The Cutest Place For a Mediocre Sundae

The Plaza Ice Cream Parlor in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is adorable. It fits into Main Street perfectly, reminiscent of an old-fashioned ice cream parlor from the early 20th Century.

But this adorable ice cream parlor doesn’t make ice cream – instead, they serve Edy’s. So I have never worried about covering it for this blog.

But this past Thanksgiving, my husband and I visited the Magic Kingdom. That’s right – I had my turkey dinner (an oversized turkey leg) with homemade, gluten-free stuffing and cranberry sauce. For dessert, I wasn’t thrilled with any of the options (Dole Whip is good, but I wasn’t in a pineapple mood) so I decided I’d try a special sundae at the Plaza.

There are fairly limited options at the Plaza, overall. Limited flavors, and limited toppings, as well as limited sundae types. They don’t even carry sprinkles (perhaps to avoid the mess?) but they were willing to give out extra cherries to customers who thought to ask. Prices here are on the high side compared to a typical ice cream place, but of course that’s to be expected at Disney World.

I settled on the All-American sundae. It had vanilla and chocolate ice creams, hot fudge, whipped cream, a cherry and what’s referred to as “peanut butter drizzle”. It’s a beautiful-looking sundae. People were stopping me in the parlor to ask what it was. Unfortunately, it’s really not designed well. It was a great portion for a sundae too.

Alarm bells began when I realized they pre-scoop the ice cream cups. That’s not necessarily a problem…but why do it? They had too many employees working behind the counter (most were standing around), so couldn’t one or two of them have scooped ice cream? But honestly, it’s a theme park. If that was my only issue, I wouldn’t bother writing this review.

The reason I noticed the pre-made cup (chocolate scoop on top of vanilla scoop) was because the server was bored, flipping it over and over again while he waited for the whipped cream machine to be free. And no, I’m not kidding. I’m sure I made quite a face without intending to. Does Disney hire high school kids?

Next issue – these are peanut butter chips. Fine. Tasty even. But that’s not a drizzle. I was picturing some warm peanut butter mixed in with the hot fudge. Different story altogether – still tasty, but it was false advertising.

Next realization? The hot fudge is never going to reach this ice cream! Basically, each layer is solid, and the shape of the container makes it really difficult to get from one to another. So I ate about 3 inches of whipped cream (I almost felt like I’d be sick by the end) plus a few chips and then moved on to fudge and chocolate, trying desperately to leave a bit of fudge to go with the vanilla. I don’t know for sure the source, but this is very standard whipped cream, like what you’d get out of a can. Nothing like homemade.

A great sundae should have multiple layers of hot fudge. That way you’ve got some all the way down to the bottom. This is the complete opposite of that – the dish shape means the fudge and whipped cream are almost too distinct and impossible to enjoy with anything but the adjoining layers.

Getting two flavors in one bite is really tough here. When you manage it, it’s nice. Chocolate and peanut butter are a classic and an excellent pairing, and when I can get the fudge and chocolate ice cream together, that’s delicious too. Edy’s chocolate ice cream is really pleasant, I enjoyed it.

Ross described my efforts to pair flavors and eat this as a “geological survey in ice cream form”. Unfortunately there’s not much of anything else left by the time I get to the vanilla, despite my best efforts. And wow. This vanilla is…not that great. Ross wonders if I was overstimulated by the fudge and stuff, and that is always a possibility. But it tasted absurdly sweet to me, and without any real vanilla taste to it. It was like someone was given a description of what vanilla was supposed to taste like and they went with that. Also? It was icy. Charming.

If nothing else, this reminded me why I never order a sundae with Edy’s at a restaurant. I’ve never liked their vanilla base. It was so odd to order a sundae based on how awesome the flavors will go together and then to have to eat them almost entirely separately!

So, my recommendation? Skip the Plaza. If you need to visit that much, skip the All-American. If I had to eat here, the chocolate is a great choice, with fudge, and maybe I’d try mint chocolate chip or a caramel topping. But skip the vanilla and the sundaes.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you’re having a wonderful holiday season if you’re celebrating. Happy Eating!

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

Gelato Fiasco in Brunswick

My brother Robbie has recently moved to Brunswick, Maine, and my husband Ross and I were excited to spend a couple of days with him and his girlfriend, Ria. I have some challenging dietary restrictions, but Robbie and Ria insisted on cooking a delicious meal for us before following it up with some delicious dessert at Gelato Fiasco. He clearly knows the way to my heart!

Gelato Fiasco seemed reasonably priced for a city, and perhaps most importantly, they encouraged us to try as many flavors as we wanted – and we could combine as many flavors as we wanted in a cup! I think Ross and I got mediums (and a Robbie and Ria got smalls). Since there were four of us on hand, we were able to sample a lot of selections. Here’s what we thought!

Sweet Resurgam: This flavor includes sweet almond, burnt sugar, chocolate and caramel. It reminded me strongly of a Ferraro Rocher candy, which I loved. Extremely creamy. Absolutely outstanding. Ross found it peanut buttery. The chocolate is perfect and the flavors melt and blend in the mouth perfectly.

