In Praise of a Store Brand

Just a quick note, today. I love finding homemade ice cream in my travels. Going out for ice cream is literally one of my favorite things. But my budget and my waistline don’t allow me to go out every day. And much as I may try to convince myself to make other choices, I just love having ice cream every night, so I usually do.

I have a lot of favorite ice cream brands, including Tillamook, Gifford’s and Breyer’s. But I’ve really been enjoying trying store brands! It’s an easy way to save money, and often it’s really good too!

At Walmart, of all places, we discovered the tastiness of the cheekily named Hashtag Chocolate. And at King Soopers/Kroger’s, we’ve found that while their peppermint and mint ice creams aren’t worth the time of day, their chocolate-based ice creams, of all sorts, have really knocked it out of the park. Be sure to try French Silk – it’s outrageously indulgent. On the East Coast, we’ve always enjoyed Hannaford ice cream and frozen yogurt.

I’d love some insight into which companies make store brands for the respective stores. I’m quite curious, and I wonder if it varies by flavor.

Also, pro tip: if you’re prone to eating too much ice cream, get some adorable tiny ice cream bowls. That way you can stuff them to the brim and feel indulgent.

Do you ever get store brand ice cream? And do you have any favorites to share?

Return to Sweet Cow

I don’t often give a second review to a place, but there’s an exception to every rule, right? Honestly, I’m not revoking my original review by any means. But my husband and I were in Boulder, Colorado and he wanted to return to Sweet Cow (rather than Glacier, which was our overall favorite in Boulder), and since I’d already returned to Glacier, I was happy for an excuse to visit Sweet Cow. Sweet Cow, Boulder, CO | In Search of a Scoop

We went to a different location than last time (not quite as large but with the same awesome merchandise), and we tried several new to us flavors. Here’s what we sampled: Sweet Cow, Boulder, CO | In Search of a Scoop

Hammonds Peppermint Bark – This was delicious and would be an awesome winter flavor. Peppermint was on pointe here, and the giant chunks of chocolate and white chocolate are high quality and very tasty. I’m not sure it all came together as one, particularly, but if you like peppermint and chocolate, there’s nothing to complain about here. It’s very tasty.

Bourbon Corn Flake – Obviously this has gluten in it, so only Ross tried it. He really enjoyed it. The bourbon flavor is subtle, but he found the cornflake texture to be somewhere in between soggy and crispy, and thought that was just right. Sweet Cow, Boulder, CO | In Search of a Scoop

Comida Horchata – Based on the drink, popular in Spain and Latin-American countries, this is rice-based with almonds and cinnamon and it was truly delightful. Ice cream texture was super creamy, basically perfect, and both Ross and I loved it and got a scoop. It was also surprisingly refreshing for summer – I would have imagined it would be heavier somehow.

Pica’s Watermelon Sorbet – I don’t know who Pica is, and I didn’t think to ask. But Boulder has a Mexican restaurant and if it’s the same Pica, I need to go there. This sorbet is so good! Keep in mind that I love watermelon, but Ross only likes artificial watermelon flavor (he thinks the fruit is too bland), and he actually loved this too. I found it to be a heightened, real watermelon taste. It’s so great! It’s a truly excellent texture for a sorbet, and it’s ridiculously refreshing. I got a scoop, which almost never happens when I’ve got real ice cream flavors to choose from!

Boulder is so lucky to have several great ice cream options. Homemade ice cream is the best, and you will do very well at Sweet Cow. This go around, the consistency was better than last time, so it does seem to vary somewhat from flavor to flavor.

Have you tried Sweet Cow? If you missed my first review, it’s here. And you may also enjoy reading about Glacier or Heifer and the Hen in Boulder.

A Quick Trip For Custard

As you know, I’m all about the ice cream, but the extra creaminess (due to the eggs) of custard is tough to resist.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve made two visits to local chain Good Times Burgers & Frozen Custard here in Fort Collins. I highly recommend it!Good Times Burgers and Frozen Custard, Fort Collins, CO | In Search of a Scoop

First off, I don’t review burgers. But this West Coast burger was delicious, with the perfect amount of melty cheese, tasty beef patties, sauce and all well-wrapped in lettuce since I don’t do gluten. In my memory, it stands up to the best of fast food burger options.

