No one ever said ice cream was just for summer, but hot days do seem to call for cold treats. Thanks to continued innovation from Vermont’s food entrepreneurs, cool new places are always popping up.
Here’s a fresh crop of frosty, creamy indulgences, from farm-fresh ice creams to milkshakes — straight up, boozy and vegan. We also discovered cones of distinction and a new scoop shop born of an old favorite.
— Melissa Pasanen
Berry to Belly
Full Belly Farm, 686 Davis Rd., Monkton, 453-3793, fullbellyfarmvt.com
I’ll drive out of my way to Monkton for Full Belly Farm’s berries. Somehow, the proximity of the strawberry patches and raspberry and blueberry bushes to the pre-picked punnets at the farmstand makes them all the sweeter and juicier.
Those nearby berries account for the fresh-from-the-fields flavor of the creemees that Full Belly Farm began offering last summer. A truck parked beside the farmstand serves up a fruit-infused option to enjoy alone or twisted with the Vermont-classic maple. Prices range from $3.50 to $4.75, depending on size.
On a recent visit, I opted for a cone of pure raspberry. Sprinkles are available for 25 cents, but I didn’t want anything to distract my palate from the berry blast. Blended into a base from East Hardwick’s Kingdom Creamery of Vermont, the berries brought a gorgeous shade of pink and a delicate tartness to balance the sweet. The creemee was laden with seeds, because berries have seeds. I was happy to trade super-smooth consistency for a sure sign that I was enjoying the real thing.
My husband’s maple twist was equally delicious, though the richness of the syrup almost overpowered the subtle fruit.
Full Belly Farm runs a popular pick-your-own operation on its rolling green expanse. Although I’m too lazy and heat averse to do my own picking, I see the appeal of gathering luscious fruit, then strolling up the hill to cool off at a picnic table with a treat made from that same berry bounty.
— Carolyn Shapiro
Shaking It Up
The Great Eddy, 40 Bridge St., Waitsfield, 496-2339, thegreateddy.com
From 2001 to 2007, Kellee Mazer ran Kellee’s Creemee & Grill in Waterbury. This summer, Mazer returned to the creemee and snack bar business. She and her husband, Josh, opened the Great Eddy in Waitsfield’s village center and named it for the covered bridge visible from the restaurant’s riverside patio.
The menu, developed with Vermont restaurant consultant Brian Lewis, ranges from smash burgers to fried chicken sandwiches with top-notch onion rings and fries. But what caught my eye were the boozy milkshakes for $13 to $14. Flavors include the Framboise, made with vanilla ice cream, Chambord raspberry liqueur and frozen raspberries; and the Mudslide, with chocolate and vanilla ice creams, vodka, Baileys Original Irish Cream, and Kahlúa.
How had I never before tasted such enticing-sounding beverages?
The milkshakes start with 10 percent-fat Hood creemee base in a top-of-the-line machine that Lewis said produces an exceptionally thicker, creamier creemee.
My husband and I ordered the Almond Joy, a vanilla base plus Malibu rum, Godiva chocolate liqueur and almond syrup; and the Key Lime Pie, which adds fresh lime juice and tequila to a vanilla creemee and Malibu base and is finished with whipped cream and graham cracker crumbs.
The Great Eddy also serves booze-free shakes in chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, maple, coffee and vanilla-bacon, $6 or $8 depending on the size. But, for those who imbibe, the booze-enriched milkshakes are a doubly intoxicating experience when enjoyed with a view of the Mad River.
Get the Scoop
Island Homemade Ice Cream Scoop Shop, 21 Commerce St., Williston, 881-3030, islandhomemadeicecream.com
Sometimes it feels like creemees get all the summer love in Vermont, but locally made hard ice cream has fans, too. Over the past 19 years, Island Homemade Ice Cream has built a solid wholesale pint and single-serving cup business with distribution in New England and New York.
