Well, it’s been a pretty good week in the world of Jamie – I hope it’s been pretty good for you too! But despite a few days with unseasonably warm temperatures, and the promise of additional seasonal ice cream places opening up soon (it sounds like Hayward’s in Nashua, NH opens this weekend!), I’m still finding it hard to enjoy February in New Hampshire.
Now of course I have lots of ways of distracting myself, and frankly having gorgeous views of the mountains is a nice consolation prize even in winter, but one of my favorite mental escapes is to occasionally think about my honeymoon, which was now about one and a half years ago, in Canada. My husband and I spent two glorious weeks driving (and mostly camping) through Prince Edward Island (Cavendish/Charlottetown) and Nova Scotia (predominantly in Cape Breton & Halifax), in July, and it was as beautiful, relaxing and life-giving as you might imagine it would be. Being me, there was of course plenty of ice cream over the course of the trip, but today I will focus on what became a theme of the honeymoon: COWS.
Ha ha, you may think – of course there were cows in PEI and Nova Scotia. But I am not speaking of merely cows here; I am speaking of COWS, the ice cream chain born in Cavendish, PEI and, according to the company, made with a secret, old-fashioned recipe that dates back to the time of Anne of Green Gables. (If you aren’t aware, Cavendish is the hub of all things Anne of Green Gables – books were set in the area, the author lived in the area, etc., and it is by far the most touristy thing happening on PEI.*)
Now, if you know me well, you know that I am always skeptical of a chain, so despite this compelling storyline when we first visited COWS (in the retail store in Cavendish, I believe), I figured, okay, at best this will be like Ben & Jerry’s. Very tasty ice cream, but nothing that changes my life or makes me stop seeking out local homemade ice cream shops over chains.
Well, sometimes Jamie is wrong. Sometimes, a chain will deliver some of the freshest ice cream, with the most incredible ingredients (local fruits and other super-high quality ingredients both local and from around the world) that you will marvel at the goodness and have a very hard time not ordering round 2 immediately.
So, from that point on, COWS was always a destination. We visited that retail store a second time. We also, of course, did the factory tour, which I believe was around $5/person but included ice cream at the end, and it was fun and definitely worth a stop if you want to learn a little bit about the making of awesome. When we visited Charlottetown (which we are absolutely in love with), COWS was a must on both days we were in town. They are open late too, which makes it a PERFECT after-show or after-dinner destination. And although much of our honeymoon that followed could have been viewed as a bit of a disappointment after COWS, we somehow survived as we enjoyed mountain and ocean views (often at the same time) in our travels.
Luckily for us, Halifax, the final stop in our destination (and a long one as we stayed for five nights ), has a COWS location, a little bit out of the way but right on the harbor. We visited at least twice, but I think it might have been three times! We remained completely enamored throughout the trip, as we tried out all of the different bases, fruits, chocolate etc. that makes up all that is COWS premium ice cream.
So, recommendations? 1 – if you’re going to visit Canada, you should probably stick to provinces that have COWS locations. Luckily for you, that number is growing. And if you happen to live in the Seattle/Portland area, you can head to Whistler, British Columbia for your COWS fix. It’s a bit of a drive (4.5 hours Seattle – Whistler) but I’m sure it’s totally worth it. You can bet I’ll do it the next time I’m in the Pacific Northwest! “Wowie Cowie” is a great flavor, as is anything with berries or anything on the menu. I also recommend picking up a four pack of raspberry cordial – it isn’t quite as good as the outrageous homemade stuff we had in PEI, but it’s the next best thing. 2 – Head over to the COWS website and be prepared to laugh your face off. In addition to their extraordinarily successful ice cream business, COWS makes a significant portion of their income from selling t-shirts that spoof popular culture. Who wouldn’t want an Orange is the Moo Black t-shirt? 3 – If you can’t enjoy COWS just yet, as I mentioned, Ben & Jerry’s is pretty great, for a chain….and if you purchase this ice cream making book while it’s on sale, you can get some homemade Ben & Jerry’s deliciousness for yourself and I get a small kickback! Heck, it’s hard to get 2 pints for $6.50, and now you’ll have a whole book of recipes.
And obviously, my biggest recommendation is that you visit PEI and Nova Scotia. Everything we wanted it to be and more, and we can’t wait to go back. But in the meantime, support your local ice cream parlors, and tell me how it goes!
*For the record, I am totally on board with all things Anne of Green Gables. I read them all as a girl and loved them (as I did all of those orphan stories of the era) and I re-read them all in anticipation of our honeymoon, where we spent multiple days visiting the places L.M. Montgomery lived and doing many of the touristy things, including a carriage ride on the beach…and not only did I get us tickets to see the musical, but I liked it so much that I also got a ticket (just for me) to see the sequel across the street!
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