Scoops of Delicious on the Outer Banks

Being from New Hampshire, where homemade ice cream can be found almost everywhere, I have fairly high expectations for local ice cream. I’m not content with whatever the local, cheap premium offerings are. I like to taste the local flavor, you know? In touristy, vacation areas, ice cream places are everywhere, and that can make digging for the good stuff a real challenge. That’s especially true here in the Outer Banks, where most places don’t have a website and at best have an active Facebook page. But we’ve done the hard work of sorting out the local offerings for you, so you can focus on enjoying your ice cream, and here is one of our favorites.

Scoops could easily get lost in the shuffle of touristy shops in Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills. But it shouldn’t – this place is special. Their Nags Head location is in a small, two-story shopping plaza that includes Kitty Hawk Kites, a fun boutique, a fudgery and more. 

Their Kill Devil Hills location is a few miles north of that, on the opposite side of the street. They’re close enough to each other that we recommend visiting whichever one is on the more convenient side of the street. 

When we first visited Scoops, it was after trying out two other local, homemade ice cream offerings in the area. We hadn’t been super-impressed and weren’t expecting to be here. But lucky for us, Scoops is really worth a visit. Ignore the few non-homemade offerings in the case (it will be obvious) and stick with Scoops for some creamy ice cream in original flavors that are perfect for summer. They’re also excellent at recreating the flavor of particularly non-ice cream foods.

Here are some of the diverse offerings we’ve tried, with our thoughts:

Mandarin Chocolate Chip – A summer fun orange flavor with less sweet chocolate chips. A much more upscale sherbet/chocolate jimmies/sprinkles combination!

Beach Cooler – This is like a pina colada, but with banana instead of pineapple. I loved the first bite, although I was less enthralled after that. The fluffy texture is great. It reminds you of a delicious coconut beverage, and the texture is so fun that it kind of re-sold me as I ate more of it!

Cantaloupe – The real fruit is subtle, and this is too! Not very sweet and tastes just like the real thing. It’s awesome, a perfect summer flavor. 

Chocolate – Expect a lighter chocolate flavor, super creamy and melt in your mouth delicious. 

Butterfinger – So fun! It tastes just like the candy. 

Salted Caramel – This is pleasant, but not striking. The consistency is similar to a cheap coffee ice cream. It reminded me of a cheap caramel candy. 

Cotton Candy – This one is highly recommended! It honestly tastes just like the real thing. If you like cotton candy, you need to experience this for yourself! 

Mint Chocolate Chip – Charming, with good chocolate chips, but not revelatory. 

Strawberry Cheesecake – This has an excellent fruity base with a real creaminess to it, with excellent chunks of cheesecake. 

Heavenly Hash – Uses their already great chocolate base, so it’s delicious. 

Chocolate Brownie – Ross’ review is that this is the “same chocolate we know and love with chunks of moist, delicious brownie”.

Butter Pecan – A light, sweet ice cream with a wonderful buttery aftertaste.

Amaretto – Very good and tastes authentic. 

Scoops is one of two great options for ice cream on the Outer Banks. They’re reliably tasty, but they’re also extraordinarily friendly. They’re one of the few places that encourage you to try whatever flavors you’d like, and they will combine flavors into a scoop too. And it’s very affordable!

Both locations have pleasant places to sit – Nags Head outside in the shade or in view of the ocean, and Kill Devil Hills inside like a traditional ice cream parlor. We’ve also sampled a tasty burger in Nags Head, so this is a great option for a fairly quick, cheap meal. (Think under $3 for a burger.) 

Their ice cream melts in your mouth and is never icy, and they make gorgeous ice cream cakes if you should need one. We recommend a side of hot fudge to put on top! 

They also carry some delightful candy, including locally made bacon truffles. You’ll want to try one – trust us on that. And we hear the Nags Head location has some fun live music during the summer. 


One thing to note? Everyone around here has flexible hours, depending on traffic and maybe their whim. So call ahead and be willing to go to the other location if one is closed. Less of an issue in the heart of the summer, but the sign says to be aware of this. 

We love Scoops and if we are in the area, we always try to stop in for a scoop or two. We’re very thankful for this local homemade ice cream option on the Outer Banks!

Ample Hills Creamery – Disney World

Although people make assumptions about food at Disney – that it’s “theme park food” so it won’t be great, that it’s very overpriced, that it’s bland – some of my favorite ice cream can be found at Walt Disney World. In particular, that would be the mint chip (more of a delicate flake) and the chocolate ice creams from L’Artisan Des Glaces in France at Epcot. 

But if you’re craving ice cream outside of the parks, Disney has a few other options worth considering. One of them, Ample Hills Creamery, is a relatively new addition. You actually may have seen it on a visit to Brooklyn, New York, where they’re based.  But if you’re like me and missed checking them out on your NYC trip, be sure to visit The Boardwalk at Disney World for shopping, entertainment and some ice cream.

