche” which is custard with mixins – I went for raspberries and key lime sauce. On my second visit, I went for a sundae with hot fudge and strawberries. If you’re going frozen fruit, I prefer a caliche – so the fruit isn’t so frosty – but this stuff is delicious however you slice it. They also have a drive through and offer dog cones (at least in Las Cruces). Their “real” food was tasty if typical fast food quality. Future must-do is a green chile sundae. We will return, Caliche’s!

Le Macaron French Pastries, Winter Park, FL

Le Macaron, Winter Park, FL | In Search Of A ScoopLe Macaron, Winter Park, FL | In Search Of A ScoopMacarons are generally gluten-free, as they are here, and sometimes you’ll even get lucky and see a macaron ice cream (or gelato) sandwich!

We were told the gelato company featured here is French. The macaron ice cream sandwich with violet was delicious, with a nice chewy and crunchy outside layer. The vanilla gelato was quite creamy for gelato, with a nice vanilla bean presence and almost a tiny bit of a bite to it. The violet gelato reminded me of raspberry, with a really nice bitterness. It’s very subtle. Ross felt it was almost like “What’s the point?”, but I disagree. It’s just understated. It paired with vanilla nicely, but it will be easily lost next to other flavors. Worth a visit for macarons or gelato if you’re in the area…unfortunately there is no homemade ice cream or gelato in downtown Winter Park. (For the homemade stuff, head to Kelly’s.)

Sanaa, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge, FL

Sanaa, Disney World, FL | In Search Of A ScoopSanaa, Disney World, FL | In Search Of A ScoopMeals here are amazing (and the setting, with wild animals, is spectacular) but there often isn’t much in the way of gluten-free desserts. But we lucked out at Christmas this past year. They were serving a homemade cherry ice cream in a chocolate-covered cherry entremet.

It wasn’t a perfect or particularly creamy ice cream, but it had beautiful rich chocolates covering the cool ice cream with great flavor and a perfect crumble and mousse. The milky ice cream complemented the bitterness of the chocolate well. And that cherry Kurt was tart and amazing.

The portion was also huge – easy to share. And those who had their macarons described them as a “cloud with frosting in the middle”. So if you can get dessert at Sanaa, go for it…especially the special!

San Angel Inn, Mexico, Epcot, FL

San Angel Inn, Disney World, FL | In Search Of A ScoopThis restaurant was also a fantastic experience. It’s gorgeous, perpetual twilight, inside the Mexico pavilion. I had lots of delicious gluten-free options, and I decided to try ice cream for dessert.

This style of ice cream seems airy compared to what I’m used to…less creamy and almost icy when you swallow it. It had caramel on it, and I could detect cinnamon and nutmeg. It almost tastes like a different product entirely…maybe it’s a condensed milk base? It’s almost rustic. And somehow, though it wasn’t housemade, it didn’t taste like there were preservatives. Very tasty, thanks Disney!

That’s it for today’s roundup. Have you gone out for ice cream lately?

Some past blogs for inspiration:

Jordan’s Creamery, Belmont, NH

Eddy’s Frozen Custard, Buxton, NC

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

Finding Gelato and More in Fort Collins

When you pass an adorable gelato place, you should stop in. Especially if reviewers say it’s a homemade gelato place. And when you’ve recently had a less than stellar homemade ice cream experience, and you’re in a new city for a while, it’s probably time to cleanse your palate of that underwhelming taste in your mouth with some delightful, homemade gelato.Gelato & aMore, Fort Collins, CO | In Search of a Scoop

We are currently within walking distance of Gelato & aMore, a fabulous Italian restaurant with homemade gelato and desserts plus a variety of pastas, sandwiches and pizza. (They also offer spaghetti squash as a pasta option!)

Ross did try a slice of pizza and enjoyed it, but we focused our visit on all of the gelato. All of it.

Gelato choices at Gelato & aMore, Fort Collins, CO | In Search of a ScoopThe staff was very patient with us, letting us try whatever we wanted and having a great conversation too. Here’s what we sampled:

Pistachio – This is very good, creamy and a forward flavor. Very tasty.

Amarena Cherry – I haven’t had these cherries before! It’s a very distinct, darker cherry that pairs well with the super creamy base. I enjoyed pairing it with chocolate and butter pecanTwo scoops, Gelato & aMore, Fort Collins, CO | In Search of a Scoop

Passion Fruit – So delicious! It’s vegan, though I confess I’m not sure if it was. sorbet or made with a vegan milk option. In any case, the tart and creamy combo is delicious, a definite winner, and the passion fruit sauce on top is fabulous.

Butter Pecan – Wow! This is the brightest butter pecan we’ve had. It’s so strong and fun…and the pecans are toasty and delicious!

Three scoops, Gelato & aMore, Fort Collins, CO | In Search of a ScoopChocolate – This is so rich and creamy. I think it’s the best chocolate gelato I’ve had. It reminded me of the inside of a Lindt chocolate truffle, although the texture is a bit different of course. (Not that fudgy.)

The prices were very reasonable. We got a two scoop and a three scoop for less than ten dollars with tax.