Cardamom: This is subtle, with a nice spice throughout. It’s a perfectly fall flavor. Not nearly as creamy as the sweet resurgam – much more typical of gelato, which doesn’t have a very high fat content.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salt: A darker chocolate base with the perfect amount of salt. It’s excellent. It’s almost as if hot fudge were gelato, although not as sweet. Deliciously creamy.

Caramel and Cider Donuts: Robbie thought there might be too much donut here! Each part was delicious, but he felt the ratio was off. Ross didn’t get many chunks in his, and he felt the gelato had no distinct flavor. Cinnamon, caramel or something would have been nice. Tastes perhaps like a generic vanilla.

Netflix and Chill: This flavor has peanut butter cups, brownies, chocolate chips and a caramel base. Ross really liked the overload of sweet treats here.

Fall in Bourbon County: This tastes like pumpkin and isn’t too sweet. They add bourbon and it had a little caramel to it. Ross said the pecans elevate it – the clusters are caramelized or glazed. Robbie added that this one doesn’t taste like every other fall thing. Ria enjoyed the bit of warmth and punch from the alcohol.

Ross sampled all of my flavors as well as his own, and he felt that the dark chocolate sea salt and sweet resurgam were much creamier than the other flavors we had. Perhaps their fall flavors are less polished and they’re still balancing? Or maybe I just lucked out.

Gelato Fiasco was founded in Brunswick, but they also have a Portland location. Their website is pretty fantastic, and I enjoyed reading about their Red Spoon Society.

It’s an adorable place that also carries coffee and gets very busy in the evenings. Stop by and report back on how you liked it!

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

Affordable Ice Cream in Gainesville

On a quick trip through what seems to be the awesome university town of Gainesville, FL, I was delighted to find Sweet Dreams in a small strip mall. It’s an unpretentious location focused on cozy seats to enjoy some cheap homemade ice cream.

This isn’t gourmet, and it’s not going to be your best ice cream ever (unless all you know is Edy’s and Baskin Robbins), but it’s a great place for a treat.

The flavors I tried:

Tamarind – Wow. This had a delightful tartness.

Chocolate Ginger – Unfortunately this wasn’t memorable – definitely nothing exceptional here.

House Chocolate – This is a dark chocolate with fruity undertones. It wasn’t my favorite, but I give them credit for uniqueness!

Chocolate Jack, Jimmy, Johnny – This has a wonderful chocolate flavor, boozy and with dried fruits and nuts. It’s actually a flaky texture, and it’s really tasty. I’ve never seen anything like it, minus the one time I made ice cream by throwing all sorts of chocolate together.

Mint Chip – Tastes like Christmas! This is light and delightful.

The brown sugar toffee also looks worth a try!

With tax, a double dipper was only $3.67, making this a very affordable indulgence. They will also let you mix flavors if you order a pint!

Do be aware there aren’t a lot of “normal” flavors like chocolate, strawberry and vanilla. This place is best for adventurers. I also missed the case with fun sorbets and dog treats on my first visit.

Have you tried Sweet Dreams? What did you think?

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! 

How Much Ice Cream Can You Fit Into a Week?

Do you ever ask yourself this question? Do you struggle with the desire to stay healthy while eating lots of ice cream? I certainly do. 

This past week I flew back to New Hampshire. The combined stress of travel, mild family drama and life combined with my ice cream-craving brain in a major way. Suffice to say that I ate too much dairy, sugar and fat. And when I thought about how to write about it, I realized just how intense it was. It’s like I scheduled it out with a desire to eat as much as possible. 

So be shocked, or use this as a guide for yourself on how to eat too much ice cream and sweet treats. 

Wednesday – A small hazelnut soft serve frozen yogurt with raspberries at Pinkberry at the Baltimore airport. A kiddie size Wild NH Black Bear – vanilla with red raspberry swirl and chocolate raspberry truffles – from Lang’s, who serve Blake’s ice cream. 

Thursday – A large with cotton candy, coconut cream and Wild Maine Black Bear, a red raspberry ice cream with dark chocolate truffles, for lunch at Jordan’s Creamery. 

Friday – A dish of Coconut Bliss‘ Cherry Amaretto (coconut-based, dairy-free) with fun toppings at a pre-wedding dinner. 

Saturday – A dish of Round Top’s Salted Caramel ice cream with hot fudge at a wedding dinner.  

Sunday – A small Wild NH Black Bear with hot fudge at Lang’s after dinner. 

Monday – A scoop of ice cream with two flavors, Moose Tracks (vanilla, amazing fudge ripple, peanut butter truffles) and Peppermint Stick, at Merrivale Ice Cream next to The Pizza Man

Tuesday – A small dish of Milk ( low-fat frozen yogurt) at Pinkberry with lunch. A small hot fudge shake at Sonic with dinner. 

Have you ever eaten this much sweetness in a week? What does your dream ice cream week look like? Tell me about it!