But I bet you’re wondering how the custard was? Of course.Good Times Burgers and Frozen Custard, Fort Collins, CO | In Search of a Scoop

I’ve had it two ways. The first time, I had the custard (it’s vanilla of course) and I had hot fudge on top. The second time, I had hot fudge mixed in. Both ways are delicious. I’m especially fond of the latter – it’s like an even more indulgent version of a chocolate shake. Or if you just stir a hot fudge sundae a lot. (It’s so good that I can almost forget how hard it is to get good hard ice cream here!) Can you tell I enjoy hot fudge? Does anyone not, actually? Good Times Burgers and Frozen Custard, Fort Collins, CO | In Search of a Scoop

Good Times is delightful fast food. Maybe it’s like Dairy Queen with better sourced food and less grease. Yum!

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Robin’s Nest in House of Windsor, CO

Do you ever have a day where, despite every attempt, you’re just off? Things don’t go as expected, you can’t stay calm and happy despite a wonderful and fun day….this Wednesday I had one of those days. My husband and I had set out to explore a nearby town in Colorado, and as part of our adventuring, he had done his due diligence to find us a place to get ice cream during the visit.

When he told me about it (it sounded like a very cute diner), I was sorry to inform him that I’d already researched it and the ice cream wasn’t homemade. But, I’d heard good reviews, and I was happy to stop in anyway.

When we arrived, my awkward headspace combined with the lackluster ice cream offerings (but great other offerings) and my husband, seeing my disappointment, said hey, would you rather go somewhere else? Let’s go somewhere else. I apologized and we left.

Thank goodness that when I plugged in ice cream for a stop on the way home, I ran into Robin’s Nest at House of Windsor in Windsor, Colorado. Although my research told me they get their ice cream elsewhere too (in this case, Longview Creamery), I was delighted to walk in and see a truly charming space that combines the feel of a cafe with the feel of a diner. The staff was friendly and flexible, and although I had to have my banana split without the banana (yup – they ran out), I still enjoyed my treat, as did my husband. Here’s what we got:Brickle-ish shake, Robin's Nest, Windsor, CO | In search of a scoop

Brickleish – This is really tasty. It’s their version of butter beer, basically, with hints of butterscotch. I think it would make a neat alternative to a coffee ice cream. Ross had his in a sundae, and I had mine as part of my sundae.

Sirius Chocolate – This is a classic light chocolate ice cream. There’s almost a grainy or malt feel to it, but I’m embarrassed to say that because the ice cream is super smooth and consistent…so I’m not sure how else to describe it, but trust me that it’s very good! It would make an excellent milkshake base. I had a scoop in a sundae.

Bing Cherry – This was my least favorite, but if you dig cherry maybe you’d like it more? I think the cherries must be preserved, and I wasn’t as fond as I’d hoped of the almost candied flavor…but the texture of the cherries was perfectly preserved and the base was delicious. It’s perfect to pair with hot fudge.

I skipped the nuts and, of course, the banana, on my banana split. They carried 11 flavors while I was there, and past experience tells me that mint chocolate chip is also a great choice from Longview Creamery.No banana split, Robin’s nest, Windsor, CO | In Search of a Scoops

The diner serves real food as well, with a bakery case with at least one gluten-free treat generally in stock. It was a great place to visit, and we’ll happily return when we’re back in town.

Thanks for saving the day, Robin’s Nest at House of Windsor!

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

Five Places For Amazing Chocolate Ice Cream

I love unique ice cream flavors, as you may know, but when it comes to classic ice cream flavors, chocolate is hard to beat. I will often try chocolate ice cream at a new place and use it as my quality reference: if they can’t do chocolate, they probably can’t do anything else either.

Here are some of my favorite places for delicious chocolate ice cream!

Pumphouse Creamery, Minneapolis, MN

If you’re looking for a great cup or pint in Minneapolis, you should run, not walk, to Pumphouse Creamery. Not only is this stuff the creamiest and most flavorful around, but it’s actually their dairy-free, coconut milk-based chocolate ice cream that completely blew my mind! Super smooth, kind of a Dutch chocolate, and you’d never know this was dairy-free. While you’re there, eat every other flavor you can get your hands on, especially their cinnamon trio.

