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Rivah Visitor's Guide

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A Scoop of Happiness

Aidan Lynskey eyes a triple scoop banana boat.
Rosalie Letizia enjoys plain, and pure, vanilla.

by Tom Chillemi

Nothing goes better with summertime than ice cream.

And if you’re looking for some homemade ice cream at the Rivah, you’re in luck. At least four ice cream makers practice their art—offering some unusual flavors—and made fresh with quality ingredients.

Short Lane Ice Cream has been churning homemade ice cream for eight years at its location at Short Lane and Route 17 in Gloucester. Kim and Jim Williams renovated the 1930s vintage country store, saving its character that gives it a special ambience.

Short Lane Ice Cream offers a quality product designed to please every palate, said co-owner Kim Williams. “We are continually creating new flavors while offering the best-selling flavors with consistency.”

Chocolate remains the top seller, she said. And you’ll find such tempting treats as coconut, lemon, ginger cream, dreamsicle, black raspberry, coffee, butter pecan and mint chocolate chip, to name a few.

Short Lane Ice Cream also offers “gelato” in Italian custard and less heavy cream resulting in a frozen dessert that has less fat grams and one in which the flavor comes through more intensely, she explained.

There also are sundaes, milkshakes and the old-fashioned banana boat. Seasonal favorites include blueberry and pumpkin custard.

Hot Chocolate
When it comes to ice cream, Something Different Country Store & Deli lives up to its name.

For instance, “ethno-gastronomist” and owner Dan Gill has combined chocolate and chili peppers in a flavor he calls “Hot Chocolate.” The combination has ancient origins going back to the Incas and probably before, he explained.

Capsaisin, the chemical compounds that make hot peppers hot, is fat soluble, not water soluble, said Gill. “Our Hot Chocolate ice cream does not taste hot . . . until you swallow it and then you get a nice warm feeling in your throat. The butter fat coats the tongue. The next bite neutralizes the capsaisin and starts the process all over again.”

Growing up on a farm at Remlik in Middlesex County, Gill’s family had a milk cow and plenty of fresh milk, cream and butter. A special summer treat was homemade ice cream, made with a hand-cranked churn. “Our ice creams are as close as we could get to what we made on the farm when I was a child,” he said.

Everyone enjoys T&J’s Dairy Barn in Burgess.
Rich dark chocolate is the signature of a hot fudge sundae.

Gill is proud to say that they don’t use any manufactured flavorings or colorants at all. To make their “real” buttered pecan they “caramelize” pecans in butter and organic sugar. Caramelization refers to the complex chemical reactions that occur when sugars are heated to the point of browning, creating hundreds of flavor compounds, explained Gill. When proteins, such as those in pecans, are heated, even more flavors are created.

Gill makes a trip to the mountains of Virginia in the summer and brings back bushels of the little White Lady peaches for his white peach ice cream, and he enhances the natural flavor of peaches and strawberries with a little balsamic vinegar and kelp powder.

At Something Different you’ll also find “adult” ice creams that contain alcohol in flavors such as Brandy Alexander, and Grasshopper with Creme de Menthe and Creme de Cocoa. A Christmas special is egg nog.

“Fun times”
T&J’s Dairy Barn on Route 200 in Burgess “is a labor of love as well as a leap of faith,” said owners Tom and Jill White. T&J’s opened May 24, 2012, to a welcoming community, said Jill.  

T&J’s homemade ice cream is made fresh at the store and they welcome customer requests for their favorites. “So far, we have served up juicy peach, blackberry, pistachio, cinnamon, mocha and other delicious flavors,” said Jill. “We also serve sugar-free yogurt and many flavors of soft-serve ice cream. Our banana splits are becoming famous!”

At T&J’s Dairy Barn, ice cream complements a menu of sandwiches and subs. “Our hope is to become a fixture in the community, providing a wonderful environment for families, friends and visitors to enjoy a good meal and fun times,” said Jill.

Stretches like taffy
Chitterchats Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street in Reedville offers 30 flavors of custom made ice cream. “The hardest part is picking a flavor and that’s why we suggest getting more than one scoop,” said owner Cheryl Moritz.

The most popular flavor is “chocolate decadence,” followed by white chocolate with Oreo and peanut butter, and birthday cake, which is a vanilla cake batter base with rainbow sprinkles, popular with children of all ages.

Ice cream enjoyed by the adult palate includes almond Amaretto, rum raisin, and coconut. A new flavor, salted caramel, combines sweet and salty tastes.

All fruit flavors are made with fresh fruit. Customers are anticipating ice cream made with peach purchased at the farmers’ market, and pumpkin in the fall, she said.

Non-dairy and sugar free ice cream are also available.

Chitterchats’ ice cream is handmade in small batches, Moritz explained, and extra steps go into the process that are beyond what is used for most ice creams. “It’s so creamy that customers have said it ‘pulls’ and stretches like taffy,” she said.

Chitterchats opened in 2004 and Moritz has created the nostalgic feel of soda shops. The milkshake machine is an original Hamilton Beach machine from the 1950s. “It takes a little longer to hand dip ice cream and add milk, but people seem to love them.”

They also offer “malts” that give milk shakes a distinct flavor that is not found in many places anymore.

One taste of ice cream says it all. (Photo courtesy of Shelley Gill)

Ice cream memories
Brandon Durant of Falls Church didn’t mind trading his Daiquiri ice cream for his son’s chocolate chip ice cream. “I never had bad ice cream,” he said.

Memories of an “ice cream plant” in Beaufort, N.C., are more than 60 years old for Chuck Thompson of Gloucester. Now 77, Thompson recalled fondly those days when he and his friends would stop and get a chocolate milkshake on the way home from a day of fishing. “I can’t forget them as good as they were,” he said.

Kitty Priddy of Middlesex remembers special Sundays at her grandparents’ house where they would take turns cranking a 2-gallon ice cream freezer. “It was a special occasion. Everything you work for is better,” she said.

The best part was when the dasher was pulled from the cylinder. All of the grandchildren would gather around with a spoon anticipating that first taste of ice cream scraped from the dasher. “That was the best taste of all,” Priddy said. “Oh, it was so good!”

posted 06.28.2012

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