A recent Chowhound discussion on Maine’s best ice cream got me thinking about when I worked for a trade publication called Gourmet News. I edited the new products section, and the president of a Massachusetts-based ice cream company called me about a new line of gourmet ice cream it was introducing. He asked where I was based, and when I said, Maine, he replied: “Oh, we don’t even bother to sell ice cream in Maine. There are so many great, locally made ice creams.”
And how. I later wrote an article on Maine-made ice creams–and traveled from Kittery to Fork Kent to find them. About two weeks and 10 pounds later, I finally settled in to write about my favorites. Problem was, they were all good, damn good. Many were standouts. One, which no longer exists, had me crazed.
Let’s face it, local ice cream will always taste better–it’s fresher. Mainers come up with some pretty interesting flavors, too (Jeff Shain of Shain’s of Maine has made jalapeno/cheddar cheese/salsa on nacho chips flavor).
And now that gelatto and sorbetto are the rage, we’re increasingly seeing those stands dotting the state. Most recently I stopped at Gelatto Fiasco, in Brunswick. Oh my! Simply deciding what to sample from the dozens of flavors was the first step–thank goodness it offered tastings. Another favorite gelatto/ice cream place is Morton’s, a hole in the wall tucked off Route 1, on School Street in downtown Ellsworth.
Last summer, I discovered Mt. Desert Ice Cream, in Bar Harbor; another master of flavors. On the other end of the coast is Fox’s, out by The Nubble, and, of course, The Goldenrod, in York Beach, and Big Daddy’s in Wells. Portland has Beal’s, on Wharf St.; Boothbay Harbor has The Ice Cream Factory and then there’s Round Top, in Damariscotta.
Inland, I never cruise up Route 26 without stopping at one of the two farms in Oxford, just south of Norway, Crestholm Farm Stand or Smedberg’s Crystal Spring Farm. Or up to Greenville without detouring to Butterfield’s, in Dover-Foxcroft. Or Augusta, without stopping at Webber’s, in Farmingdale. Of couse, there also are Smiley’s in Winslow and North Street Dairy Cone, in Waterville. The County has Houlton Farms. And…well, you get the point. Farm-made ice cream stands are everywhere in Maine.
And if you can’t find it at a farm stand, you can always find Gifford’s, Round Top or Shain’s at the local grocery.
Perhaps “Ice cream land” should replace “Vacationland” on the state license plates. People’s referendum, anyone?