By Liz Johnson
When my grandmother was a girl growing up during the Depression, she’d take bike rides into the countryside with her father on hot, summer afternoons. Along the way, they would stop at a general store where the owner would be out on the front step with a wooden bucket that had a hand crank attached to the top of it. He’d be churning away a concoction of cream, sugar, salt, ice and vanilla. My mouth watered as she described the creamy delicacy her father would purchase for them before heading home.
Today, ice cream is a $20 billion a year industry, with Americans consuming 22 pounds of it a year. Our love affair has spilled over into variations of it such as sorbet, gelato, Italian water ice and frozen yogurt. And there are plenty of places in Hunterdon County to indulge in the creamy delight. Here are just a few:
237 North Union Street, Lambertville
Made with local cream, eggs and honey, this popular ice cream store is a 2016 Hunterdon Happening List winner for Best Ice Cream (and continual finalist). In addition to traditional flavors (including three types of vanilla ice cream), selections include rosewater cardamom, lemon ginger, sunbutter and jelly and cinnamon bourbon.
Jimmy’s Ice Cream
525 Milford Warren Glen Road, Milford
This 1950s-era ice cream walk-up stand is a local favorite, offering both soft and hard ice cream and frozen yogurt as well as hot food. The Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Best Ice Cream is popular as a place to stop after a team sporting event. Don’t let the long line put you off. Service is swift. Go early and take in a round of miniature golf next door.
Red Barn Milk Company
392 Route 31, Ringoes
A partnership between Hun-Val Dairy Farm of Ringoes and Double Brook Farm of Hopewell, this Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Best Ice Cream uses local and seasonal ingredients for the creamy confection that’s served from April through October. Enjoy your treat while sitting on the spacious lawn surrounding the iconic red barn.
Gronsky’s Milk House
125 W. Main Street, High Bridge
Family-owned since 1978 by Jackie and Steve Gronsky, this Hunterdon Happening List Winner is a favorite stop-off for mountain bikers and hikers of the nearby starting point of the Columbia Trail.
Ice cream’s smoother, silkier and denser cousin gelato uses more milk, less cream and fewer eggs, making it lower in fat. Here are a few local places worth sampling the Italian delicacy:
1013 Route 12, Frenchtown
A Hunterdon Happening List Finalist for Best Italian Restaurant, Café Maria’s makes its own gelato with flavors such as Nutella and hazelnut. Go for dessert, stay for dinner.
23 North Union Street, Lambertville
Gelato and a coffee bar are the first things to greet you when you walk into this restored Victorian that serves as both a restaurant and art gallery. A Hunterdon Happening List Finalist, it’s one of the go-to places for local color in Lambertville.
This frozen dairy treat rose to popularity in the 1970s and now can be found at most ice cream establishments. Considered a healthier choice than ice cream, it’s often lower in fat, sugar and carbohydrates and yet just as delicious and filling. Here are a few places to try:
Just Chill Frozen Yogurt
47 Main Street, Clinton
Hunterdon Happening List Winner for Best Frozen Yogurt, this Clinton establishment offers a host of healthy ice cream alternatives, from sugar-free frozen yogurt to sorbets that contain no fat, sodium or cholesterol.
Thee Ice Cream Parlor
463 Route 22, Flemington
An old-fashion ice cream parlor offering more than 80 flavors, its frozen yogurt – which is both fat and sugar free – landed it as a finalist for Best Frozen Yogurt on Hunterdon Happening’s List. Flavors include pumpkin, red velvet cupcake, tiramisu and root beer.
A frozen treat made from water, sugar and fruit, Italian water ice is firmer than a slushy, softer than sorbet and smoother than granita.
Rita’s Italian Water Ice
23 Route 12, Flemington
This Hunterdon Happening Winner for Best Italian Water Ice is always a summer favorite. The franchise has another location in Whitehouse as well as food trucks that are a common appearance at many Hunterdon County festivals and events.