Posts Tagged With: ice cream

The search for the best froyo in Boston: some Coolidge Corner options

Yogurtland froyo with the best chocolate sauce

Yogurtland froyo with the best chocolate sauce

Coming in second place on the list of top favorite things of my life: frozen yogurt. Well actually, I guess froyo is tied for second with ice cream. Either way, they are both cool, deliciously sweet addictions. And I just can’t get enough.  Recently, my froyo addiction has grown even larger with multiple-times-per-week trips to the various froyo shops in the Coolidge Corner area with one of my roommates.  Currently, within a ten minute walk, I can visit three different locations, each with their own features and benefits.  Since I already wrote a post on 16 Handles back when they opened in the winter (sidenote: who opens an ice cream place in the winter), I will focus this entry on my other two favorites: Ice Berry and Yogurtland.

Until discovering these recent additions to the Brookline frozen yogurt scene, I was more than content with my hard frozen yogurt from JP Licks (favorite flavors including mint chip and chocolate chocolate chip) and self-serve, soft serve frozen yogurt from 16 handles (hot fudge, nuttella, whip cream?!? who can beat those toppings). Now, though, my horizons have expanded, and I’ve learned that although JP Licks has delicious hard yogurt flavors and 16 handles has amazing toppings, the flavors and consistencies of the yogurts at Ice Berry and Yogurtland are actually better.

My Ice Berry creation

My Ice Berry creation

Ice Berry, located the closest to my apartment on Beacon Street west of Coolidge Corner, is one of my favorites.  Yes, they are a little out of the way from Coolidge Corner (a three minute walk) and a 10 minute walk from Washington Square, but they should not be overlooked. On the contrary, they actually have the best yogurt flavor I have ever tried: Java Caramel Cup Greek Yogurt. Amazing. Mixed with chocolate and vanilla yogurt and topped with chocolate chips, strawberries, and nonpareils, even better.  I hope that others in Brookline realize how great their yogurt is and give it a chance. I’m confident that they will be impressed.

If I decide to 2 minutes head deeper into the Coolidge Corner area, I can always visit Yogurtland.  This yogurt shop replaced Berry Freeze (a former love of mine and the first self-serve froyo place that I visited), and I was hesitant to try it at first. I had JP Licks and 16 Handles within 20 feet of each other, what more could I need. Also, I had heard some not amazing reviews of Yogurtland…and they have weird Looney Tunes posters in their windows. How do the Looney Tunes and froyo go together? Anyways, my roommate wanted to try it, so we walked in one day, grabbed some tiny cups of free samples, and then left to go to Ice Berry.  A couple of weeks later, they switched their Looney Tunes flavor of the month to Devil’s Food Cake (chocolatey so it must be good), and we decided to give it another shot.  This time, I was happily surprised with their selection of froyo that didn’t melt very quickly. I filled my cup with a combination of Devils Food Cake (chocolate, as I mentioned above, always wins), Pistachio (usually not one of my top picks, but tasty and not too sweet), Vanilla (average), and a small amount of Red Velvet Cake (a little too sweet). And topped it with strawberries, cookie dough pieces, chocolate chips, and Giraldelli chocolate sauce…yes, you read that correctly. Giraldelli. Amazing. 

Overall, choosing between the three is very difficult. All have something to offer. 16 Handles has Nutella, hot fudge, and whip cream; Ice Berry has an amazing greek yogurt flavor, which I’ll assume has the same amount of healthy protein as regular greek yogurt does; and Yogurtland has some delicious flavors and Giradelli chocolate syrup.

I guess the verdict is…..I need to try them all. Again. At least 5 times. The winner will be decided in a few months. Check back, please!

Some of Yogurtland's many flavors

Some of Yogurtland’s many flavors

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The Search for the Best Ice Cream in Massachusetts: Rota Springs

SMALL Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough and Coconut Almond Bar ice cream!

SMALL Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough and Coconut Almond Bar ice cream!

