I take great pleasure in stopping in at any gelato shop or ice cream parlor I see.
When I was in Montana a few years ago my family and I stopped at a small general store in the town of East Glacier, just outside the entrance to Glacier National Park. It was an old brown building filled with all sorts of trinkets and necessities, and, over in a corner, there was an ice cream counter. In the glass case there was something I had never seen before: huckleberry ice cream, a deep purply-blue, similar to blueberry ice cream. Both my brother and I tried it, and it tasted creamy and fresh. To this day it remains one of the most unique frozen treats I’ve ever tried.
It naturally excited me, then, when I found watermelon ice cream at the new Race Farm Cafe across from Blairstown’s Acme. Now perhaps I just haven’t seen enough, but I’ve never before come across watermelon ice cream. I’ve had watermelon soda at Disneyworld, but ice cream—never. The Race Farm Cafe opened its doors recently, and their foods and treats are made in the farm kitchen at Race Farm. They even sell some produce, though much of that is left to the Race Farm Market across from Blairstown Dairy.
When Chriss Liu and I visited the Cafe and Creamery yesterday, we were greeted with free sample cones (in celebration of the Cafe’s opening) and an array of unique, intriguing flavors. As I mentioned, watermelon caught my eye, and when I tried it I was surprised to find it not at all watered down like its namesake melon, but rich, sweet, and creamy, with a strong and noticeable, yet not overwhelming, overtone of summery melon flavor. Other flavors included vanilla snickers, raspberry, salted caramel, coffee, and dark chocolate.
I didn’t hold back. After taste-testing, I ordered coffee, vanilla snicker, and raspberry (three scoops—a large). At $4.50 for a large ice cream, the prices at the Creamery are reasonable, though the serving size is less than one might expect. A small is truly a small—baby small—and even a large consists of relatively moderate scoops. Nevertheless, the ice cream was full of honest flavor, and, savoring every bite, the volume mattered less. The dessert was truly a craft ice cream, something I’ve come across rarely in my (still pretty short) life. Donelly’s near my home town, Tutto Gelato in Quebec City, and Gelato Fiasco in Brunswick, Maine, come to mind, but they are uncommon gems.
The ambiance of the store, too, makes for a pleasant visit, and there are picnic tables out front to enjoy your frozen treat or reuben sandwich on a nice day. The staff is friendly, the inside cool and well-kept, and soon, a sign says, they will begin serving vegan soft-serve. Though the prices are slightly higher than at Blairstown Dairy, the quality of the desserts—delicacies, really—set Race Farm Cafe and Creamery apart, and make it worth the trip. The store is open until eight each night.
(Copyright 2017 Tys Sweeney)