There’s only one table inside, but that was enough for us. 🙂

Other tips: If you can handle gluten, there are some very creative ice cream sandwich type options, perhaps to share with a friend. (Churro gelato? Spumoni ice cream sandwich? Yes, please.) Also, pistachio and chocolate pair extremely well together.Three scoops, Gelato & aMore, Fort Collins, CO | In Search of a Scoop

This stuff is great. It’s super creamy, which is rare for gelato.

It’s all great. Highly recommend. We will be back for more Italian goodness…soon!

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!

Kickin’ Back at Pop’s Sugar Shack

IMG_6746Pop’s Sugar Shack is in Conklin, NY, which is basically Binghamton, according to several websites in a quick google search. My husband had suggested we spend the night in Binghamton as we were passing through – perfect choice, by the way – and after visiting an amazing comics & games shop, we found a delightful spot for some homemade ice cream.

IMG_6747This is a family-owned shop with both homemade gelato and homemade ice cream, and it’s adorably pink and out of the 50s or 60s. We loved the huge portions and the great prices here. A medium gives you three large scoops and was only $4.05 with tax. We tried so many flavors! Here’s our report.

Chocolate: This is a creamier version than the classic. Less chocolate flavor than usual..which makes it perfect to go with hot fudge on it.

IMG_6750Mint Chocolate Chip: This had real, full-size chocolate chips! It wasn’t too sweet, and the chips weren’t either. I might have enjoyed a slightly higher chip to ice cream ratio though.

Strawberry Cheesecake: No crust, so it’s good for the gluten-free among us! It’s a creamy cheesecake base, on the lighter side, with a prominent strawberry swirl. Delicious! This is a lighter take than many strawberry cheesecakes (no chunks etc.) but it’s one of my favorite versions. So creamy and cheesy!

IMG_6748Fireball: Yes, like the candy or the alcohol! It’s alternates between creamy and just like a fireball candy, with chunks of candy pieces. Original and very fun!

Chocolate Marshmallow: This wasn’t too sweet. The marshmallow is a delightful swirl, like fluff. The chocolate is about a medium in terms of darkness…and this is especially creamy!

Overall we loved how fluffy and creamy and delicious these ice creams were. They go down so smoothly! It’s awesome. And we did try some gelato – the pricing is very different from the ice cream (no mixing and matching between the two types) but we liked what we sampled.

Thank you for staying open into the fall, despite the cold! This was a wonderful visit. Go check out Pop’s Sugar Shack for yourselves!

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

Gelato Fiasco in Brunswick

My brother Robbie has recently moved to Brunswick, Maine, and my husband Ross and I were excited to spend a couple of days with him and his girlfriend, Ria. I have some challenging dietary restrictions, but Robbie and Ria insisted on cooking a delicious meal for us before following it up with some delicious dessert at Gelato Fiasco. He clearly knows the way to my heart!

Gelato Fiasco seemed reasonably priced for a city, and perhaps most importantly, they encouraged us to try as many flavors as we wanted – and we could combine as many flavors as we wanted in a cup! I think Ross and I got mediums (and a Robbie and Ria got smalls). Since there were four of us on hand, we were able to sample a lot of selections. Here’s what we thought!

Sweet Resurgam: This flavor includes sweet almond, burnt sugar, chocolate and caramel. It reminded me strongly of a Ferraro Rocher candy, which I loved. Extremely creamy. Absolutely outstanding. Ross found it peanut buttery. The chocolate is perfect and the flavors melt and blend in the mouth perfectly.

Cardamom: This is subtle, with a nice spice throughout. It’s a perfectly fall flavor. Not nearly as creamy as the sweet resurgam – much more typical of gelato, which doesn’t have a very high fat content.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt: A darker chocolate base with the perfect amount of salt. It’s excellent. It’s almost as if hot fudge were gelato, although not as sweet. Deliciously creamy.

Caramel and Cider Donuts: Robbie thought there might be too much donut here! Each part was delicious, but he felt the ratio was off. Ross didn’t get many chunks in his, and he felt the gelato had no distinct flavor. Cinnamon, caramel or something would have been nice. Tastes perhaps like a generic vanilla.

Netflix and Chill: This flavor has peanut butter cups, brownies, chocolate chips and a caramel base. Ross really liked the overload of sweet treats here.

Fall in Bourbon County: This tastes like pumpkin and isn’t too sweet. They add bourbon and it had a little caramel to it. Ross said the pecans elevate it – the clusters are caramelized or glazed. Robbie added that this one doesn’t taste like every other fall thing. Ria enjoyed the bit of warmth and punch from the alcohol.

Ross sampled all of my flavors as well as his own, and he felt that the dark chocolate sea salt and sweet resurgam were much creamier than the other flavors we had. Perhaps their fall flavors are less polished and they’re still balancing? Or maybe I just lucked out.

Gelato Fiasco was founded in Brunswick, but they also have a Portland location. Their website is pretty fantastic, and I enjoyed reading about their Red Spoon Society.

It’s an adorable place that also carries coffee and gets very busy in the evenings. Stop by and report back on how you liked it!