Getting ice cream in Epcot can seem like a deal compared to regular Disney prices. From my visit, I can’t say the same for Ample Hills necessarily. Even outside of the park, your visit isn’t going to be cheap. But the service is fabulous – try whatever you want! Really! – and there’s not only a wide variety of flavors; there are tons of options, including alcoholic ice cream drinks and a sampler for the undecided like me! 

My husband, Ross, couldn’t resist the pull of one of their fancy drinks. I couldn’t resist an opportunity to try out many flavors in a sampler. We spent about $20 total – not bad considering Disney alcoholic mixed drinks will usually run you about $10 plus tax. Our thoughts are below. Hard Cherry Cider Float – Ross ordered his with dark chocolate ice cream. An excellent flavor combination. This was sweet but not too sweet, and we both loved it! Seriously consider coming here for a drink, either on an Epcot park day or otherwise. (Ross and I have Weekday Select passes, so visiting here on a day when our passes aren’t valid is a great way to get our Disney fix.)Sea Sells Sea Shells – This flavor is exclusive to Disney World. It’s an orange marshmallow base with chocolate seashells. It’s like a sherbet base, with excellent chocolate pieces. If you’re into those things you’ll love it!

Lime and Ginger Sorbet – This combo is an excellent summer flavor. Not only is it a great vegan option, but it’s alcoholic, which is kind of awesome! It reminds me of lemonade. Very refreshing. 

Cotton Candy – This is nice. It reminds me of an almond-flavored birthday cake. Surprisingly, it’s not that sweet and kind of simple. It’s not a bad take, but different from what I was expecting. The more I ate it, the more I wished it was sweeter. I think I’m a bit biased as I LOVE cotton candy and recently discovered a place on the Outer Banks (Scoops) that perfectly recreates the flavor. 

Vanilla – This is a very nice vanilla; hardier and more complex than I usually see. It’s almost buttery!

Peppermint Patty – They use their own homemade patties in this. Wow. The candies are epic. Although this flavor isn’t as refreshing as what you’ll find in Epcot, it perfectly recreates a good mint candy, which is pretty amazing. It’s very tasty and I enjoyed it more the more I ate it. 

Dark Chocolate – This is excellent. Not too sweet, perfectly smooth and rich. 

Strawberries and Cream – Classic strawberry flavor, but it wasn’t as sweet as I expected. It is very good and pairs well with chocolate. It may surprise you if you’re used to the standard strawberry ice creams out there. 

Overall, ice cream here is an excellent consistency. Sometimes I prefer a bit more sweetness, but it’s much easier to taste the flavors without the added sugar, so it’s a balancing act. 

Ross votes to combine strawberry and chocolate at his next visit. The chocolate was my favorite by far, but the sorbet is fantastic too, and the mint chocolate is very good. Although strawberry isn’t usually something I seek out, both it and the vanilla are tasty. I would personally skip the cotton candy. 

In conclusion, Disney World had another excellent ice cream option worth a trip. If you have a favorite place for ice cream in the World, let me know! 

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

Alcoholic Delights in Austin

What’s a group of adults craving a night out to do when their sweet tooth is calling? The average ice cream place, even if it’s an upscale parlor, caters to children and families, so even after 10 pm, it may not be a relaxing setting for your girls’ night or after-hours get together.Well, if you happen to be in Austin, you’ve got plenty of options. And one of them is Prohibition Creamery.Although Austin has many delicious ice cream places to choose from, we visited there in an RV, so getting around was a challenge. Lucky for us, we walked right by Prohibition Creamery after a long day of walking. There was no resisting their unique bar/homemade ice cream combination! 

I went with two flavors. They don’t carry a wide variety, but it’s a nice mixture of alcoholic and non-alcoholic ice cream. (And we saw a family drop in during the afternoon, so apparently that’s cool too, at least during the day.) Our thoughts are below. 

Dark Chocolate – This is actually a vegan sorbet. It was a little grainy, but honestly it was quite smooth for a sorbet, almost creamy. Ross said it began with a note of dark chocolate, then a bitterness, and finally a fruitiness. Unfortunately there was a bit of ice burn in one side of my scoop. The other side was just about perfect!

Mezcal Vanilla – This is one of their boozy flavors. It’s fun! The alcohol is subtle and very complimentary. 

Triple Bourbon Milkshake – This was Ross’ selection. It includes bourbon, bourbon ice cream and bourbon whipped cream! He loved it and now has really high expectations for when we go back someday. 

Alcohol in ice cream is often subtle and perhaps much worse, just not done well. Alcohol messes with the chemistry of the ice cream, making it harder to execute well. Here overall it’s prominent and done well since it’s basically what they do! 

This place isn’t cheap. You’ll spend much more here then you’d expect in your average ice cream parlor. And of course alcohol always will increase your costs. But we highly recommend giving them a shot. As Ross said, “If we lived here, this could be where we had all our business meetings.” I love that there’s a place to accommodate my crazy sweet tooth and Ross’ desire for a drink. 

Have you been to Austin? Where do you recommend for an ice cream treat? 

