Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ice Cream Utopia in State College, PA

One of the great things about traveling is finding new places to eat your favorite things. One of my favorite things to eat is ice cream, so when I get to a new location, I usually try to find out if there are any interesting ice cream places that I need to check out. This pursuit has led me to some of the best ice cream that I have ever had. So far, my top pick for ice cream is The Berkey Creamery, which is located in State College, Pennsylvania.

The Berkey Creamery (herein referred to as The Creamery) at Pennsylvania State University is, in my opinion, the pinnacle of ice cream achievement. The ice cream that is produced there is all that ice cream could, is and should ever be: smooth, delicious and full of decadent milk fat. There is something about the ice cream there that transfixes me.

The basics of making ice cream must be mastered before venturing off into new territory, and The Creamery has the basics down. If you can't make a decent chocolate ice cream then there's no point in adding fudge, nuts or other goodies to make up for a lack of understanding the fundamentals. The Creamery makes the best chocolate ice cream that I have ever tasted, and this institution continues to be a mandatory stop for me each time I visit State College, PA.

With that background in mind, you can understand my excitement when I had to visit State College on a work trip a couple of weeks ago. I did a little research and found that since my last visit three years ago, The Creamery store had moved to a much larger facility on campus. That knowledge did little to prepare me for what an amazing space The Creamery store now occupied.

Along with one of the people with whom I was working (let's call him Justin), I visited The Creamery for an afternoon snack. I was very impressed with the new space which has a nice, open layout with ample seating for those wishing to eat at a leisurely pace. There are two wall-sized cold cases: one containing ice cream and another with cheeses, milk and other products that you usually wouldn't want to freeze. I could say quite a bit about the non-frozen items, but I'd be getting away from the focus of this article. Let's just say that I was impressed.

Justin and I each decided to get a cone of Death by Chocolate ice cream (chocolate ice cream with chocolate flakes, fudge pieces and chocolate swirl). Of course, "Two Death by Chocolate Cones" is a little much for the cashier to call out to the person who prepares the cones, so it was shortened to "Two Death Cones!" We both found this very amusing, and we were quite pleased with our choice.
The cones at The Creamery are always very generous, and I've always been quite pleased with them. At this point I have to point out the one shortcoming that The Creamery has (aside from it being about 2,874 miles from my home): they don't have sugar cones, only cake cones. For any other vendor of frozen confections I would count this as unforgivable, but since The Creamery makes such excellent products, I'll let it slide. Their cake cones are much higher in quality than I generally see so that helps quite a bit. I didn't even ask if sugar cones were available on my last visit as I have come to terms with this one shortcoming.

While we finished our Death Cones we soaked up the wonder of The Creamery during our much needed break in the day. Once more we smiled as the cashier called out "Death Shake!" Had we not recently become familiar with the "Death by Chocolate" shorthand we might have thought that something sinister was afoot, but instead we smiled and continued to enjoy our "Death Cones".

So far, The Creamery makes the best ice cream that I've had so far, but I'll continue my quest for the best ice cream out there, one cone at a time, wherever my travels may take me.

Have you been lucky enough to find an excellent ice cream shop while traveling? If so, please let me know about it.

I'd like to thank Chris from PSU Food Science for helping me with some of the details for this article.

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  1. I likes JP Licks in Boston and Richardson's outside of Boston. Have yet to find a good one here in DC area, most would add maggie moo's but I don't think those places are authentic. So I still search.

  2. Robin Sue: I'll keep those places in mind when I visit Boston next time. In DC I did see more frozen yogurt places than ice cream, a shame.

    Globetrottingbride: It was.

  3. We have a great one in Lake Ariel, PA (near Scranton)- Keating's Ice Cream. Took the course at PSU & has their own dairy.

  4. @Robin Sue: check out the ice cream at The Dairy at the University of Maryland in College Park (made from their own cows) with flavors like Final Exam Cram and Spring Break:

    Another university dairy with outstanding ice cream is Cornell's Dairy Bar in Ithaca:

  5. Try Mariposa on Adams Avenue if you're ever in San Diego. Mexican chocolate ice cream....mmmmmmm