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! 

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Dewey’s

Some quick research online told me Dewey’s, in Center Harbor, carried homemade ice cream. So my husband and I added it into our schedule. It wasn’t until we were in line that we realized they actually carry Richardson’s ice cream. And no, not the lesser-known Richardson’s in NH, but the Richardson’s in MA that you’ve probably enjoyed before.

I’d love to return here for coffee or a meal, but in the meantime, here is my review of the ice cream. It’s in an adorable location in a beautiful town, so it’s worth a visit to walk by the water and have an ice cream. And if you know of any homemade ice cream in that area that deserves a visit, please let me know!

Cake Batter – It’s a cake batter base, with cake pieces. The base almost reminds me of frosting! It’s a very bright flavor, very childlike. I enjoyed it. Doesn’t top Blake’s but it’s very good. (Blake’s throws some chocolate frosting in there that really makes it!)

Strawberry Cheesecake – It uses real strawberries, but the strawberry syrup isn’t great and tastes fake. That being said, the cheesecake is creamy and rich and awesome!

Phantom Berry – Oh my goodness. This is black raspberry ice cream with chocolate cookies. The cookies are clearly not Oreos, they are MUCH better, with a killer crunch, and brownie pieces are also included. It’s like a sundae in itself! Super sweet and so tasty. It was so good that Ross wanted to go back for another scoop! The cookies aren’t too sweet either which really helps keep all of this in proportion and not get old. They have a bit of saltiness too.

Death By Chocolate – The base isn’t too dark or too light, just classic chocolate, with great brownie pieces and a fudgy cold chocolate syrup. There is some bitterness to the base and it isn’t too sweet. It would be a fun base for chilies! The base works well so the mix-ins aren’t overkill = you can really taste all of the flavors.

Dewey’s has a great vibe and awesome seating. It would be a great place to hang out. Generally speaking Richardson’s is excellent in terms of consistency, and Phantom Berry gets one of our highest recommendations. Portions are very large, and prices are reasonable at $3.45, $4.35 and $5.25 with tax included. We spent $8.50 for the two of us. Another plus? They offered to do two different flavors in a kiddie! Super nice.

So while I wouldn’t make Dewey’s a destination because you can get Richardson’s in many places, if you’re in the area I really recommend a visit. And if you try their lunch or coffee, let me know how it is!

Thanks for reading, and have a great day.

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The Best Restaurant in Derry, NH

I don’t usually write about non-dessert items, but of course there’s always an exception to the rule. Early this summer, my husband and I were in the vicinity of Derry, NH and needed a meal.

When we’re in Derry, there isn’t really a discussion about where to go to eat. It’s not exactly a food mecca, but there are a few decent restaurants. And then there is Amphora.

Amphora was the first restaurant where we felt like family the first time we visited. I scheduled a large group gathering the night of the NH Theatre Awards a few years back, and although Amphora doesn’t normally take reservations, they allowed us to arrange for reservations for this event. I’d never been there, so I wasn’t sure what to expect except Greek food. I was delighted then and they continue to impress.

Everything is delicious and much of it is local, but they are also just ridiculously accommodating. Of people, of allergies, you name it. That first day they expressed interest in hosting a VIP night after our production of Weird Romance at the Derry Opera House. They’ve since let us host cabarets and one-woman shows there, some of them in conjunction with a fancy menu designed just for the purpose. They’re sweet, amazing people who really know how to cook.

You can’t go wrong there. Seriously, it’s all that good. And since this blog is about sweets, I especially recommend our two favorites – the baklava cheesecake (so indulgent) and the ouzo cake, with a warm licorice-flavored liquor dripped over the top.

It’s the place I will most miss when I leave New Hampshire. Don’t miss it yourself!

 

An Odd, but Delicious, Paradise Found

Sandwich Creamery is odd, for a few reasons. For one, it’s in the middle of nowhere, in a small town, down a long dirt road.

For another, it is self-serve. Yes, it’s a self-serve ice cream stand. You bring the cash and help yourself to local products and ice cream in a few sizes.

Oh, and this part isn’t odd – it’s amazing.