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

Tastings in Tucson 

My husband and I were lucky enough to spend a few weeks in Tucson, Arizona this past winter (mid-December to early January), so I made a point of seeking out homemade ice cream options in the area.
Tucson has many ice cream places to choose from, and we really loved their downtown, so it was a no-brainer to get a dish or two. 

Our first planned stop was Isabella’s. Next to a fun used bookstore, Isabella’s was having their electricity redone the day we visited, so much of their ice cream wasn’t in great shape. While we can’t be sure the ice cream was their best effort, we enjoyed their service and the cute, very small ice cream parlor on our visit. 

Here are the flavors we sampled:

Honey – Although it wasn’t my favorite honey of all time, this is a lovely showcase, creamy and a delicious flavor. 

Salted Caramel Pecan – A nice, milky flavor, with a tanginess like buttermilk – but the flavor lacked something and took a while to hit. Pretty average. 

Candy Cane – Everything you want in candy cane ice cream – except I’d have liked more pieces mixed in. Pretty great. 

Lavender Vanilla – Not as strong as Jordan’s but I’m a sucker for lavender and definitely found this flavor delightful. 

Full disclosure: we paid $3.25 plus tax on two 4 ounce portions thanks to a coupon from the bookstore next door, The Bookstop! 

Overall thoughts: The mouthfeel on these was a bit hard, almost icy, despite the creaminess overall. The flavors were generally great though. It felt average overall, not living up to its goals, but we owe them another try on a day without a power loss! 

I considered visiting the Hub, which looked great and very hipster. But time was of the essence and I chose the Screamery as my other option.

The Screamery made my list not only due to good reviews, but because they carried vegan ice cream flavors. (Thankfully those were coconut-milk based, so I could have them without cheating on elimination diet with more dairy.)

The atmosphere at the Screamery was very family-friendly and the employee who assisted us was very friendly and laid back as he told us about the grass-fed cream, pasteurized on site, used in their ice cream. 

What we thought: 

Coconut Fudge – Ross found this one very good. It’s a nice, very dark chocolate ice cream with a good mouth feel. It isn’t the creamiest, BUT it’s a coconut milk base and gluten-free, so it’s a great option that’s quite tasty. (Pumphouse Creamery in Minneapolis is still the winner, heads and tails over others, on coconut ice cream.) 

Bourbon Brittle – This was a bit smoother and creamier than the coconut milk base; its traditional dairy ice cream. There was a bit of iciness on top. $9.73 for the two of us for their middle size – plenty but somewhat over-prices compared to what we’ve seen in other places. This flavor is very rich and sweet, starting like sugar on snow but with a darker, richer aftertaste from the bourbon. Unfortunately the brittle seemed cheap – reminiscent of baking chocolate, it was kind of chalky. 

Overall: More average than we expected given the price and fancy grass-fed dairy. I was disappointed to see ice and cheap brittle used. Like Isabella’s, it strove for a lot but didn’t quite hit the mark. Some day we want to try the ice cream nachos, which look plentiful and fun. 

I am wondering if Tucson will have an ice cream renaissance in a year or two.  Clearly there are tons of successful businesses so there’s a real passion for local ice cream. Perhaps with a bit more time the quality will improve as they figure things out. They’re all pushing natural, local, etc, but now the taste needs to get on par with cities with better ice cream scenes. As Ross said, “It seems like the tag line was more important than the ice cream.” 

Have you gotten any ice cream in Tucson? I’d love to hear about your favorite place! 

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!

Delicious Ice Cream in Denton

While wandering through the adorable and awesome college town of Denton, Texas, about an hour north of the Dallas/Fort Worth area, Ross and I stumbled on Beth Marie’s, a charming homemade ice cream parlor. We each scooped up three flavors for a total of $9.40 before tip, and although it wasn’t life-changing, it was very tasty. 

Ross’ flavors are a bit hard to report as I accidentally deleted them! I know he got Krissy’s French Toast and reported that it was a very satisfying flavor I would love. There was also Butter Brickle that he enjoyed. And according to my limited notes., the third flavor had a creamy, milky base that was very good but didn’t break the mold. 

Luckily, my flavors weren’t accidentally deleted! 

Salty Dog – This was a dulce de leche base with salted caramel. The caramel was delightful! This is a super solid flavor with good consistency, especially considering it’s premium, not super-premium, ice cream. It wasn’t too sweet either. 

Dark Side Mint – This is a very dark chocolate base, with a touch of mint, with York peppermint patties. The base is rich and deep. Overall the texture is a little rough, but I liked it. 

Bee’s Knees – This is a lavender base with honey. I found it gentle and buttery and lovely. But I love lavender, so your mileage may vary. Ross said “It tastes the way expensive soap smells”!

We found Beth Marie’s affordable, beautiful and charming. It’s a perfect fit for the circle in downtown Denton. I wouldn’t call it a destination necessarily, but it’s an excellent stop while you’re in town to visit the amazing bookstore, comics shop and everything else Denton has to offer.

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!