Saturday, July 29, 2006

The Great Ice Cream Lick-Off

The Capital Region is blessed with several options for ice cream indulgence. At the risk of my street cred, I am going to endorse as one of my favorites the Cold Stone Creamery chain. We went to the one in Stuyvesant Plaza the other night and it was packed. The ice cream itself is of superior quality, and then there is the whole 'add-in' thing, whereby you personalize your ice cream. You can ask for any kind of mix-in (Snickers, Heath bar, M&Ms, nuts, sprinkles, etc.) and the servers then pound it all into a sludgy cold gooey submission on a marble slab. It's part of a larger trend of everyone being their own movie star/dreammaker/barista/iPod music mixer. They give you choices, and I got the peanut butter/chocolate concoction. It was chocolate ice cream with Reese's peanut butter cups plus actual peanut butter mixed in.

Can I just say YUM?!? Intense chocolateyness, plus peanut buttery goodness.

I was torn, though, and in retrospect I think I should have gotten the strawberry cheesecake concoction or the birthday cake one (actual pieces of birthday cake thrown in, with sprinkles!!!) There will just have to be many other samplings.

I might suggest ordering the smallest size, just because of the richness of the ice cream. It must have a high cream content, so a little bit goes a long way. There's another Cold Stone Creamery in Saratoga.

The other option for ice cream is of course the Ben and Jerry's on Lark Street in Albany. And I'm never going to pass up the chance for good old politically correct and intensely delicious ice cream by them. Plus, they use REAL WHIPPED CREAM!!! That is a big bonus in my book. And their fudge sauce isn't too overly sweet. One of the problems is parking, though: where are you gonna park, say, on a Friday night!??! It's not like there's a whole lot of room to double park with your flashers on while your sweetie runs in and contemplates the 20 or so incredibly delicious flavors.

It's problematic.

The institution we have come to love almost in spite of ourselves right here in Troy is The Snowman in Lansingburgh. Here is an article from the Business Review about ice cream with information about the owner of the Snowman, who makes his ice cream from scratch. Add to that all the soft ice cream options your heart could ever desire (vanilla and orange sherbert swirl for creamsicle effect cone, butterscotch or chocolate dipped cones, low-fat sherbert....) and you have a real conundrum. Pencil in about an hour's time just to decide what on earth out of all this sinful goodness you want. Recently I've had Maple Walnut, which was quite good. Their chocolate is okay, but not nearly as chocolately as Cold Stone's. Snowman tends towards the sweeter side of things, whereas I prefer less sugar, more flavor.

However, the Snowman is a social scene. Go on a Friday or Saturday night around 8 pm and you'll see everyone there: old, young, and in between lined up for their cold sugary goodness. It's so nice to see people out enjoying themselves in the Capital Region, where more often than not people are rushing around being workaholics.

The Snowman is on 5th Ave around 114th Street in Lansingburgh.

The article in the Business Review also mentions a place called Moxie's near Emma Willard which I'd love to try.

Happy lickings folks.

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