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

Finding Delicious Gelato in AZ

It would have been so easy to title this entry inappropriately. But that wouldn’t be right for this delightfully family-friendly, 70’s retro gelato shop in amazingly quirky and wonderful Bisbee, AZ. 

We visited Pussycat Gelato in the second month they were open, so be sure to call before assuming any of this is still accurate. But whatever the deal is there, you’ll want to go! 

Covered in female-centric pop culture and playing retro cartoons, Pussycat Gelato is a delightful place for coffee, Happy Hour and of course gelato or sorbet. We visited during the monthly Friday arts night when local downtown businesses stay open late for shoppers. Their presentation was wonderful. Even when customers came in behind us, they insisted we try as many flavors as we liked and happily made recommendations. They also had an “experimental” flavor we could try and give feedback on. 

Best of all? As we finished our gelato, they came back with samples of new flavors and asked for our feedback. They repeated this multiple times once it was clear we gave good feedback. It was so much fun and it made it clear to us that they will go far as a business because they solicit feedback and keep working to improve. 

The business fits perfectly in quirky, hip Bisbee, AZ. They told us they were hoping to open another location in Phoenix in the future based on the feedback they were getting, and according to their website, they’ve opened a Scottsdale, AZ location since our visit. 

The wife of the ice cream maker mentioned the fun combination of an older retro style parlor with the new quality gelato. It really is a great combination. 

Prices weren’t cheap, but given the amazing service we would happily pay more. And consider getting a cannoli with ice cream – such a unique option. 

This was not your average visit. Although I prefer the creaminess of ice cream over gelato, I enjoyed the experience and the tastes I got here. Be sure to check them out if you’re in town.

The flavors:

Strawberry Cheesecake – We both got this. It’s a very prominent cheese flavor with tasty, if not fresh, strawberries. The strawberries plus cheese makes this reminiscent of the traditional dessert, minus the crust.

Chocolate-Covered Cherries – A vanilla-based ice cream that’s full of flavor and really lovely. The high-quality chocolate melts in your mouth, and the cherry and chocolate aren’t sweet which is great. 

Star Anise – Ross calls this one perfect for after curry. We love the kick afterwards and the delicate flavor here. 

Mexican Coffee – Very bitter, as you’d expect with coffee. Ross’ type of flavor. It adds a bitterness to the chocolate base, and thechocolate-covered expresso beans are a plus.  

Irish Cream – Very creamy but very light. Bailey’s can be intense, but this is balanced really well, not overpowering. It’s finished with a smoky whiskey flavor that pairs well with Mexican coffee. It’s really the perfect strength and balance. 

A cookie came with our dishes – it’s very good, thin, fluffy and breaks easily, like a plain cone but more wafer-like. Imagine a nutter butter. It’s sweet and fun to eat and a nice alternative to a cone. 

Taste Test Results:

His old version of pistachio was very good, sweeter and more like pistachio ice cream than I expected. 

The new version was excellent – much more like the nut, with an earthiness to it. 

The old caramel was very salty and interesting. The new one has fantastic chunks and is much more well-rounded and balanced. 

We tried plenty of other flavors too, so don’t be afraid to ask. Thanks to Pussycat Gelato for a fantastic evening!

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

Stumbling Upon Gelato in Fort Worth, TX

People often ask me how I choose which ice cream (or gelato, or frozen yogurt) places to visit. Although I aspire to visit EVERY homemade ice cream place out there, my time and budget certainly don’t allow that. So I tend to do some research, read reviews and narrow my search down based on where will be convenient for me, their menu offerings and what I’m betting will be best based on reviews. 

But that isn’t the whole story. Sometimes I will be exploring a town or a city and I will literally pass an ice cream place that I hadn’t realized I’d be seeing. At that point, I do a little research, consider how hungry I am and how much money I’ve got for a treat. I’m certainly more likely to visit if it’s right in front of me. 

So although gelato isn’t my favorite treat, when I saw Paciugo calling to me as we explored the Christmas lights in Fort Worth last year, I decided to give it a look. (I was also craving ice cream but there wasn’t a homemade place nearby.) It turns out they’re a chain with locations in about ten states, and their gelato is made on site. They also have a nice coffee menu, and if coffee plus gelato sounds like a fun combination to you, you’ll enjoy it even more. I decided to check out a couple of flavors. My husband Ross stuck to a hot black coffee, which he was pleased with. The prices were on the higher side for smaller portions but we were in a fancy part of Fort Worth so it felt kind of normal. Here’s what I went with. Wild Berries: The true fruity taste of this is lovely. It’s actually dairy-free too. Delightful and not overly sweet with an awesome fruit tang. A nice mouth feel too.

Milk Chocolate: This gelato has a very nice feel, with a rich milk chocolate flavor. It reminded me of an excellent drinking chocolate. 

Ross enjoyed both flavors a lot too, and I also recommend the combination. Although this is so far the only location I’ve visited, I would definitely recommend Paciugo when you’re craving a tasty dessert. Do you have a favorite place to get gelato?

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