cream cravings of the Capital Region, or confessions of
a sweet tooth in exile
it drips down my arm, I wonít care. If I feel that icy,
sweet pain in my teeth, or the pinch of brain freeze, I
will not be deterred. Itís hot and Iím in for the official
cold treat of summertime: ice cream.
I owe my love of local ice cream to a dear friend who has
tasted it all. He is my corhort, with whom I tour these
places. Our trips for ice cream are my official signal that
summertime is here. Now, I confess, since moving one state
south, I get to enjoy the bountiful offerings of Capital
Region ice-cream stands only on special occasions, but distance
has made me appreciate the plentitude of stands even more.
So I implore you, dear reader, to take advantage! But with
so many choices, how does one choose where to go? In many
ways itís up to your mood and needs.
Today is a scorcher, and itís all I can do to keep from
driving for six hours for the homemade taste of Dairy Haus
in Saratoga Springs. Itís not a flashy or spectacular place,
but itís got what I want: black raspberry and lemon swirl
soft-serve ice cream, the ultimate in refreshment. Itís
particularly for times when Iíd be likely to seek out sorbet,
but itís so much better. Itís an added bonus that there
are big wooden swings outside Dairy Haus to share on with
When Iím in the mood for a dip, I head to Central Avenue
in Colonie. And when I say dip, Iím not talking about swimming,
people. I am talking about that waxy magic coating that
can hold soft serve in place on even the most scorching
days. I cannot resist a cherry dip on vanilla soft serve
at Kurver Kreme. Plus, theyíve got a great old sign worthy
of the avenue, which, by the way, is also true of the Snowman
in Troy. (Whatís cooler to see than a snowman in June?)
If easy access is what youíre in for, Stewartís is an excellent
option, and you wonít break the bank. The good people at
Stewartís have been doing ice cream since the 1940s, so
I trust their experience. I tend to pick amusing flavors
there like Cotton Candy or Crumbs Along the Mohawk (graham
cracker and caramel). But my ultimate is Fireworks: vanilla
ice cream with a cherry swirl and pop-rocks. Whoa. I should
also note that Stewartís is my favorite place for a milkshake.
Any of the coffee-oriented flavors can double as a dose
of caffeine. This is crutch on those pavement-melting days
of July when reaching for hot coffee proves your hopeless
addiction. (I give you permission to have a coffee milkshake
If youíre up for a challenge, however, trek up to Moxieís
Ice Cream in Troy, the home of the Blue Moon. Blue Moon
is a mystery flavor that keeps patrons guessing, which apparently
no one ever has. Still, if you correctly guess what Blue
Moon is made of, the staff apparently will confirm the ingredients.
Go venture a guess, because itís amazingly tasty. The folks
at Moxieís make all of their creations using vintage equipment.
Moxieís is part of a long tradition of roadside stands.
Two other stands I love are Farmerís Daughter and the Ice
Cream Man. The Ice Cream Man is a favorite, first because
its hard and soft ice cream is homemade and comes in a bevy
of tasty flavors, and itís a log cabin so it gets points
for ambiance. Farmerís Daughter is a farmerís version of
a drive-in where eaters bask in its sunny spot.
But perhaps, for you, ice cream is not a meal alone. When
I want to make lunch out of a trip for ice cream, Jumpiní
Jackís in Scotia is the place. Itís a drive-in by the Mohawk
thatís a longtime favorite of mine, not only because of
the burgers, but because of their blueberry soft-serve.
But be advised, they rotate flavors, and while theyíre all
yummy, you might show up wanting blueberry and find pistachio.
(I have been known to call in advance.) Do know that there
are no dips here, and locals encourage you to bite the bottom
off the cone and suck the ice cream through the drippy bottom.
Good, messy fun for all!
Now if swanky ice cream is what youíre in for, my father
is my best arbitor of taste. He is a vanilla ice cream connoisseur,
a snob, even. Then he tried Chez Sophieís ice cream made
with fresh cream, and real snobbery was born. Itís simply
perfection: blossoming with vanilla and sweetly creamy.
It is that to which all other vanilla ice cream will be
There are also great options for gelato and Italian ices
locally, but Iím smitten with ice cream stands. I could
swoon over more of them, but letís just say that there is
much to sample out there, and you should not be bashful
about pulling over for a treat. Surprise yourself. Itís
sort of like buying lemonade from kids on the roadside;
the mere act of stopping for ice cream makes me feel youthful,
relaxed and as though Iím making time to enjoy something
summery. But donít take my word for it, go forth and taste
summer for yourself.
the sound options for sweet treats: Dairy Haus, 476 Maple
Ave., Saratoga Springs; Farmersí Daughter, Route 29, Saratoga
Springs; Ice Cream Man, Route 29, Easton; Jumpiní Jackís,
5 Schonowee Ave., Scotia; Kurver Kreme, 1349 Central Ave.,
Colonie; Moxieís, Troy; the Snowman, 251 Fifth Ave., Troy.
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