Hard to believe, but this is the first FussyLittleBlog tour that I have been able to attend. I've come close a few times. It seems like there was always something in the way. Luckily, my first tour was one not only the whole family could enjoy, but also really wanted to go on as well: a tour of 5 soft serve ice cream stands.
Here's the idea: you get the same thing at all 5 places, you fill out a score sheet scoring a few variables and jot down any comments you have on the back. I thought we were going to have a family score sheet, but Daniel gave one to everybody. Though the girls hid their excitement pretty well, they were kind of thrilled to have their own score cards. Weights were also taken to so that a "value" category could also be judged. This is what we ordered:
Jon: kiddie cup of vanilla
Amy: kiddie cone of chocolate/vanilla twist with rainbow sprinkles
Allison: kiddie cone of vanilla with rainbow sprinkles
Casey: kiddie cup of vanilla with rainbow sprinkles
I wasn't a very good photojournalist during this tour. My picture taking was spotty at best.
We started off in Clifton Park and DeVoe's on Route 9..
Jon: Texture was a little fake, light and airy, kind of like a creamier Cool Whip, light aftertaste - but I could still taste it at the next stop.
Amy: Chocolate overpowered the vanilla, bottom of the cone was crunchy, had an aftertaste, mostly from the vanilla
Allison: bottom of the cone was crunchy, tasted weird after, large for a kiddie, good amount of sprinkles.
Casey: Hole in the middle, large, good amount of sprinkles, creamy.
You can kind of see what I mean about the extra air. Non of the other stands served something with this shape.
And here's that hole Casey mentioned. That was also something we didn't encounter for the rest of the tour.
Next stop, JJ's in Ballston Spa
This is pretty much what I think of when I think Drive-In. I took a picture of JJ's as we drove away, didn't bother to take a picture while we were there. Here are the comments:
Jon: It was creamy, not airy. Not much vanilla flavor. Much better.
Amy:Creamy and smooth, nice texture, vanilla not as strong flavor, chocolate very good, no bad aftertaste
Allison: Not that much sprinkles, aftertaste better, more kiddie sized
Casey: creamy. good amount of sprinkles, good size
I was stunned at the difference between the first two stops. The differences over the next three stops weren't as big. After two stops under our belts, we did what seems to come natural when being led by Daniel - stop for some food. The tour took a pit stop to Kelly's Mini Hot Dogs. I've heard of it but never visited. We each got a mini dog. If we weren't on a tour, I think I would have gone for something off their griddle. The dogs were good, and in the spirit of the tour, Casey expanded her score sheet to rate her plain mini hot dog.
And her comments:
Hot dog place - great tasting cheese, good tasting bun, nice tasting hot dog. Fast service.
I should ask what caught her attention with the bun and why she dinged it a point.
From Kelly's, we set off for Humpty Dumpty in Saratoga.
Humpty Dumpty had the biggest lines we encountered on the tour. Not Sure if it was location, timing or popularity, but they were running at least a 5 minute wait the whole time we were there.
Jon: Very similar to JJ's, better vanilla flavor, seemed pricy, small size may have helped with the tour
Amy: Creamy and smooth, strong vanilla flavor, good chocolate flavor, sprinkles OK, no bad aftertaste
Allison: good amount of sprinkles
Casey: creamy, good size, good amount of sprinkles
The kids were really into the tour and took the judging pretty seriously.
And one thing I've noticed from the kids' comments - don't skimp on the sprinkles. They'll notice.
Off to the other side of Saratoga and the Dairy Haus.
This stand had a lot of hard ice cream flavors I wanted to try, but it was a day of soft serve. Here's what we thought:
Jon: Really dense and creamy, you have to pull the spoon out, vanilla was a little weak, if I hadn't eaten 3 servings, this is what I think of when I think soft serve.
Amy: great texture, dense, creamy, smooth. best yet.
Allison: Good amount of sprinkles, large for kid's size
Casey:creamy, great tasting sprinkles, good amount of sprinkles, large size
From the Dairy Haus we set off to the final stop on the tour, The Farmer's Daughter. It's a nice roadside kind of joint.
They've even got a cow head on the side of the wall. As we left, a woman was taking a picture of the cow head as her husband pretended not to know her. I told her not to feel bad, I had already taken the same picture.
Jon: this seems pretty similar to Dairy Haus, my cup was cracked
Amy: no additional comments, just scores
Allison:Texture was good, toppings were alright, so was vanilla
Casey: Dense texture, good amount of sprinkles, good tasting sprinkles, good size.
I'll leave the number crunching to Daniel, but here's what we put down as answers to "Which was your favorite, and why?"
Jon: I'd rate Dairy Haus and Farmer's Daughter the same, but the edge goes to Dairy Haus for value
Amy: Dairy Haus - best flavors with the best consistency and texture, good heft and density
Allison: Dairy Haus because texture and toppings were good
Casey: My favorite was Dairy Haus because the texture was very creamy and the sprinkles were great tasting.
The family basically cast one big vote. I hope we didn't throw off the tour's statistical relevance. This was quite a tour. I learned a lot about soft serve. Mainly,
that I don't really like that soft serve vanilla cone I've been getting
for years and years. It's ok, and some are definitely better than
others, but even when it's good, it's not great. Steve pretty much summed it up in his write up of the tour: the experience is better than the soft serve. The hot
summer evening, after a softball game, a special stop on the ride
home...the experience. I think I'll be taking a break from vanilla soft serve cones for either hard ice cream or at least a soft serve flavor. After the ice cream tour, a bunch of us headed off to 9 Miles East Farm for a
pizza dinner. That will have to be a post on its own (Casey made a
scorecard for the pizza too).
After a parental award winning day of feeding our children nothing but ice cream and pizza with a break for a mini hot dog, we headed off to my in-laws for the night. On the way to their house, we made a stop at a long time favorite ice cream stand. Dairy Frost in Perth. After a day of just ok vanilla, would the old standby hold up? There would never be a better day to judge.
We got two kiddie sizes (they are called baby size at Dairy Frost) to share, one vanilla and one raspberry twist. Each cost $1.70. I didn't have a scale, but I know these were the biggest portions of the day. Even though it seemed a little better through rose colored glasses, the vanilla was probably the same as Dairy Haus and Farmer's Daughter. The raspberry twist was great. Our Dairy Haus voting bloc agreed, the best of the day was Dairy Frost. If you ever find yourself where Route 30 hits Rt 29 north of Amsterdam, stop and pick up a cone.
Many thanks to Daniel. We really enjoyed our first tour.