The Worst Ice Cream in North Carolina? 

I try not to be a negative Nellie on this blog. I love ice cream and I appreciate how relatively easy it is to come by, even homemade, in most places, and I don’t want to dissuade those who make it or sell it with negative reviews. 

That being said, ice cream isn’t always good. Sometimes, it’s awful. And I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t report it to you. 

After visiting two delightful ice cream locations on the Outer Banks named Scoops this summer, I was hoping Mocksville, NC, which proved to have a cute little downtown, would also hold a delicious ice cream option with the name Scoops

They carry Mooresville premium ice cream, according to the signage, which was labeled as either “Deluxe” or “Front Porch” depending on the flavor. Even though they don’t make the ice cream in house, I was happy to review a North Carolina-made ice cream. 

The signs didn’t bode well for this place. They had some signage that I found offensive, and they didn’t have a list of flavors anywhere – you had to walk the gigantic counter the length of the long store to see all of the offerings. That meant walking within a few feet of each table, where I felt people staring us down as I tried to make my decision. 

The prices are really cheap. Crazily so. I paid $3 with tax for one scoop, which would have easily been two anywhere else. 

They didn’t offer any samples, although I didn’t ask, so I settled on Peppermint Moose Tracks, which sounded like the perfect “me” flavor. Peppermint ice cream with white chocolate chunks and that amazing fudge swirl you find in moose tracks. 

I wish I’d tried other flavors so I would know if they all tasted like this one. I’m sorry for that. And if it turns out Mooresville is usually really good, let me know and I will try it again somewhere else! 

Unfortunately, this was disgusting. It has a weird base note that reminds me of sour milk. The chalk was very chalky. And the peppermint just doesn’t work here – it was barely recognizable as peppermint. It wasn’t well-blended in the base. I couldn’t eat more than 5 or 6 bites, and left to myself, I would have thrown the rest away. It was that awful. I’ve only done that once in my life, I believe. (Coldstone mint chocolate chip. Still not my favorite, but the first batch I ever had was just disgusting.)

Ross, my husband, said this wasn’t very good. It was like ice cream that had sat open in a freezer for a year and then was put in the counter for forty five minutes before serving. He did like the white chocolate chunks though, for texture. He called this the flat soda of peppermint ice cream. 

Despite how gross it was, Ross was happy to finish eating it. I, on the other hand, visited the closest gas station for Breyer’s vanilla, which I topped with chocolate chips. Anything to wash the weird taste and disappointment out of my mouth. 

Don’t ever go to Scoops in Mocksville. It was wrong on so many levels. But if you’ve had Mooresville ice cream, did you like it? Did we just get last year’s batch or something? The flavor isn’t even on their website. 

Thanks for reading, and I hope you find something delicious today! 

Hopkins Farm Creamery in Delaware

On a recent trip through Delaware, I wanted to experience what the local dairies had to offer for ice cream. Hopkins Farm Creamery has won local awards and offered a gluten-free menu, so they seemed like a great place to visit. 

Their ice cream stand placement and design is interesting – you begin by ordering from one section, and then you’re assigned a letter where your number will be called in another section. I’m sure it’s designed to streamline crowds, but it felt a little bit impersonal. We were also surprised to see how close the dairy cows were kept to each other. But we came for ice cream, and I was thrilled with the long list of flavors, including some with local fruit (reminding me of Cows Creamery). 

Visitor’s should note that they only allow one flavor per scoop. Keep that in mind as you make your decisions. 

Here’s what we decided on!

Chocolate – This is super smooth, almost a fudge-like Dutch chocolate. Yum. 

Cow Pie – Same chocolate base as above, with peanut butter cups and a peanut butter swirl. Very tasty. I wouldn’t have minded more peanut butter though. And having homemade peanut butter cups (or at least higher quality ones) would have enhanced this further. 

Cappuccino Delight – It’s like coffee ice cream, but stronger, and with heath bars. Excellent – strong and smooth with great chips. This cappuccino delight is delightful!

The portions here are pricy for what you get, unfortunately, so be prepared. The evening we were there, the crowds seemed to have an attitude, and so did all of the employees but one, who did seem happy as she took our money. 

Be prepared for a strong manure smell. It’s pretty overpowering, worse than any dairy I have been to. 

Their seasonal flavor looked delicious – Delaware Fruit has local peaches and blueberries in it. 

Hopkins Farm Creamery has very tasty ice cream. The overall experience wasn’t our favorite, but we will be happy to give it another try when we are in town. It’s very good!

Jeni’s

I have always heard amazing things about Jeni’s ice cream, including that they use a unique process to make their delicious ice cream (they describe it as having a buttercream body). I had never had the opportunity to try it for myself. Until Charleston. 