Nestled in a residential Sterling neighborhood, Rota Springs Farm serves some of the best homemade ice cream in central Massachusetts.  They offer a huge variety of over 50 hard ice cream flavors ranging from classics like vanilla and chocolate to apple pie and cowabunga crunch as well as a number of frozen yogurt, sherbet, and sorbet flavors.  Each month, they also debut a new limited-time flavor.  In July, they were Peanut Butter Cookie Dough and Lavender…Interesting. For those not looking for a simple cup or cone, they also have many different sundaes, frappes, and toppings to chose from. In my opinion, the toppings are totally unnecessary, though.

Rota Springs had been off my radar for quite a while, and I know that I hadn’t visited in several years.  Last weekend, I was thinking of going to Cherry Hill again (which of course I love), but they close at 9:00 pm and there wasn’t enough time to make it there after finishing dinner.  I didn’t want to have to resort to the options that stay open later and get an unoriginal dessert like a Fribble from Friendly’s or a soft serve vanilla cone from McDonalds. Suddenly, I remembered Rota Springs and quickly looked up their closing time. 9:30 pm. Perfect. We had just enough time to make it there.  When we arrived, the lines had died down and were very short.  I stared at the flavor board for a few minutes and decided on two flavors, thinking I was hungry enough for the small size.  I chose a combination  of Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough and Coconut Almond Bar on a sugar cone.  The cone I received seconds later was overflowing with cool ice cream deliciousness.  As a messy eater, I knew that I couldn’t finish without some disastrous spillage and multiple chocolate stains on my khaki shorts so I asked for a cup and began to feast on my favorite dessert.

I haven’t had coconut ice cream in a long time, and it was worth it to try something new. The Coconut Almond Bar features a coconut ice cream base with coconut flakes, whole almonds, and shaved chocolate. Very good, but definitely not a favorite.  I think with a few more chocolate flakes would have gone a long way, but then again I’m a chocolate addict in addition to being an ice cream addict.  My second flavor, Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough, was just as amazing as I imagined. Always one of my favorites, this flavor features a chocolate ice cream base with generous chunks of cookie dough, peanut butter swirls, and chocolate chips.  Some many of the best flavors combined into one! It was cool, creamy, and absolutely perfect! I also tried a bite of Greg’s Apple Pie ice cream, which tasted just as it sounds and was a perfect reminder of how Fall will be here before we know it.

In addition to creative and tasty homemade ice cream and letting customers try two flavors in their very LARGE small cup or cone, Rota Springs has a few other positive features.  First of all, they stay open past 9:00 pm, I mean who can really finish their dinner, digest, get to an ice cream shop, and savor their dessert by 9:00 pm? 9:30 isn’t much, but it offers a little additional time that I think is necessary.  Also, the prices are very reasonable and you get much more than you pay for. My small cone was under $4.00 and I was beyond satisfied when I finished. All in all, definitely one of the best ice cream places in Massachusetts.

Next time you’re in central MA, be sure to stop by Rota Springs. I know I will!

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Southern Jersey Shore Favorites, Along with Some “Best Ice Cream” Contenders

Outside of Sunset Pier Restaurant

Outside of Sunset Pier Restaurant

One of my favorite summer trips from the past few years doesn’t involve passports, security lines, or currency exchanges.  Don’t get me wrong, I love travelling internationally and visiting new countries, trying exotic foods, and experiencing cultures that are completely different from ours.  But the semi-regular long weekends at my friend’s parents’ beach house in Sea Isle City, New Jersey has become one of the highlights of my summer.  The relaxed atmosphere combined with the minimal expenses creates the ideal getaway.

Almost every year since graduation, my roommates and I, and possibly a few others make the 6 hour drive from Boston down to southern New Jersey on a Thursday evening.  After some rush hour traffic outside of Boston, the ride is usually smooth from there (except for the times that I’ve accidentally gone over the George Washington bridge…TWICE).  Along the way, we’ll stop for a traditional rest stop dinner, and we’ll arrive at the beach house around 1 or 2 am.  Much better than wasting most of the day driving and inevitably hitting much more traffic.

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, this beach house isn’t some little, rundown house near the beach, it’s a large, new, three-floor home that boasts four bedrooms, quite a few bathrooms, a kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliances, two decks, a grill, a ping pong table, and more.

