Dish: We All Scream for…

The scoop on the best flavors at local ice creameries, from mocha almond assault and burnt marshmallow to fresh raspberry
peach ice cream at Benson's
The fresh native peach ice cream is a seasonal favorite at Benson’s in West Boxford. Photo: Ken Tokarz
September 17, 2012

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This is one in an occasional series about eating establishments in neighborhoods near Tufts’ three campuses—and sometimes a bit beyond. Have a suggestion for a place for our roving diners to explore? Email us at now@tufts.edu. You can also follow Dish on Foursquare.

When we all screamed for ice cream as youngsters it usually meant vanilla, chocolate, strawberry or, to appease those fussier children, a functional solution that combined all three: harlequin—or Neopolitan for those unacquainted with its clown name.

Thankfully, we grow into more adventurous appetites as adults. I can’t be the only person who remembers the clam chowder ice cream offered once upon a time at Christina’s in Cambridge. The lucky few who share that indelible memory may also recall a seasonally offered turkey dinner ice cream as well.

For better or worse, that brief period of history appears to be irretrievable. Returning to the scene of the crime, I found scarce evidence of those daring anomalies. Today what passes for originality might be Christina’s bergamot or Rancatore’s cinnamon cherry vanilla. That said, I was gratified to receive word of a maple bacon ice cream at the aptly named Reasons to be Cheerful in West Concord.

Among currently paraded flavors I can also report such happy epiphanies as chocolate rosemary, burnt marshmallow and saffron orange khulfee, all found on a given day at the redoubtable Toscanini’s in Cambridge. Flavors change frequently, so it can be somewhat hit or miss for those in search of the exotic. And you won’t encounter any frozen yogurt here—may this advisory spare you the embarrassment of a scooper’s blithe snubbing should you haplessly inquire.

If you continue grazing in a westerly direction you may stumble across Bedford Farms, in Bedford. Standout flavors include muddy river (chocolate with hard peanut butter inclusions) and an old-fashioned butter crunch studded with butterscotch bits. The product here is neither too sweet nor too fat and impressive enough to inspire interest in their ice cream sandwiches, pies and cakes. A sanity check kept me pushing on.

Photo: Taylor McNeilKimball Farm is a familiar name with multiple locations, and a tasting of several varieties in its Westford anchor location attests to the reasons for its popularity. A signature flavor called mocha almond assault piqued my inquisitiveness. I was rewarded with something unexpectedly deep, dark and mysterious. It was encouraging to see attention lavished on froyo selections, too, like peanut butter chip and orange chocolate chip. (You may be excused for feeling tempted to order the fried clams here, but I would counsel you to hold your horses, allow the impulse to subside and see our earlier clams roundups for more advice.)

Local cognoscenti already know to make a beeline for Benson’s in West Boxford, where the main attraction is the seasonal offerings made from fresh native fruit: strawberry, raspberry, blueberry and peach. And if that’s not enough motivation, check their Facebook page for sporadic offerings of blackberry and baked apple. I admit to a fondness for their frozen pudding, a retro flavor with inclusions of candied fruit. All right, you got me—I also like fruitcake.

In my unflagging quest of the sublime and the strange, I landed at the doors of a vegan outlier called FoMu (get it?) in Allston. Don’t laugh. In addition to providing a timely diversion in my collision course with myocardial infarction, I discovered there some novel innovations to tickle the palate.

Thai peanut, dark and stormy, carrot cake, cinnamon bun swirl, frangelico brownie—all are created with coconut milk, the first two impressing favorably. Some of the others, avocado, for example, weren’t assertive enough to shine through the base flavor. Among the available toppings are mochi mini-marshmallows, a surprisingly yummy “rice mellow” goo and a well-meaning facsimile of hot fudge. As the rocky road to redemption is paved with the best of intentions, sampling here is advised to safeguard against a disgruntled absolution. Now go in peace.

Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream, 1255 Cambridge St., Cambridge, 617-492-7021

Rancatore’s Ice Cream and Yogurt,  36 Leonard St., Belmont, 617-489-5090

Reasons to Be Cheerful, 110 Commonwealth Ave., West Concord, 978-610-6248

Toscanini’s Ice Cream, 899 Main St., Cambridge, 617-491-5877

Bedford Farms, 18 North Rd., Bedford, 781-275-6501

Kimball Farm, 400 Littleton Rd. (Rt. 110), Westford, 978-486-3891

Benson’s, 181 Washington St. (Rt. 133), West Boxford, 978-352-2911

FoMu, 481 Cambridge St., Allston, 617-903-3276

Read earlier Dish entries at now.tufts.edu/dish.    

Fred Kalil can be reached at frederick.kalil@tufts.edu.

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