My husband and I stopped our RV in Charleston for a few hours to explore, and in my wanderings, I stumbled upon some ice cream. The reviews said it was overpriced, but a quick google search told me there were other ice cream shops nearby too – including Jeni’s! My decision made, I headed to Jeni’s. Although the line layout wasn’t super-clear, the service was excellent. I noted that the prices were on the higher side, but they were typical for a city like Charleston…and of course you pay more for quality.The scoops were small but satisfying. If you’re hungry, I’d suggest getting the trio for $6. The ice cream is delicious and clearly uses very high-quality ingredients. 

Milky chocolate: A rather simple but delicious flavor. 

Salty caramel: Prominent salt, with cream and caramel…a very fun flavor

Darkest chocolate: She told me this is 99% cacao butter! It’s amazing, like an intense dark brownie batter but with plenty of sweet too. This is the perfect balance for chocolate connoisseurs. In the running for the best I’ve had, for sure! 

Two small scoops ran me $6 total. They throw a waffle crisp thing on top which was outrageously full of flavor. 

I highly recommend Jeni’s, particularly their Charleston location. They also ship nationwide! 

Mission Accomplished in Milford

In an effort to save money (and save a bit of sanity as well), I’ve been cutting back on my discretionary spending this spring – which for me means seeing a lot less theater than usual. So last weekend, I made plans to usher for a theater production in Milford, New Hampshire. I’d never seen Noises Off before and it’s one of those shows that everybody seems to know and love, so I thought it was about time.

I don’t get out to Milford often anymore – I have lived in Windham, Londonderry and Manchester in the past, but currently there isn’t a reason to head that way – so I knew I should try to fit in an ice cream trip while I was in the area. In fact, I could make ice cream dinner (with an apple for health, of course) and allow myself a few extra calories.

I did a quick search and was reminded that Hayward’s has a Milford location – even though that shouldn’t have surprised me, I’ve only been to the Milford location once, so I always associate Hayward’s with Nashua. I knew for a fact that their Nashua location had opened, but I wasn’t sure about Milford….but I was running ahead of schedule, so I had time to check and abort if it actually was closed.

IMG_1988Lucky for me and the Milford area, they were indeed open, with a special Lucky Charms flavor for St. Patrick’s day too! Despite temperatures in their 30s and talk of snow the next day, I could absolutely get my homemade ice cream fix.

I knew I would allow myself two flavors today – I went with Coffee Oreo (for either a real or imagined caffeine kick, not knowing if it contained any) and the Caramel Tsunami, which was a caramel based ice cream with chocolate covered caramels and a caramel swirl. IMG_1989Coming to just under $4 for two flavors, it was a very generous portion – and they gave me a huge spoonful of Lucky Charms ice cream to sample at my request. It was research, of course! Green vanilla ice cream with lucky charms and an Oreo cream swirl.

The report:

Lucky Charms – I kind of liked the mushy lucky charms in the ice cream! The Oreo swirl was a delight. This was a very pleasant couple of bites. Not my favorite ice cream ever, but for a one time thing, very fun. I was pleasantly surprised.

IMG_1996Caramel Tsunami – The caramel ice cream base unfortunately wasn’t my favorite. I’m really not sure why. I loved the caramel swirl, it tasted like it was high quality, and the chocolate covered caramels were really to die for, just incredible. That being said, the more I ate it, the more the caramel flavor of the ice cream grew on me. Although it wasn’t my favorite in isolation, it sure worked as a vehicle for the swirl and chocolates!

Coffee Oreo – Such a classic. A smooth, strong coffee flavor – it tastes like real coffee. Not all coffees do! It’s not too heavy or too sweet. I am a huge fan of Oreo ice creams and this one definitely didn’t disappoint, I’d happily order it again! IMG_1993

I wanted to give a report on the state of seasonal ice cream in New Hampshire currently. Can you comment with your own additions?

As we’ve discussed, Arnie’s Place in Concord is open for the season.

Cremeland in Manchester opened on March 14 for the season.

Hayward’s is clearly open as I just visited! You can visit Milford or Nashua.

Mack’s Apples in Londonderry – their ice cream stand will open April 28th.

Meadow Ice Cream in Littleton (serving Slick’s) is open for ice cream and seafood.

Know of any other seasonal places that have opened for the season? Have any other opening dates to share? Please leave a comment below, and thanks!

p.s. Thanks for doing your usual Amazon shopping using my affiliate link!