During the weekend, we’ll spend our days laying in the sun and swimming in ocean at the beach that’s just a five minute walk from the house and most nights we’ll grab some food and drinks from the local grocery store and cook some healthy and delicious meals on the grill.

Since we’re saving so much on transportation and food, and not spending any money on a hotel, there are a few things that I’ll go out and splurge on. Some of my favorites are listed below.

  • Rick’s Breakfast House is one of the best breakfast spots that I’ve been to, not only in New Jersey, but anywhere.  They’re open just for breakfast and lunch and are a popular spot in Sea Isle City with lines out the door on summer weekends.  Luckily, we went on a rainy Friday morning and got right in.  The service was quick, the menu was comprehensive, and the food was delicious.  Usually, I leave a restaurant breakfast completely stuffed and sometimes nauseous. Since I always want both pancakes or French toast and eggs, I’ll end up ordering some monstrosity with multiple pancakes, two eggs, sausage, homefries and toast.  Rick’s offers the perfect solution! A breakfast that’s called the Little One with one pancake, one egg, toast (the extra carbs are mandatory for me because I need to put my eggs on toast), a choice of sausage or bacon, and a choice of homefries or waffle fries. Waffle fries for breakfast, what gets better than that? My meal was perfectly sized and I left the restaurant contently full, happy, and ready for my beach weekend.  For those that are looking for healthier options, Rick’s also offers egg white omelets and fruit sides with berries.
  • Sunset Pier restaurant: One night, Greg and I decided to go out on a little date night.  Looking for a close, inexpensive restaurant, we came across Sunset Pier.  With great TripAdvisor reviews and a location right on the bay a 10 minute walk from the house, Sunset Pier seemed like the ideal restaurant to try.  We arrived in the early evening and were pleasantly surprised to get a table out on the shaded deck without a wait.  The views of the bay were beautiful and I can imagine the sunsets are amazing.  The dinner menu includes reasonably priced appetizers, sandwiches, salads, seafood, and pasta entrées. In the mood for seafood, I ordered a mahi-mahi sandwich, and Greg ordered the Seafood Royale.  My sandwich was tasty, and I had never tried mahi-mahi before so I was happy to try something new.  Greg’s dinner, though, was so delicious. A pile of linguine in a white wine garlic sauce with mussels, clams, scallops, and shrimp. Yum!
  • Waffle Bowl sundae from Marita's

    Waffle Bowl sundae from Marita’s

    Marita’s Homemade Ice Cream: Anyone that I’ve met knows that I love ice cream.  It goes beyond that, though, you could say that I’m addicted to ice cream and I’ll take any chance I get to satisfy my cravings with another cool, sweet scoop of heaven.  Although I’ll eat any type of ice cream or frozen yogurt, homemade hard ice cream is my favorite.  Marita’s offers a wide selection of traditional and specialty ice cream flavors, frozen yogurt, frappes, and more.  I decided on a waffle bowl sundae and ordered it with cookie dough and chocolate chocolate chip ice cream, hot fudge, caramel, whipped cream, and a cherry. Amazing.  Mixing the crushed waffle cone with the ice cream and toppings definitely hit the spot.  Also as a plus, Marita’s has quite a bit of outdoor seating at large tables and benches and stays open late (I believe either 12 or 1 am!).  Who likes ice cream places that close at 9?

  • YoHo Frozen Yogurt:  In addition to traditional ice cream, I’m also always looking for some new self-serve frozen yogurt to try.  With more and more frozen yogurt shops popping up around Boston by the week, I wasn’t surprised to see a few in Sea Isle City.  YoHo is decorated with a bright, modern, beachy theme and serves 10 rotating soft serve flavors and over 30 toppings to choose from.  As I do at most self-serve places, I filled my cup with multiple flavors (chocolate pretzel, vanilla, and chocolate) and topped it with some of my favorites (chocolate chips, crushed waffle cone, M&Ms, and more). The yogurt was sweet and there were toppings in every bite. And frozen yogurt’s healthy…right?!?
  • Atlantic City:  Only a little over 30 minutes from the beach house, Atlantic City is the perfect place to spend a couple of hours one evening.  We headed up there on Saturday night and after arriving at Caesar’s, we spent some time walking along the boardwalk, eating more ice cream, and doing a little bit of gambling. I allowed myself to spend $40 on roulette betting the minimum on red or black or one of the other outside spots, and happily left $50 richer than I came.

