I've always been a sucker for a soft serve cone during the hot sunny days of summer. It was always a treat for us when we were kids to have Mom call us in on a Saturday evening after dinner and have us pile into the car (this was the 60's so it was a Ford Fairlane wagon, maroon with wood sides; in the early 70's it was Dad's VW microbus, beige and white) and off Mom and Dad would take us to Tasty Top in Easthampton (where we lived) or Frosty Cap in Amherst, and occasionally a dairy bar in Deerfield. For my sister it was always a vanilla cone. Mom loved orange pineapple when they had it. Dad, my brother and I were chocolate ice cream cone aficionados! Occasionally our miniature Schnauzer, Max, got a little dish of vanilla ice cream.
Incredibly, Tasty Top is still open (despite years of threats of being torn down to make way for a Stop & Shop. I do not like strawberry anything (allergic to strawberries, real ones) but when I was pregnant with Kelly I had to have strawberry ice cream cones.
Astonishingly, Kelly did not like ice cream when she was a baby, nor when she was little. This was unbelievable to us. I had to bring her cookies when John and I went for ice cream, and bear the dark looks of other parents who though we were neglecting our daughter by not getting her ice cream. She didn't start eating ice cream until she was seven or eight years old. Since then, she loves chocolate and coffee ice cream only, or chocolate mocha when she can find it. Any other flavor- no!
We're fortunate to have a number of ice cream stands in our area. The best homemade ice cream is at the Gran-Val Scoop way out in Granville MA on a farm where they have cows, baby cows, llamas and a donkey, and chickens. It smells like a farm, but you can eat inside, or if you don't mind the country air, walk around and enjoy visits with the animals outdoors.
Sheldon's in Southampton is located in an old mill where one of my former boyfriends used to play when he was a kid. It was rundown and abandoned then but has been transformed into a nice ice cream shop with indoor and outdoor areas to enjoy your treats.
Here in town we have the Northside Creamery on Southampton Road. There is ice cream at Zubers on the south west side of town. Easthampton also has, I believe, Mount Tom Ice Cream (homemade). We haven't tried that one yet.
As summer begins to wind down we went out tonight to Tasty Top to enjoy some soft serve. Nothing is as satisfying as a cold treat on a hot summer evening.