 

Catching Carnies at Arnie’s

The best place to catch carnies (that’s a slang term for carnival workers) is probably at a carnival, but NH isn’t known for its winter carnivals. So instead, I headed to Arnie’s Place.IMG_9528

Actually, I didn’t really need a carnie, although it would have made for a good story. I just wanted a clever rhyme in my title today. But I DID visit Arnie’s Place in Concord, NH for their opening weekend, and I am happy to report that it was as awesome as I remembered.

I have to confess that for someone who grew up in NH, I am very late to the Arnie’s bandwagon. I had heard good things about them previously, but last season was my first time visiting. It’s a place that lives up to the local hype. Delicious homemade ice cream, including hard ice cream, frozen yogurt and soft serve in chocolate, vanilla and maple. And that doesn’t even get into their BBQ and other real food, which I have enjoyed although I am definitely not an expert on their other foods. I visited twice last year, enjoying their delicious maple soft serve (probably in the same ballpark as the creemee I enjoyed last week) as well as some hard ice cream and yogurt.

When I heard that Arnie’s was opening for the season (in February, no less!) I knew I should visit and contribute a few dollars toward the homemade ice cream in February cause. So Ross, my husband, and I stopped by on Sunday.

Ross reminded me that the worst thing about Arnie’s is definitely the location. It’s on Loudon Rd. a busy commercial street that isn’t particularly clean or welcoming. But its adorable exterior would be perfectly suited to a small town location or a beach setting. So when I visit, I like to imagine it’s in a nicer spot. Mind over matter, I guess? At least the parking is plentiful!

Arnie’s has both indoor and outdoor ordering and seating, at least in season, and they keep a fridge stocked with ice cream cakes and treats in a corner. I will of course focus my attention on their ice cream-related products since that’s what this blog is about.

IMG_9540Their menu is extensive, and in addition to a regular list of flavors, sundaes and other treats (including an extensive list of shakes), they have a flurry of the week. Their flurry this week sounded fantastic to me- but I am really not a fan of nuts in ice cream, so I decided to skip the awesomeness: maple soft serve with pecans, shortbread cookies and a chocolate dip!

Thanks to a recent blog by my friend Theresa, I was reminded that chocolate chili chunk is one of their signature flavors…and since I had never had that flavor, that seemed like an obvious choice. Ross got a kiddie – one good size scoop. I was afraid that the chili kick might get too intense over time, so I used it as an excuse to get two flavors – I settled on peppermint stick after trying the white chocolate, which was a little too subtle for my taste and purpose.

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Ross and I were really impressed with the chocolate chili chunk. The chocolate base is super smooth and a classic chocolate flavor, with good size bites of chocolate chunks. But after you get the rich creamy chocolate flavor, the aftertaste is a large dose of chili. It’s awesome! Sweet and smooth followed by the chili kick. It’s amazing to me that it happens with every bite too. The chocolate base clears the chili, and then the chili is back with a vengeance. So good.

And if you aren’t convinced, I can confirm that peppermint stick is a PERFECT compliment to the chocolate chili chunk. This is an excellent peppermint base – it’s the most real peppermint flavor I have ever tasted! Minty coolness alternating with the chili is awesome, and we all know that chocolate and peppermint is a good combo. One of the best choices I made this month. 🙂

So, even if you won’t find any carnies at Arnie’s, I highly recommend a visit, whether you’re in the mood for maple soft serve, hard ice cream, a flurry or something else entirely. If you’re local, it’s probably worth buying a t-shirt too – you get 1/2 off a cone or dish whenever you wear it there, and with the way I eat ice cream, that would pay for itself easily in a summer! Support this delicious homemade ice cream place and the fact that they open so early in the season.

(p.s. Thanks for reading & supporting the blog by spreading the word and using our Amazon banner. And keep those comments coming!)

In Search of Maple Creemees

Although people in New Hampshire and most other parts of our country would give you a very strange look if you ordered a “creemee”, in Vermont, this is just the term for soft serve ice cream. In fact, the original “creemees” had a higher fat content than regular soft serve, making them extra creamy, according to that illustrious source of all information, Urban Dictionary.

This weekend I had the absolute pleasure of traveling to Randolph, VT (to the Chandler Center for the Arts) as a part of Not Your Mom’s Musical Theater’s tour of The Musical of Musicals: The Musical!. While traveling with my husband from NH to VT, we knew we had extra time to kill, so I was on the lookout for a fun diversion. When I saw the sign for Bragg Farm Sugarhouse & Gift Shop up ahead as we drove through East Montpelier, memories flooded back of last winter, when I followed a sign on a whim and enjoyed sugar on snow and a lot of other tasty treats during maple sugaring season at Bragg Farm. So I told Ross I’d found our adventure and to make a right for the sugarhouse.