As of July 22, locals can get their favorite Vermont maple walnut, double chocolate supreme or red raspberry sorbet by the scoop at the company’s new retail shop, just off Williston Road a few doors over from its factory. Two years after Bob Lake bought the company in 2020, he moved production from Grand Isle to a former Sealtest Dairy ice cream plant in Williston.
The spacious 1,400-square-foot scoop shop boasts overhead beams that probably date back to around 1945, when the building was a teacup hook factory, according to Lake. A shiny new dipping case holds an array of freshly made flavors, including fan favorites such as Vermont maple bacon and island coconut, which are harder to find in stores.
Island Homemade uses a dairy base from Kingdom Creamery of Vermont. A small cup or cone costs $5.25, and a large, $6.25, with toppings such as sprinkles and M&Ms for 50 to 75 cents extra. The shop also sells pints and ice cream pies and will gradually expand its offerings to include sundaes.
When the company announced the opening of the scoop shop earlier this year, director of operations Maura Fitzgerald told Seven Days that people frequently knocked on the factory door for scoops and it was “really sad” to turn them away.
Now, Fitzgerald said, it’s gratifying to have direct interaction with happy customers — especially kids. “It’s just wonderful to see their faces,” she said.
Lilac Ridge Farm, 264 Ames Hill Rd., Brattleboro, @LilacRidgeFarm on Instagram
As organic dairy farms across the state strive to stay in business, those that succeed are diversifying as much as they can. Ross Thurber and Amanda Ellis-Thurber of Lilac Ridge Farm started producing maple syrup decades ago, and their organic veggies, flowers and pick-your-own berries are a local mainstay.
Their most recent venture appeared in June, between their farmstand, the cow barn, and a field full of Swiss chard and sunflowers. It’s a shiny red trailer where they sell maple and chocolate creemees made with certified organic local milk — the only organic creemees on the East Coast, according to Ellis-Thurber.
Lilac Ridge sends all its milk to the Organic Valley cooperative, so the Thurbers teamed up with Vernon farmer Pete Miller, whose cows graze fewer than 10 miles away. The Thurbers were already selling Miller the maple syrup that goes into his creamline maple milk, and a creemee collaboration seemed like a delicious next step.
Miller developed vanilla and chocolate creemee-base recipes, and the Thurbers added their maple syrup to the mix. The resulting maple creemee is intensely milky and rich with a slight caramel undertone; the chocolate is almost fudgy but not too sweet. Prices range from $3 for a kiddie cone or cup to $7 for a regular.
Sold by young teens wearing “FARMY” T-shirts, Lilac Ridge creemees appeal not only to ice cream fans but also to people “who are excited about organic food, interested in supporting organic farms and want the most local premium product they can get,” Ellis-Thurber said.
And, her husband added, those products pair farm-fresh dairy and maple — “two things that are important in Vermont’s working landscape.”
— Jennifer Sutton
The Cones Stand Alone
Red Hen Baking, 961 Route 2, Middlesex, 223-5200, redhenbaking.com
I’m a cup girl; I rarely order ice cream in a cone. But at Red Hen Baking, I came close to returning to the creemee window to inquire about buying the exceptionally good waffle cones to take home. I would wager that these cornets — dark bronze, crisp, not too sweet, slightly nutty — are the only ones in the country that feature locally sourced whole wheat flour freshly ground by the cone maker.
This is no great surprise given that Red Hen is first and foremost a bakery, which proudly sources organic regional grains and mills some of them on-site.
The creemee window was born out of the pandemic, when Red Hen’s married co-owners Randy George and Eliza Cain added an outdoor service window. After customers returned inside, Cain said, the couple asked themselves, “In Vermont, if you have a window, what do you do with it?” Creemees were the natural answer.
And if you’re Red Hen, you make the cones with stone-milled flour from Elysian Fields in Shoreham combined with local milk, butter, egg whites, organic sugar, vanilla and almond extracts, and salt.
