Depending on how you look at it, you may be elated or miserable to hear that tomorrow is the last day of summer. On one hand, foliage and fluffy scarves can officially come out in full force. On the other hand, it means that the opportunities for trips to the beach, and other summery past times, are dwindling. But, because I’m not quite ready to move on just yet, I recently went in search of the ultimate summer dessert: ice cream.
Now, if you drive up and down the any of the main roads in my town, you could probably stop at 12 different shops that serve a variety of frozen treats. Let’s face it, it’s not difficult to find any old, mass produced, ice cream. What does take more effort however, is finding high-quality, naturally flavored ice cream. Luckily, I had been hearing about a place all summer, which makes just that: Grass Roots Creamery, in Granby, Connecticut.
At the head of it all is, owner, Eliza. Even before finding her passion in ice cream crafting, Eliza had always worked to make sure that fresh and ethnic flavors were featured on her dinner table, nightly. After setting her sights on Grass Root’s current location, and finally getting the chance to swoop in after another not-so-successful ice cream shop had their turn, she left her career as a social worker and opened the store that ice cream lovers, near and far, know so well today. Now, with it’s own small creamery downstairs, Grass Roots is well on it’s way to being one of, if not the most, diversified ice shop within hundreds of miles.
What do I mean by diversified, you ask? Well, let’s talk flavors. When it comes to variety, there is certainly no shortage of it at this shop. With a menu of over 200 flavors, Eliza is always keeping everyone on their toes. The creamery is constantly making their ice cream in small batches. This means that the 36 flavors you may see in the morning on one day, may be completely different than what you see that very same night. And, while that might be difficult for us planners to swallow, it allows for adventurous foodies to try something new every time they come in.
As for the inspiration behind those 200 flavors? All one needs to do is look at a few maps…of Connecticut, America…the world. Looking at the tags attached to each bucket in the case, one can see that not only does Grass Roots use local ingredients in their products, but they also take inspiration from the favorite flavors of many cultures around the world. An example of this can be found in one of tonight’s varieties: Lime Chocolate Chip, a popular flavor in Ghana, Africa. And, because of how many places her menu represents, Eliza says that any member of her clientele can walk into her store, and find something they recognize. In a quaint and quiet town like Granby, that’s saying something.
After chatting with Eliza, it was go-time. Now, you all know how difficult it is for me to make a decision, so you won’t be surprised to know that I had to try an embarrassing amount of flavors to even narrow down my list to a handful. Between options like Cannoli (made with a mascarpone base, of course), Pumpkin Oreo, and Biscoff, the decision was near impossible. Finally, I decided on two: Banana Graham and Maple Bacon, served in a waffle cone. (Really, is there any other way to eat ice cream?)
Oh, dear Lord. First, that Banana Graham. Made with real bananas, just like banana bread is, there is nothing artificial tasting about this frosty goodness, at all. With the natural sweetness of the fruit being complimented by the chunks of cracker and caramel swirls throughout, this was a home run. After I inhaled my way through that scoop, Maple Bacon was up next. Having had learned what I had about Eliza’s philosophy, even in that short amount of time, it came as no surprise to me that she had hand-candied that bacon herself. It was the perfect balance of salty and sweet. As if it wasn’t already clear enough, these two scoops made it quite obvious that trying all 200 flavors was going to have to make it’s way on to my bucket list.
So, in the end, I could tell you how wonderful Grass Roots Creamery is. I could tell you that they have an amazing list of unique flavors, inspired by both local and ethnic ingredients. I could tell you that their product is fresh, and made genuinely with real food. But, I don’t need to. Because, as I discovered while walking out, cone in hand…the locals will do that for you. Take it from the ladies who walked in asking for warning when the store was closing for the season so that they could stock up their freezers, this is a place you’ll have to check out for yourself.
Stay tuned and stay hungry,