When we pulled in, we saw lots of signs for creemees – in chocolate and, more importantly, maple. I instantly knew I’d made the right decision. Where else would we be able to get homemade soft serve in February, after all? IMG_9074

After a quick photo, we headed inside, where the sheer amount of maple products on offer again confirmed I’d made the right call. Ross had never visited Bragg Farm and I was looking forward to a second peek. One of the owners graciously showed us where “the magic happens” – this is an old-fashioned sugarhouse and they use buckets on trees to tap the syrup – and then she invited us to sample all of the different maple grades. Don’t mind if we do, thanks! IMG_9065

We started with the lightest and mildest of the maple syrups, working our way counter clockwise until concluding with the darkest, richest flavor, formerly known as Grade B syrup. All of it was delightful, with our favorite of course being the strongest of the syrups.

After sampling the syrups and a few of the other offerings (including jams and sauces), we headed toward the creemees. I was slightly nervous that the offerings might be seasonal, but I held out hope because the temporary signs by the road indicated creemees were still on offer.

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When I looked up, one of the owners noticed me looking at the signs – ice cream sundaes and different creemee sizes and options were displayed. When he asked if we needed a creemee, I relaxed and smiled and put in my order – a small maple creemee in a cup. My husband Ross got the same, but in a cone, allowing for a much nicer photo op.

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The maple soft serve ice cream, or creemee, is the perfect vehicle for Bragg Farm’s excellent maple syrup. The texture is perfect, smooth and creamy, with a definite maple flavor throughout that doesn’t get lost in the ice cream. It’s really, really pleasant – never grainy or watery or inconsistent.

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After enjoying our fantastic treats and admiring the view, we headed back to the counter and thanked the owners. They confirmed the creemees are made on the premises by adding their own darkest syrup to a local dairy ice cream base. The fact that the sugarhouse is open year-round makes this a must stop, and it’s cheap too! We only paid $2.25 for our small, which was a great portion and not the smallest size on the menu. Bring cash as there is a $10 minimum for credit and debit cards, although that would be easy to meet by purchasing another maple product or two.

(As a note, I imagine that there are better maple soft serve flavors out there – using maple syrup in the base could strengthen the flavor, at least in theory. But I am happy that I can highly recommend this without any qualms, probably in no small part due to the excellent local dairy base in addition to the fantastic syrup.)

According to their website, the family has been producing Vermont maple syrup for eight generations! If you can’t make it to the sugarhouse for a visit, they have lots of great gifts and products available on their website. There really is no excuse to skip a visit when you’re passing through – they are open at 8:30 a.m. every day and close at 6 p.m. – and from June – August, they stay open until 8 p.m.! They also have a lot of other educational offerings you can incorporate into your visit, including a few animals to meet, a free guided tour, a video and much more according to their site. Friday – Sunday, 12-5 p.m., from March – mid-April is the time to experience their Sugar – on – Snow – a must try.

Have you visited Bragg Farm? If not, have you gotten to experience the joy of maple soft serve elsewhere? I know that Meadow Ice Cream in Littleton (which carries Slick’s) & Slick’s in Woodsville carries some. I honestly feel like if you have the chance to get maple soft serve (homemade) and you don’t, you’re probably doing something wrong. At least the New York Post seems to agree with me!

Thanks so much for reading. (And thank you also to those of you making purchases through my Amazon link!) Stay warm out there!

Destination Disney World

Q: What’s better than going to Disney World?

A: A free trip to Disney World – or at least free housing and park tickets.

Q: What’s better than a free trip to Disney World?

A: A free trip to Disney World where you make it your goal to eat great ice cream!

Well, clearly we know what I set out to do on this trip. First, the quick backstory if you didn’t deduce it above – my husband’s sister and her husband, as our wedding present, paid for our hotel and park tickets for a week-long adventure at Disney World. Ross, my husband, had never been before, and I had only been for a couple of day trips, so we were ridiculously excited.

Being the planner that I am, I handled the reservations and did FAR too much research to know where and when would make the best use of our time and money – and feed our interests (and bodies) in the best way possible. It’s amazing how many Disney boards there are online that one can spend days visiting. But I digress.

Of course, I also started In Search of a Scoop only a week or so prior to leaving, so I knew one of my goals needed to be to take good photos of ice cream. Well, at least photos. 🙂

So, first of all, if you want to get live updates on ice cream occasionally, be sure to follow me on Facebook. I’ve gotten some great recommendations for future visits there (as well as here – thanks to all who commented!) and I shared a couple of photos of ice cream (including a ridiculous sign) while I was at Disney. You can expect me to indulge in an occasional live update there (and eventually Instagram when I get that rolling) in the future.