One of the two creemee flavors on offer is always maple made with syrup from Mad River Maple Syrup in Middlesex blended into a dairy base from Pennsylvania. (George is working on Vermont sourcing.) Rotating second flavors — which are dreamed up by longtime employee Abbie Bowles — have included Earl Grey, fresh mint, chocolate tahini and blackberry lemon. A small cup or cone costs $4.75 and a large, $5.75, with 90-cent toppings including maple dust. “We say go with the cone,” the menu urges. I say, no contest.
Shake and Crêpe
The Skinny Pancake, locations in Burlington, Montpelier, Stowe, Quechee and Albany, N.Y., skinnypancake.com
The problem with the milkshakes at the Skinny Pancake — if one can find a problem with milkshakes — is that every flavor is one of my favorites: vanilla, chocolate, maple and espresso. The four classics are standard offerings at all locations of the Burlington-born crêperie group except those at Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport, and all can be made vegan.
How do you choose?
Corral your daughter and two of her friends, as I did last week, head to the crêperie’s Burlington waterfront location, order three flavors and share. We opted for maple — the bestseller — espresso and vegan chocolate. Served in pint glasses ($6.89 each, plus 75 cents for whipped cream), the shakes were thick and rich and satisfied the dessert cravings we’d brought to the table.
Milkshakes are a new offering for the Skinny Pancake and a victory for director of business development Michael Cyr.
“For years, a few of us were sort of this silent contingency asking for milkshakes,” Cyr said, “because if you go to a lot of these small crêperies across the country, especially in New York City, it’s like ‘crêpes and milkshakes, crêpes and milkshakes.’ They tend to go really well together.”
The company formula for shakes is pure, simple and very Vermont: vanilla ice cream from Wilcox’s Premium Ice Cream in East Arlington, whole and chocolate milk from Monument Farms Dairy in Weybridge, maple syrup from Rise Sugarworks in Lincoln, and freshly brewed espresso from Vermont Artisan Coffee & Tea in Waterbury Center.
Wilcox’s nondairy vanilla ice cream — made of an oat- and coconut-milk blend — plus more oat milk provide the base for vegan varieties.
Watch for occasional specials, such as raspberry or blueberry — and keep an eye out for boozy shakes. Choosing may get even harder.
— Mary Ann Lickteig
Thyme for Ice Cream
Wilson Farm, 2747 Hardwick St., Greensboro, 533-2233, wilsonherbfarm.com
In 2020, when herb growers Lindsay and Brenden Beer opened a store at Wilson Farm in Greensboro, they envisioned themselves as growers of sage and thyme and makers of spice blends and healing teas.
To honor the history of their land — formerly an organic produce farm with a store jam-packed with local goods — they lined their shelves with staples and treats from more than 100 food producers and artists, mostly from Vermont. They sold scoops of Gifford’s ice cream from a cute cut-out window.
But then Mark Simakaski and Nichole Wolfgang, owners of Groton’s Artesano Mead in Vermont and erstwhile ice cream makers, decided to sell their frozen dessert setup. The Beers couldn’t pass it up.
In 2022, they began selling creative concoctions that make delicious use of their own herbs added to a hard ice cream base. Flavors include cinnamon basil, lemon verbena and their most popular, rosemary maple sea salt. The less adventurous can choose from classic flavors such as cookies and cream, black raspberry, chocolate and vanilla.
Wilson Farm ice cream is scooped into a choice of three kinds of cones or compostable cups with optional sprinkles. A small costs $5 and a large, $7, plus $1 for cones. The farm store carries pints, too.
The herbal ice creams boast a gorgeous, muted color palette and harvest-driven flavors you’ve probably never experienced before. On one visit, chamomile rose was soft and fragrant, golden milk carried spicier notes of ginger and turmeric, and sage strawberry was surprisingly tangy and refreshing.
Greensboro may be a bit of a drive, but it’s worth leaving the burbs to get your herbs.
— Suzanne Podhaizer
Read More: Seven Sweet Summery Spots for Frozen Treats