Summer Fun - Cool Treats
There 100 days of summer in Connecticut, and even more great flavors of ice cream to be had across the state.
There are times during the summer when you just feel like treating yourself to something good—whether it be a big dish of ice cream, a day away from the daily grind, or an experience that only happens at this time of year. With that in mind, we’ve filled these six pages with some suggestions for you. Think of them as little fillers that will add color and fun to the season. Please take us up on them. The chance won’t come again for an entire year.
Buttonwood Farm Ice Cream, Griswold
Lots of places make their own ice cream; Buttonwood goes that extra mile and makes their own cones daily. Flavors range from old-school (Frozen Pudding, a rum raisin with bits of peach, pineapple, maraschino cherry and apple) to elite (Forbidden Silk Chocolate, made with cocoa powder from Holland) to truly kid-friendly (Cotton Candy and Purple Cow). There’s one feature everyone can enjoy: 14 acres of stunning sunflower fields with more than 300,000 blooms, culminating in the annual “Sunflowers for Wishes” campaign July 17-25—every $5 bouquet you buy directly benefits Connecticut’s Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream, Mystic
Some carp that Mystic D’s ice cream is pricey, but given that it comes with a million-dollar view (of the Mystic River and downtown’s historic bascule bridge) and more than a century of tradition—there’s been an ice-cream parlor on this spot since the 1800s—we call it a bargain. Our remedy for a sticky summer day: Cool down with one or more of the specialty flavors (Lemon Chocolate Kiss, Sticky Fractured Finger, Chocolate Mint Oreo), or better still, the infamous Caramel Lover’s Sundae while sitting on the riverside porch and enjoying an ocean breeze or two. 2 W. Main St., (860) 572-7978.
Old Lyme Ice Cream Shoppe, Old Lyme
“Carpe Cre’em” is the motto of this summer-green cottage, set like a rustic jewel on Old Lyme’s quiet, tony main drag. Offering 37 daily rotating, 16 percent butterfat choices—ranging from chocolate and vanilla to rum raisin, Spiced Chai and Mississippi Mud—it’s clearly a prime place for some serious “carpe”ing, whether by the cone, cup, shake, banana boat or our favorite concoction, the “Waffle-Up-Pa-Gus.” That’s not all: Owner Jason Conroy is also vice president of The Brewer’s Cow, makers of Guinness and Sam Adams-infused ice cream. So flavors like Black and Tan, Stout Crème Brûlée and Ten Penny Beer Nut Parfait also appear on the menu, along with frozen yogurt, Italian ice and a selection of hearty deli sandwiches. 34 Lyme St., (860) 434-6942 (oldlymeicecream.com, thebrewerscow.com).
Mortensen’s Ice Cream, Cromwell and Newington
The Mortensen family knows a thing or two about ice cream, having been in the dairy business since 1915, when Elmer Mortensen began delivering milk door-to-door via horse and buggy. Ice cream became the focus in 1976, with the family churning their own homemade flavors on the premises. With 30-some flavors to choose from—Almond Joy, black raspberry, banana and Heath Bar Crunch among them—plus loads of toppings (caramel, strawberries, crushed pineapple, various candies), your sweet tooth is sure to be satisfed. The Cromwell location serves ice cream and its variations (shakes, sorbets, sherberts), while the original Newington location also serves burgers, fries and sandwiches. 27 Shunpike Rd., Cromwell, (860) 632-1094 (cash only); 3145 Berlin Tpke., Newington, (860) 666-8219.
Walnut Beach Creamery, Milford
“There’s art in ice cream” is the motto at this shorefront shop, and the proof of that claim is in the tasting of any of the incredible flavors made here daily. Fans line up at the tiny watermelon-green-and-pink store, which was opened in 2006 by Susan Patrick, who makes almost everything sold here on-site herself—the ice cream, candy ingredients (pecan pralines and salted caramels), hot fudge and butterscotch toppings and waffle cones. Just one taste of Walnut Beach Mud (fine Belgian chocolate and espresso brownie), Sandi Annie (blue vanilla with Graham cracker sand and chocolate-covered Goldfish) or honey vanilla (flavored with local honey and a hint of cinnamon) will make a fan of you, too. Outdoor seating only. 17 Broadway, Milford, (203) 878-7738 (walnutbeachcreamery.com).
Il Bacio, Danbury
Tony and Gina Nascimento have been making ice cream since 1988, at this location since 2003. They have a repertoire of 400 ice cream flavors, with 32 out at all times—“The challenge,” says Tony, “is to have what the supermarkets don’t have,” and create a product with just the right richness. They must be succeeding: Kids line up for Cupcake and Cookie Monster, grown-ups for Chocolate Covered Strawberry and Cardiac Arrest (made with seven kinds of cocoa and chocolate), all agers for Italian ice—35 flavors, with 16 out at all times, notably lemon, lime-berry and chocolate. 30 Germantown Rd., (203) 794-1184.
Dr. Mike’s, Bethel
What’s in a name? Here’s the scoop: The original owner named the shop he opened in 1975 for his friend, known as Dr. Mike; in 1977 he sold it to current owner Robert Allison, who calls himself Dr. Mike (why not?). Customers hang out in back at picnic tables and on the porch, savoring what may well be the state’s richest ice cream. The Chocolate Lace, a creamy base studded with chocolate-covered caramel, is divine, though it’s hard to resist Rich Chocolate (with cocoa butter “north of 20 percent”). And when you top them with the intense hot fudge . . . ah, bliss. 158 Greenwood Ave., (203) 792-4388. Dr. Mike’s is also sold at B-Sweet Treats, 444 Main St., Monroe, (203) 452-0499; and Marge’s Coffee, Sandwich and Ice Cream Shoppe, 400 E. Main St., Stratford, (203) 386-1085.
Ferris Acres Creamery, Newtown
It’s a picture-perfect 80-acre family farm: On one side of the road, there’s a meadow with cows, a red barn and a stand where you order from 50 flavors, 27 always available; on the other side of the road, more cows grazing on a hillside. Bonus time: about 5 p.m., when the hillside cows amble down, cross the road and head home. A place at a picnic table guarantees you a ringside seat for the cow parade while you lick away. Highly recommended are Cow Trax (vanilla with peanut butter, caramel and chocolate chips), Campfire (vanilla with fudge swirls, Graham cracker and marshmallow bits—think s’mores) and orange pineapple. 144 Sugar St. (Route 302), (203) 426-8803 (ferrisacrescreamery.com).
Rich Farm, Seymour
If you like to see where your ice cream comes from, look no further than Rich Farm, a 100-acre working dairy farm where, while enjoying your icy treat, you can visit with the cows as they graze in the scenic hillside pastures. For those who don’t need to get quite so up close and personal with the source, indoor seating was recently added. So now you can get your ice cream fix year-round! Rich Farm makes more than 30 flavors fresh daily—from Cappuccino Craze (coffee ice cream with a cappuccino swirl) to Full Moon Chocolate (double chocolate with fudge swirl, available only on the full moon)—plus specialties like soft- serve, Italian ices, frozen yogurt and cakes. 691 Oxford Rd. (Route 67), (203) 881-1040 (richfarmicecream.com).