One tip I just remembered, always carry cash.  Most of the spots above are cash only, and of course, you never want to get caught in AC without cash and have to use one of their $5-fee ATMs.

Of course, Sea Isle City also offers multiple bars in its downtown area and a bus that travels along the main roads for cheap and quick transportation for a night out drinking.  None of the bars seem too remarkable to me, and this year we chose to stay in and relive our college years with a round of Kings and summer beers.

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The search for the best ice cream in Massachusetts: 16 Handles

My 16 Handles Creation

My 16 Handles Creation

Berry Freeze and J.P. Licks need to watch out.  Competition for the best frozen yogurt in Coolidge Corner is heating up with the  newest addition to the neighborhood, 16 Handles.  The frozen yogurt shop, which is a franchise the national chain, opened on Beacon Street a couple of weeks ago, and I had my first taste of it last weekend.  I’m impressed.

16 Handles’ decor is modern and upbeat, with bright pink chairs and flashing blue lights on the walls.  Yogurt machines with 16 flavors line the walls, and countless containers of toppings fill the space before the register.  The perfect place to meet up with friends for a frozen treat.

Like many other frozen yogurt shops, 16 Handles allows customers to fill and top their own yogurt creations.  Always a plus! They also let customers sample a few flavors before choosing, and my friend and I tried many of the delicious options available.  While every once in a while I’m in the mood for some healthy tart yogurt topped with fruit, most of the time when I’m craving my favorite frozen treat, I’m looking for something sweet and covered in chocolate.  So, I was pleasantly surprised with the sweetness of 16 Handles’ flavors.  Of course they also have healthy, tart, fruity flavors and fruit toppings, but that just wasn’t what I was looking for. Current sweet flavors include birthday cake, chocolate love affair, cookies and cream, salted caramel and more.

I decided on a combination of mocha, chocolate, and creme brulee, and topped it with Butterfinger pieces, cookie dough, chocolate chips, and mini peanut butter cups.  To make a great experience even better, 16 Handles has hot fudge! Not just cold chocolate syrup, but actual hot fudge! Not too many other spots have that option, so needless to say, I was very excited.

My creation was the perfect combination of sweet, chocolately, and creamy.  The yogurt was smooth, the flavors tasted exactly like their names described, and topping choices made it the ideal sundae.

With 16 flavors and around 50 toppings, the options to satisfy your sweet tooth are endless.  I’m sure I’ll be back very soon to try a new combination…My ice cream addiction can only go so long without being satisfied.

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The search for the best ice cream…in the world? Snog, London

Frozen yogurt at Snog

Frozen yogurt at Snog

This summer, I decided to start posting about my search for the best ice cream in Masssachusetts. Of course, I couldn’t go to London without looking for some ice cream to satisfy my addiction. I didn’t waste any time.  The first night, we visited Snog, a fun frozen yogurt chain located throughout London.  We stopped at the one in Covent Garden.

Reminiscent of Pinkberry and Berry Freeze in Boston, Snog was decorated white and bright pink with modern-looking white tables and chairs, the ceilings covered in lights and music blaring.

Their tart soft serve is fat-free, sugar-free, and healthy. Their flavors include a few fruity options, plain, and chocolate.  I, like usual, chose chocolate, hoping that it would taste like Pinkberry’s chocolate yogurt.  I ordered a small (I think?) and had it topped with strawberries and dark chocolate chips.  If I remember correctly, it was overpriced, probably around 5 pounds.

We sat outside to eat our frozen yogurt, and it was pretty good, but not amazing.  It definitely had that extra tart taste that some frozen yogurt has.  I was hoping for something a little more sweet and creamy, but it satisfied my ice cream craving, none the less.  The strawberries and dark chocolate chips were delicious toppings that added some sweetness.

