Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful: Ice Cream Pleasures

With the popularity of the Dark & Stormy cocktail, a mix of Gosling's Black Seal Rum and ginger beer, doesn't a Dark & Stormy flavored ice cream sound enticing? It does to me and I recently had the opportunity to sample one, which turned out to be absolutely delicious.

Reasons To Be Cheerful is a "dessert cafe" in West Concord, that opened in June 2011, and which primarily sells ice cream and crepes. The owner, Wade Rubenstein, was once a systems engineer but decided to significantly change gears and open an ice cream shop. The website states: "We make our ice cream in small batches using a natural, hormone free, 14% butterfat ice cream mix from the Bliss family dairy in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Our ice cream is made simply by mixing our sweet cream base with high quality flavorings." Many of their ingredients, if possible, are sourced locally and ice cream flavors vary seasonally as well. It intrigued me so I stopped by the shop to check it out.

The shop is located in a small business district of West Concord, amidst a number of quaint stores and buildings. Inside, it has a fun, ice cream parlor decor, with lots of bright colors and a hardwood floor. There are tables where you can sit, or you can sidle up to one of the tall seats at the counter pictured above. The store was very clean, which certainly is a positive sign.

The shop had 20 different ice cream flavors, plus 4 yogurts and 2 sorbets. Flavors vary from the common vanilla and chocolate chip to more unusual flavors like sweet azuki and ginger. Wade also likes creating ice creams using alcohol such as the milk chocolate Guiness and the Dark & Stormy. They produce frozen yogurt (5% butterfat) and tart frozen yogurt (less than .5% butterfat with active yogurt cultures) and their sorbets are non-dairy. Cone prices are Kiddie $3.15, Small $3.95, Medium $4.75, and Large $5.55. They also make a variety of Sundaes plus smoothies, frappes, egg creams, ice cream soda and rickeys. Egg creams and rickeys? Those are very retro additions.

I tasted several ice creams, and they freely offer samples to anyone who comes in so you can try a flavor before deciding to buy it or not. The vanilla, coconut almond chip, ginger, apple pie and sweet azuki were all tasty and possessed certain commonalities. The flavors were all rich, prominent, and well balanced so that you received exactly the flavor you desired. For example, sometimes you taste a wimpy vanilla ice cream, as if it were ashamed to showcase itself. But here, the vanilla was bold and proud, wanting you to enjoy its sweet vanilla taste. All of the flavors are like this, proud of who they are. This is impressive ice cream and you are going to love their bold flavors.

Of course I also tasted the Dark & Stormy, which is made with Gosling's Black Seal rum, candied ginger, fresh ginger juice, and molasses. Yes, it tasted very much like the cocktail and would satisfy the rum lover with a sweet tooth. Again, this ice cream was well balanced, with prominent flavors that were not afraid to shine forth. Mmm..maybe a Dark & Stormy sundae topped with a rum flavored caramel?

Besides the ice creams, they also serve both sweet ($5.25) and savory ($6.25) crepes.You could enjoy strawberries & Belgium chocolate or apples with brown sugar & cinnamon. Or go savory with smoked salmon & creme fraiche or tomatoes, mozzarella & basil. I ordered a Ham & Swiss cheese crepe, made from a buckwheat flour, which is a tradition in France for savory crepes. The crepe evidences lots of little black specks that you might suspect are spices or pepper, but it is just the buckwheat. The good-sized crepe was tasty, with a nice texture and plenty of fillings, and I would order them again.

I have suggested to Wade that, because of his love for making ice cream from alcohols, that he should produce an ice cream using Sake. A Nigori Sake, which can be sweet and present tropical fruit flavors, might work very well. Maybe a Sake Colada, with coconut & pineapple? There are so many possibilities.

So while traveling around locally this summer, make a stop in West Concord at Reasons To Be Cheerful and enjoy some excellent ice cream or a fine crepe.

Reasons To Be Cheerful on Urbanspoon

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