Northern New England Hiking Trails
Hikes & Trails in Maine, New Hampshire & Vermont
Every year, thousands of tourists descend upon Waterbury, Vermont, not just to bask in the splendor of the Green Mountains, but to see the home of Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream. Visitors can sample Ben & Jerry’s flavors like; Chunky Monkey and Phish Food, tour the factory, browse the gift shop, or hang out at the company’s annual outdoor movie festival.
However, Northern New England also offers ice cream’s cold pleasures on a smaller scale with dozens of scoop shops that dot the highways and byways of New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine. To feature your favorite Northern New England ice cream shop, please contact us.
In Unity, New Hampshire, Tracy Bragdon owns and runs Brick Farm Ice Cream, a small, seasonally owned scoop shop that’s literally in her yard. Bragdon and her family live on what used to be a dairy farm and always thought they should open an ice cream stand someday. In 2001, they did just that, and since then, the Brick Farm Ice Cream shop has become a staple of summer in the Unity area. Bragdon says that anyone who comes to the shop has to go out of their way to do so, and she has resisted calls to move into town. Out of the way or not, people do come, year after year, and Bragdon says it’s fun to see families return every summer and watch their kids grow up.
Bragdon calls ice cream a comfort food, a “carefree, barefoot in the grass, summer thing.”
“It brings us all back to our childhood and the comfort of our home and family,” she says. Ice cream has long been a part of Bragdon’s own family. More than a decade ago, her husband bought an antique Good Humor truck and drives it around town, selling cold confections dressed in full ice cream man regalia. “He’s always been the ice cream man,” she says. “It kind of called to us.”
For Jeff Shain, owner of Shain’s of Maine, ice cream is all about the flavors. His Sanford, Maine-based ice cream shop serves 90 different flavors, in addition to selling wholesale. Jeff prides himself on making his ice cream intense, as well as tasty.
“I put a lot of junk in it,” he says, adding that his goal is to make popular flavors even better. Shain adds whole peanut butter cups to Maine Tracks, his spin on moose tracks, and has developed cookie dough that’s made with no eggs.
“It’s like you stuck your finger in a bowl in your house when your mom was making cookies; same flavor and grittiness, huge chunks,” he says.
Yet for a man who has created ice cream flavors like green tea and even jalapeño cheddar cheese salsa (in a bid to win a most-unusual flavor contest), Shain prefers a classic: His favorite flavor is vanilla.
Further south in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, a steady stream of young and old trickle in and out of Annabelle’s Ice Cream. The fact that it’s tucked away on a small street that runs between the waterfront and a main thoroughfare doesn’t detract from its popularity and accolades. Glowing reviews and awards hang along side snapshots of happy, return customers and employees.
All of Annabelle’s Ice Cream is homemade, kosher, and all natural, says owner Dr. Lewis Palosky. Unlike many shops that begin their ice creams with pre-made mixes, Annabelle’s makes its own, starting with eggs, cane sugar, and cream. The result is an ultra-dense and creamy 16% butterfat ice cream. Annabelle’s also doesn’t use any artificial colors or flavors, so you won’t see any bright green pistachio ice cream here.
Palosky, who supplies several Annabelle’s locations throughout New England and is building another in Maine, says that the ice cream has a devoted following. People make annual summer pilgrimages, have their favorites shipped across the country, and park illegally to dash inside for a cone. Although French vanilla is the most-popular, Annabelle’s rotates its flavors and always experiments with new ones, such as blueberry, ginger, and New Hampshire maple walnut.
Yet for Palosky, the ice cream business seems to be as much about the people who eat it as the ice cream itself. “It’s a happy business,” he says.
- by Alex Pecci
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