Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Out of the Kitchen: Tour de Hard Ice Cream

Five very different kiddie-sized chocolate ice cream cones: from left, Farmer's Daughters', Ice Cream Man, Snowman, Mac's, Moxie's On Saturday, my fiancé and I sacrificed our waistlines in the name of science (yeah, that's it) at the Profussor's Tour de Hard Ice Cream.

We had a short list of flavors that would be available at all five stops, so we could do a side-by-side comparison: Butter pecan, chocolate, coffee, maple walnut, strawberry and vanilla. After much consideration, I went with chocolate. (My fiancé went with strawberry.)

Farmer's Daughters' The first stop was the Farmer’s Daughters’ Drive-In, on Route 29 east of Saratoga Springs. The chocolate ice cream here was ... well, it was chocolate ice cream. Honestly, it reminded me of the half-gallons of Sealtest my parents would get when I was little -- sorta chocolate-y but not a lot, and tasting a bit like freezer, with a few ice crystals. It was ho-hum ice cream. And they had an upcharge for a sugar cone, which I think it crap -- come on, there's no way that bulk-ordered sugar cones are so expensive that they need to charge extra for them.

Ice Cream Man Now that we had a baseline for our ratings, we headed to The Ice Cream Man in Greenwich. What a difference there was: This stuff was richly cocoa-y and had a thick texture reminiscent of Ben & Jerry's. It was so good that I ate it too quickly and gave myself an ice cream headache. And there was no upcharge for a sugar cone, and the cone itself had a sizeable portion of ice cream for just two bucks -- it was about the size of a regular "small" portion, except that this was the "kiddie" size. We've been there once before, and this is par for the course: the last time we went to The Ice Cream Man, I got a "small," and it filled a waffle cone!

The Snowman The next stop was a ways away, at the much-vaunted Snowman in Troy. The bloggers around here have talked this place up so much that I was sure it would be phenomenal. But instead, it kinda sucked. First off, they didn't even have sugar cones! What kind of ice cream place doesn't have sugar cones? That was just nuts. And this was the only place that didn't have any seating in the shade, no shade at all in fact, not a single awning or umbrella or anything. And to top it off, the ice cream was lousy -- the chocolate flavor was dusty and muted, and that's once I got past the odd sweet taste in the first few bites cause by the scooper not being rinsed off properly between my fiancé's strawberry dish and my cone. But it could have been worse. My ice cream was just bad, but his strawberry ice cream was aggressively bad, blatantly disgusting, sickly-sweet and almost bubblegum-like. We both threw ours out without finishing them. The only good thing I can say about The Snowman is that at least the ice cream was the cheapest of the day. Still, it was worth even less than that.

Mac's Our taste buds needed relief after that, but thankfully, we got it at Mac's Drive-In in Watervliet. Their ice cream was perhaps a little bit thinner, and the sugar cones, which they charged for (grrrr), seemed thinner as well -- mine cracked while I was eating the ice cream on top. But the ice cream had a good, if not great, cocoa flavor, and the price was reasonable. I'd stop here if I was nearby, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it.

Moxie's And then, we headed over the river to Moxie's, which seemed like a straightforward and mostly-familiar trip on paper, yet we ended up getting lost on the way there anyway. At least we weren't the only ones who got lost, so that made it a bit better. But despite the fact that this place has also been hyped up a lot by area bloggers, it wasn't really worth finding. The ice cream lacked flavor, and there were clumps of cocoa powder in it that hadn't been mixed in properly. They charged extra for a sugar cone, too. The serving of ice cream was teeny. And to top it off, theirs was the most expensive cone of the day. What a rip-off.

The Ice Cream Man was the clear winner of the day, for both chocolate and strawberry, we concluded. As for the Profussor's compiled ratings, they largely agreed, though oddly enough, those who tasted butter pecan preferred The Snowman. Even a bad place can usually do something right, I guess. But as for us, I think we'll stick to The Ice Cream Man.

10 comments:

  1. This is why the tours are so important. I had been perfectly happy with many of my choices at The Snowman in the past. But putting it back-to-back against other ice cream shops across a variety of flavors really revealed a significant weakness.

    All the same, considering the strength of the Butter Pecan, the geographic proximity, and the value, I'll keep on going back to the Snowman. And I can also definitively say that The Ice Cream Man lives up to the hype (at least when compared to local ice cream joints).

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    1. ...Just as long as you stick to the butter pecan, right? :)

      (Funny how big of a role geography plays, though -- Ice Cream Man's out of the way a bit, but it's still closer to Saratoga Springs, which is somewhere I usually go more often than I go to Troy. If I spent more time near/in Troy, I'd probably favor Mac's.)

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  2. That's great news about the lack of up charge for a waffle cone which is definitely my preference. I liked the Ice Cream Man a lot and it’s in my neighborhood, relatively speaking. Next time I want to try the fish fry in the parking lot!

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    1. Sugar cone -- there probably is an upcharge for a waffle cone, which at least would be reasonable, seeing as they're bigger and often made in-house.

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  3. You just have to go for the orange vanilla twist at snowman!

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  4. I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thinks Moxie's doesn't live up to the hype. Don't get me wrong, the owners are dear-hearted, lovely people, but my goodness, the price! And the ice cream has such subdued, faint flavor. =(

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    1. Yes.

      The few times I've gone there the ice cream had pieces of ice in it and the flavor was not as good as Snowman. Don't know if that is what gourmet is but I do not want hard pieces of ice in my dinky, overpriced ice cream.

      Just seems to be a hip-yuppie type place whose image is what sells the ice cream.

      Fail.

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  5. I disagree about Moxie's. I think it's made differently than most other places. I don't know this for sure, but I suspect they use less sugar and more fat, which makes it ever so creamy, but less sweet. Our American palates aren't used to the less sweet. It's almost more like custard, which is a delicacy in the Rochester area. But, those are my two cents...

    Plus, the surroundings are beautiful, the grounds are family friendly and well maintained. When we go, which admittedly isn't often because it's a treat in the wallet and the waistline, I think of it as paying for both dessert and an activity for the kids. Well worth the price of admission.

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  6. I like Moxie's for their Indonesian Vanilla. Sadly, chocolate bothers my stomach.(doctors and online have no clue what I'm talking about) So I have to get my ice cream joy without the benefit of chocolate. I also like the Ice Cream Mann, but the last two times, I got similar stomach issues. I thought it might have been the use of the Battenkill milk, but their ice cream doesn't bother me. Makes no sense! I will suggest you take an extended trip to the Battenkill Creamery for some good ice cream! Mac's in Vliet is much better than I would have thought.

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