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Why I’m starting to love the season I used to hate

Pumpkin Spice Latte, http://www.starbucks.com

For as long as I can remember, summer has been my favorite season.  Sun, warm weather, no school, vacations, ice cream, swimming, longer days, the beach…the list goes on and on.  Also, for as long as I can remember, fall has always been my least favorite season.  School, homework, busier work days, colder weather, sunsets at getting earlier and earlier…blahh Of course, the main reason for my dislike was school.  Now that I’ve been out of school for a while, though, fall is beginning to grow on me. Here’s why:

1. Apple picking: It’s always been one of my favorite fall activities.  For years, my family and I would go to Marshall farm in Fitchburg, but sadly, it’s now closed. Last year, I went to Sholan in Leominster, but it just wasn’t the same.  This year, I hope to try a new apple picking location, preferably one with a little shop that sells caramel apples, apple crisp, apple cider, etc.

2. Hiking: This is the first fall since junior year of high school where I haven’t had to work on the weekends.  I’m trying to spend my weekends outside, doing fun activities like hiking. Last weekend, I hiked to the top of Wachusett with some friends. It was definitely more of a workout than I remembered!

3. Apple crisp and apple crisp ice cream. One of the best fall treats.  J.P. Licks has a great apple crisp flavor this September; head there before the end of the month to try it out.  I also enjoy homemade apple crisp with vanilla ice cream.

4. Pumpkin Spice lattes at Starbucks. Delicious.

5. Shipyard Pumpkin beer. Definitely one of my favorite beers, especially when they put cinnamon sugar on the rim!

6. Thanksgiving. Food, food, and more food. Enough said.

7. Biking. Another perfect fall, outdoor activity! I’m doing a 30 mile bike ride this Sunday morning, so fingers crossed for no rain.

8. I’m going to Europe for the first time in October! My friend and I are visiting, London, Paris, and Amsterdam. Can’t wait!

And…I can’t even make it to 10.  All in all, though, fall is beginning to grow on me and I appreciate the season more and more as I get older.  Now that I’m not writing papers, working doubles every Sunday during football season at a sports bar, or wasting my time at a second job at Friendly’s, my fall weekends are actually turning out to be pretty nice.   And, like usual, I’m sure winter will be here before we know it.

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The search for the best ice cream in Massachusetts: Part 4: Cherry Hill

One of my hometown favorites, Cherry Hill, a barn converted into an ice cream shop,  sits on a large, grassy hill in Lunenburg, MA.  The large open space is a nice contrast to my usual ice cream spots in Boston and was the perfect way to end a day of hiking at Wachusett.

I visited Cherry Hill many times when I lived in Leominster and was fortunate enough to visit twice this season.  Their flavor board boasts a variety of homemade flavors, and each sounds more delicious than the next.  On my first visit this year, craving hot fudge, I opted for the kiddie size sundae with Mint Moose Tracks (new fave!) topped with hot fudge, whip cream, and a cherry.  It was the perfect size, perfect price, and perfect combination of mint and chocolate.  The Mint Moose Tracks features mint ice cream, large dark chocolate chunks, and small mint truffles. Yum!

During my second visit, there were just too many flavors to choose from. I couldn’t pick one! Fortunately, one of my friends mentioned that they wanted to order two flavors, so once I got up to the window I asked if I could have a kiddie size with 2 different flavors.  “Of course!” the girl replied, probably not knowing that she just made all of our days. I opted for a combination of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough and Moose Tracks in a cup with no toppings.  Amazing.  Moose Tracks is, of course, a classic favorite of mine, and the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookie Dough combines so many of my other usual favorites! I totally just typed out – It was love at first bite…and then deleted it because that’s wayyyyy to corny, but true!  There’s no need for toppings on a flavor that good.

As far as sizes and pricing goes, you can’t beat Cherry Hill.  Their kiddie size is huge (they say 1 scoop, but it’s actually 2 big scoops), and is under $3 for a cup or a cone; I don’t think the kiddie sundae is much more than $4.  Definitely worth the drive from Boston.  A deal, great flavors, and big sizes, ordered from a classic ice cream stand window and eaten on picnic tables on  a grassy hill in rural MA.  I don’t think anything tops that!

Oh, and for those of you feeling a little more healthy, they also have some good choices of hard frozen yogurt.  But really, when you’re at a place like this with creamy, rich, homemade real ice cream, why settle for the healthy stuff?

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