But now, I need to get into what you’ve all been waiting for…

How was the ice cream?

Pinkberry – Orlando International Airport IMG_2234

I’ll start with Pinkberry at the airport. My prior experience with Pinkberry previously in NYC was absolute raves, for pear and for pumpkin. Unfortunately when they stepped away from these tangier fruit and such flavors, the vanilla and the chocolate hazelnut at the airport were nothing to write home about.

The vanilla had the requisite vanilla bean-esque flavor, and the chocolate hazelnut was also tasty, but they were far too watery and you definitely missed the fat – they didn’t hide their healthy yogurt quality at all. Would we eat it again? Sure, if we really were craving soft serve. Definitely middle of the pack at best, but it’s pleasant. But if you’ve got the choice, stick to fruit flavors at Pinkberry and you’ll be much happier.

L’Artisan Des Glaces – Epcot, Walt Disney World IMG_2418

Oh my goodness. When you’ve only got five (and a half) days to see everything, and you visit the same place three times, you know they’re doing something right.

I had heard absolute raves about this place. It’s in France, of course. No seating, but it’s a gorgeous, old fashioned ice cream counter with whites and pinks. Absolutely lovely. One quirky thing (which I liked) is you decide on the size, pay, and then decide on the flavor. Pretty great.

The chocolate macaron ice cream sandwich came highly recommended. Because Ross and I were planning to eat our way through Epcot, we agreed we would split it. This is insanely delightful. It’s a rich dark chocolate – not bitter, but not too sweet, which was a welcome change in a chocolate ice cream. All of the sinful creaminess you’d wish for, no ice of course, just the perfect consistency. And on either side, the chocolate macaron cookie shell, which was a little chewy and hard – that meant it held up to the ice cream and it wasn’t too cold to bite. It also wasn’t too cold to eat on a cold day. The light chocolate flavor of the macaron was the perfect contrast with the ice cream. I wouldn’t change a thing!

On our second visit, I tried vanilla with pear and chocolate – the best part was the large, juicy chunks of pear. I appreciated the flavor but it wasn’t my favorite – I wished I’d gone with something more simple, like the caramel fleur de sol that Ross chose, which was out of this world and completely smooth and consistent. So on our third and final visit of the trip, I got the caramel option while Ross went for one with nougat and nuts – he enjoyed it a lot, thought it was great, just not as good as the caramel.

So if you’re visiting, definitely get a macaron sandwich. And then the caramel. You won’t regret it!

Aloha Isle, Magic Kingdom IMG_5287

Dole Whip. That famous non-dairy, vegan delight that has an incredible cult following because it’s almost impossible to find outside of Disney. I’d never had it prior to this trip, and I was eager to give it a go. Pineapple dole whip is like soft serve ice yogurt – it doesn’t have any fat, but it isn’t watery at all – it’s a perfect consistency, and it kind of reminded me of something you’d get when you were in the mood for an awesome popsicle. It’s definitely refreshing.

The next day in Animal Kingdom, I visited Tamu Tamu Refreshments on a mission for pineapple dole whip with dark rum. (Coconut rum is also an option.) Dark was the perfect rich contrast with the pineapple of the dairy treat. I absolutely loved this sweet adult treat and recommend it when you can’t decide between dessert and a drink! (Or do what I did, and get both this and a drink! Just not at the same time.)

Intermission Court, All-Star Music Resort IMG_5445

For those not in the know, All-Star Music is at the bottom of the totem pole of Disney hotels. It would be a budget motel anywhere else. No room service (except pizza delivery), and a cafeteria instead of any fancy food options. But it really fit the bill for us! We loved it, and we had very good food the few times we tried it.

As we sought ways to pass the time in our last hour or so at the hotel, I suggested that I should really visit their gelato bar. The nice woman behind the counter read off the flavors to me (there was no sign) but one of them I just couldn’t understand. I kept hearing OO-ta-la, with the emphasis on the first syllable. Finally she just handed me a sample – and it was Nutella! Sold. Tasty hazelnut base with streaks of chocolate syrupy fudgy goodness. Best gelato ever? No. Replaces ice cream? No. But very, very tasty and I’d eat it again in a heartbeat! Probably a 7 out of 10 if we were keeping score.

Well, that’s where my Disney adventures led me. I have many more posts to come – in fact, I went to Friendly’s last night with my mom, so you can look forward to a report on what this local chain is up to – but I’ve far exceeded my word limit for today. Find some good ice cream to enjoy this winter, and I’ll talk to you soon!

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p.s. Have suggestions for how you’d like me to score these things or comment about them? Don’t hesitate to reach out. 🙂