The prices are great – $3 small, $4 medium, $6 large. The medium is a pint. I went with two half pints, for research purposes of course. A large is a quart. I had plenty but this stuff is so good, I could have kept eating for a while.

Here’s what I chose – Ross wasn’t really hungry yet.

Muddy Mint – A chocolate mint base with pistachio and chocolate chunks. This is just outstanding. Outstanding. It has fabulous flavor, super smooth base and not too thick, just the perfect consistency. This is the perfect combo of chocolate and mint, and the mixins were diced small which was perfect.

Mexican jumping bean – A cinnamon chocolate base with chocolate covered coffee beans. Where do I begin? This is insanely delicious. You’ll feel the cinnamon in your nose – to Ross, it reminded him of a Yankee candle, but in a good way. It’s basically perfect. The chocolate was super tasty, the beans crunch and chocolatey and delicious.

In short, we are crazy about Sandwich Creamery. They have really long hours since it is self-serve. Make it a destination, bring a cooler and enjoy one of my contenders for best ice cream in New Hampshire.

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Seafood, Soft Serve and Slick’s

Meadow Ice Cream Restaurant in Littleton, NH doesn’t make their own ice cream, but I’ve always had great experiences there, so I had to share a quick post.

Sometimes, you’re in the mood for ice cream, and you go to an ice cream place. And in Littleton, Bishop’s is a solid option. Other times, you’re specifically in the mood for Slick’s ice cream, of Woodsville. But if you’re in Littleton and you don’t have the time to drive to Woodsville and back, you’ve got another option. Likewise, if you’re craving some fried seafood or a burger…and that would be Meadow Ice Cream.

This restaurant is rather unobtrusive. When I first moved to the North Country, they weren’t open, so I didn’t know what the scoop was. Turns out they are seasonal, open April-ish to October I believe. When I finally got around to trying their food, I was impressed.

I’ve gotten fried seafood here – clams are always a favorite of mine – and it’s been delicious. But I confess that what really drew me in was the sign, which often says “maple soft serve”. Yup. I had my first maple soft serve here, and it’s really fantastic. Full of flavor and creamy and perfect.

Since then, I found out about their hard ice cream, which is Slick’s. They’ve got indoor and outdoor seating too, which is definitely a step up from a food stand.

My husband and have been a few times, but we went this summer so that I could review it for you. We stuck to Slick’s ice cream this time around. It’s very affordable at $3.50 each for a medium with tax. Here’s what we got.

Strawberry Cheesecake – This is so good! Glorious crust chunks, etc. Read my full review on Slick’s here. I think this might be the best cheesecake ice cream in New Hampshire!

Cookies and Cream – Unfortunately, this one isn’t my favorite. The base is just really bland – it isn’t a distinct vanilla or anything. Personally, I want my cookies and cream base to taste like the cream in Oreos or maybe be a nice vanilla. Unfortunately while the cookies were great, the base just didn’t do it for me.

White Mountain Raspberry – This is vanilla with raspberry swirl and white chocolate chips. It’s nice, although the raspberry isn’t the best I’ve had.

Coconut Raspberry Swirl – The coconut is really fun in this!

So if you’re craving Slick’s or Seafood or maple soft serve, consider stopping by! I’ve found they always close earlier than I expect so you might want to call ahead.

Thanks for reading!

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Northland Dairy Bar

As you know, I like to report on homemade ice cream places. Northland Dairy Bar, in Berlin, NH, does not serve their own ice cream. But, they serve some fabulous flavors (tons to choose from, actually), some great American cuisine, and perhaps most importantly for me, raspberry pie.

Raspberry pie is seasonal. They’ll also do other flavors, when they’re in season. But trust me, this raspberry pie is special. So special I’ve driven over an hour for a taste. Many times.

Ross, my husband, and I knew we had to make sure we got raspberry pie this season. With our work schedules, a trip to Berlin is very out of the way – more than two hours in total of driving just for some of that pie. But it was that important to us.

And no, we didn’t get ice cream on this trip, so if you’d rather not continue reading, I do understand.