Pumphouse Creamery, Minneapolis, MN | In Search of a Scoop

Pumphouse Creamery, Minneapolis, MN

Jeni’s, Charleston, SC

You can of course visit Jeni’s in a variety of locations across the country. And you should. But I can personally attest that the Darkest Chocolate flavor at Jeni’s is rich and well worth a scoop. Their other chocolate options were tasty, but this one is truly memorable.

Emack & Bolio’s, Albany, NY

Emack also has other locations across the country (and the world) but it was in their Albany location that their Chocolate Moose ice cream blew my mind. I highly recommend this, their Pumpkin, and everything else you can fit in the bowl.

Gelato Fiasco, Brunswick, ME

Okay, it isn’t technically ice cream, but their Dark Chocolate Sea Salt is one of the best chocolates I’ve tasted. They also have several other locations, including a new one in Florida. This is dark, rich and the sea salt makes it pop. Honorable mention goes to Gelato & aMore in Fort Collins, CO for their own chocolate gelato.

Gelato Fiasco, Brunswick, ME | In Search of a Scoop

So many flavors from Gelato Fiasco in Brunswick, ME, including their Dark Chocolate Sea Salt.

L’Artisan des Glaces, Epcot (France Pavilion), Kissimmee, FL

This chocolate is perfect and perfectly delightful, especially when you pair it with their (best I’ve ever had) mint chocolate ice cream. Only catch? If you include the cost of admission into Epcot, it’s the most expensive one on this list. But if you’re visiting Disney World, do yourself a favor and go here. Honorable mention goes to Ample Hills (which has a location on the Boardwalk and therefore doesn’t require park admission) for their Dark Chocolate flavor.

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

The Taste of Sweet Action in Denver, CO

On a recent trip to Denver, I knew I needed to get some delicious homemade ice cream, but I had an unusual dilemma; there were too many choices! I had to weave through about a dozen different options to discern which one might be both delicious and relatively near my route. I left many options for next time, but I’m so glad I went with Sweet Action for my first ice cream in Denver.Sweet Action, Denver, CO | In Search of a Scoop

It was a charming location in very walkable part of downtown. There’s a giant window that opens to the outside, sort of like a garage door, and that offers window seating with some shade and an inviting display for passing pedestrians.

I tried tons of flavors, as usual, and the super-nice staff member assisting me assured me that I could try every single flavor if I wanted to! Here’s what I tried:Sweet Action, Denver, CO | In Search of a Scoop

Brown Butter Sage – This hits you first with the flavor or brown butter, creamy and subtle. Afterward, the sage comes in, and it’s fabulous. I apparently love sage! I knew I enjoyed it, but this definitely made me happy. Must love sage to enjoy this one!

Green Apple Peanut Butter Swirl – I thought this sounded bizarre, but I’m sure glad I went for it! It’s kind of a classic green apple candy flavor rather than necessarily the real thing (or maybe the real thing does taste like that when it’s concentrated), but this is super bright and fun. The peanut butter is just as you’d expect and hope for too. When you think about it, who doesn’t love apples and peanut butter as a snack? The creamy green apple base is refreshing and it tastes indulgent with the rich peanut butter. The staff person working with me said this was her favorite gluten-free flavor, currently.

Vegan Blueberry – Their vegan ice creams (they have several) mix coconut and soy for the base. It’s pretty creamy, but you can definitely taste the coconut in there. I enjoyed it for a nice summer flavor.

Sweet Action, Denver, CO | In Search of a ScoopHorchata – This is a frozen version of the Mexican drink, which includes almond milk as its base. It’s just as tasty as the real stuff! Fun idea.

Salted Butterscotch – The butterscotch is strong here. I wonder if it could have had a touch more salt, or maybe something else? It’s tasty, but it felt a bit one note to me.

Lavender Goat Cheese – I don’t think this ice cream is quite as creamy as the Green Apple Peanut Butter Swirl, but that’s okay; it reminded me of the texture of actual goat cheese! The lavender is a bit subtle, and I found it got lost here. The goat cheese is fabulous. It goes well with the other flavors, I just think you’ll be bummed if you’re a huge lavender fan that it gets lost. Maybe don’t combine this one with other flavors like I did.

