Posted By Bruce Bilmes and Susan Boyle
6/11/2008 4:06:00 PM
Why does ice cream taste better in New England than anywhere else in the country? We don't have an answer, but as long as we keep travelling the area, we'll keep tasting. There are boutique, one-shop stores offering superb hand-crafted renditions, and there are small companies that also turn out a product superior to the national brands. Gifford's is one such Maine-owned ice cream maker that buys its cream locally and sells all over New England. Gifford's premium ice cream has an honest flavor that we never tire of.
Gifford's is sold at ice cream stands all over Maine, but we recommend a stop at one of the five company-owned dairy bars. The stand in Skowhegan opened in 1980, the same year Gifford's started making ice cream. It has a homey, old-fashioned feel. On one day they were offering 40 flavors; the Maine Wildberry combines blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries, while the Maine Black Fly is vanilla ice cream with chocolate bits (the flys) and strawberry swirls (the look of someone attacked by the flys?). Both are just outstanding. Also terrific is a refreshing orange-pineapple, a favorite flavor of ours that for some reason we never see below the New England/New York border, despite its tropical flavor profile. There's something called Caramel Caribou (one of a few Denali Alaskan flavors they make), which is for caramel addicts only (toffee ice cream, caramel ripples, Caramello-type candy). The dairy bars will also fix you up nicely with all sorts of frappes, sundaes, and sodas.