Northland Dairy Bar carries a variety of diner-esque food, from burgers to fried seafood to sandwiches and soups. Not anything exceptional, but it’s reliably tasty and affordable food. They also have some mixed drinks that sound amazing that I hope to try soon.

Ross and I knew we were getting raspberry pie. They sell two kinds – one without a pie top, and one with. You don’t want the pie crust on top. You want a little pie crust at the bottom, covered in the freshest raspberries, and perhaps some whipped cream if you feel fancy. Trust me. It’s worth the $6.99 or whatever they’re charging.

But we were hungry, and as much as we knew ice cream for dinner was the cheapest option, we felt like relaxing a bit in the air-conditioned restaurant, so we settled on a meal of cheap, real food before dessert. I went with a veggie burger (they’re very tasty) and Ross went with a reuben, I believe. We both shared a gargantuan plate of very good fries.

We had called ahead to make sure they could set aside a couple of slices of pie for us – there was no way we were driving this far only to have them run out, and they do sell out regularly.

Here’s what we made the trip for.

It’s everything you want it to be and imagine it to be. It’s so, so good. Eat it and be happy. That is all.

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Richardson’s – Not That One

When I first put Richardson’s on my list, I assumed it was the Richardson’s. The dairy based in Massachusetts that was served at ice cream stands around New England. But when I dug deeper in anticipation of our visit, I found out it WASN’T related to that Richardson’s at all! Somehow I’d missed this independent ice cream maker, even though I’ve lived within an hour of it for a very long time. They’re based in Boscawen, NH, which borders Concord.

Richardson’s is on a farm, and they sell their own fruits and vegetables, as well as local products, year-round, including their own pies, crisps and pastries . They are really in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a great place to grab your local eggs, produce and more as well as your ice cream, so it’s well-worth a trip.

Do check their hours – they’re definitely a bit unusual given the variety of products they sell, and it varies at different times of year. (You may want to call ahead to confirm.) Also, it’s a cash only business, so come prepared for that too.

In terms of seating, you’ve got a few tables and some chairs on the porch, which is nice although my husband was craving more options in the rain. I’m happy to eat ice cream anywhere though so it worked for me, and they had some comfy chairs with a nice view.

I think the one thing I really didn’t like about Richardson’s was that they wouldn’t allow me to order more than two flavors – even if I got a large. So while I sampled a lot, I had to settle on two. Portions are on the smaller side but worth it for the quality! It was $10.37 for two larges, one of them in a waffle cone, with tax.

Here’s the full report. We tried a lot of flavors!

Strawberry Rhubarb – It’s a very smooth ice cream. Unfortunately the rhubarb isn’t very distinct. I’d personally prefer to have chunks, or maybe just rhubarb ice cream solo. But if you love normal strawberry ice cream, this is a step up! (Strawberry just is not my personal preference.)

Blueberry Pie – This is absolutely amazing. Full of blueberries and not overly sweet at all. The pieces of pie crusts are fantastic!

Key Lime Pie – Wow. This flavor is perfect! It’s just like Key Lime Pie, for real. It has a great consistency and crust. And I grew up with an amazing homemade key lime pie made with juice from Florida, so I have high standards here! It’s creamy with a sourness like lemon meringue pie.

Catherine’s Passion – This ice cream has a slow release. It’s chocolate, with cinnamon and cayenne pepper. It tastes like chocolate at first  but then it’s followed by more heat and spice. It was a bit icy on top but I didn’t taste the ice thankfully. A lot of fun and flavor here.

Butter Rum Toffee – This has a butterscotch-esque sweetness and a nice rum flavor. It’s buttery, but sweeter than I expected it to be. The toffee inside is absolutely delicious!

Chocolate Peppermint Stick – What a great idea! This is chocolate ice cream with red and green peppermint pieces. I love peppermint stick and always add hot fudge – this is the best of both worlds! An awesome take on a classic.

And finally, the homemade waffle cone is very good and very sweet.

Richardson’s is truly worth a trip. At this point, it’s one of my top three contenders for best ice cream in New Hampshire! They include a variety of special flavors, offer seasonal sundaes like rhubarb and the consistency and flavor combinations are on point. I couldn’t more highly recommend a visit if you’re in southern New Hampshire. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

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