Strawberry Balsamic – This is a gorgeous flavor, beautifully mixing savory and sweet, genuine strawberry flavor, perhaps from jam or some sort of similar reduction. It’s almost like strawberry ice cream with chocolate sauce! It’s so good and deliciously satisfying. It’s like a sundae in itself! If I can recommend anything for when you visit, I’d recommend you get this if it’s in stock.

Portions here felt decently generous. Maybe my large would be more like a medium elsewhere, but this triple scoop felt affordable given the crazy flavors – plus, in a bit city, I’d always expect a bit of a mark up for higher rents and such. Overall, this ice cream is very creamy and the flavors are creative and fun. I had an absolute blast trying the combinations, and the ice cream itself was very satisfying, probably the most well-executed “weird” flavors I’ve had in Colorado so far.

I definitely recommend Sweet Action! I’m also looking forward to returning to Denver to try some additional flavors. I also just learned that Little Man ice cream (of Denver) is opening a new location in Fort Collins this fall! I really, really hope they’ll be open before we leave the state, but either way, I hope it’s a big success and Fort Collins will have a new, delicious homemade ice cream option when I return. Fingers crossed!

If you enjoyed this article about ice cream in Denver, you might enjoy reading about my epic adventures in Tampa, including goat cheese habenero ice cream at Revolution, or you might want the scoop on the middle-of-nowhere Sandwich Creamery in New Hampshire.

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

Striving for Scrumptious in Longmont, CO

As I’ve been documenting, there’s a lack of great homemade ice cream in Fort Collins, CO and the surrounding area. In search of some, I eagerly drove to Longmont (one of our favorite towns currently) to try Scrumptious, a local ice cream place that also carries ice cream in the Denver area.

I went in full of hope, and the place itself is really cute. My favorite thing was all of the spectacular artwork hanging on the walls – and yes, it’s for sale.

Unfortunately the service was really subpar during our visit. One of the employees was visibly showing her annoyance as we decided what we wanted and asked for a few samples. A second employee also contributed to the feeling that they would rather not be serving us. Because of the service, we felt rushed and unwanted, honestly. The sign also said that you can only try two flavors. Seriously? I usually try at least four or five before choosing. It made me order less than I would have otherwise – who wants to just name a third flavor and hope it’s okay? I did ultimately choose one blind though.

Here’s what we thought, flavor by flavor. I’m sorry we couldn’t try more of them. Scrumptious, Longmont, CO | In Search of a Scoop

Mint Chip – This tastes like toothpaste with chocolate chips. Surprisingly, it’s not the worst mint chip I’ve had. But skip this.

Blackberry Ginger – I found this kind of subtle and a really nice combination of flavors. It’s very creamy. It had a stronger flavor than Walrus in Fort Collins, but I still think I’d enjoy it more if it was a bit stronger or brighter. Perhaps it wasn’t really enough of either flavor? Maybe having one more prominent would have made it better?

Chocolate – This is extraordinarily smooth. It’s like a classic chocolate pudding in texture and definitely in flavor. I found it refreshing and different. Ross found it weird. Scrumptious, Longmont, CO | In Search of a Scoop

Whisky – This is very creamy and tastes like whiskey, but it’s very subtle. I’d enjoy caramel or toffee with it, but they don’t do toppings here. I enjoy it, and it has a great texture, but it could use stronger flavors. When the bottom gets melts, it tastes like a Bailey’s liquor…it was Ross’ favorite part. It would make an amazing shake. It would be great with chocolate sauce too.

This place is trying very hard to be different. And maybe a little snooty. I realized during this visit that the attitude of the employees had an overly large role in determining my feeling about the ice cream, much as I try to taste impartially.

The portions here are very large. You have to get a medium if you want two scoops, and it’s really pretty huge, though it goes down easily.

In addition to wishing they didn’t act so impatient, I could have used more flavor and less subtlety.

And toppings would be nice.

One other fun thing? They have a mystery flavor with whatever they throw in that week. Not for those of us with food sensitivities, of course! They do offer shakes, a giant ice cream sandwich and ice cream sliders. All of which sound fun.

Nothing we’ve had in Colorado has beaten out Glacier so far. And I just visited Walrus a third time, confirming it’s less than exciting to me. But the employee are nice!

Have you had any great ice cream lately? And what did you think of my recent three part series on Boulder ice cream?

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