by Andrew Coppolino | July 2023
When it comes to the summer heat and the outdoor life, we all scream for ice cream at some point. In fact, at many points. However, ice cream isn’t just a chilled, frosty treat when the mercury rises: it’s about nostalgia, childhood and enjoying family and friends with a classic sweet. And in this case, it’s also about the local producers and crafted experiences of Waterloo Region.
Here are a few ice cream shops to visit this summer.
Inspired by the playful goats on their 185-acre farm, Greg and Cheryl Haskett opened Udderly Ridiculous Goat Milk Ice Cream in 2019. A third-generation family farm, Udderly Ridiculous whips up ice cream in six unique and tantalizing flavours: Wine and Dark Chocolate, Vanilla Bean Lavender, Coffee and Craft Brew, Lemon Cream and Peachy Mango Tango. That’s five for summer, but Cheryl Haskett says always be prepared for fall and their popular Spiced Pumpkin: “It’s like real pumpkin pie but without the crust,” Haskett adds.
Goat ice cream has fewer sugars, is low in casein and lactose friendly and rich in vitamins and nutrients. The ice cream is available at a number of retailers, but visit the farm and on-farm store for a host of local products – and to get close to the goats and the ice cream action, says Cheryl Haskett. “It’s an authentic home-farm experience rather than a petting zoo,” she says. That means education about our food supply – but with a healthy dose of fun and deliciousness.
Bestseller: The race for the “G.O.A.T” ice cream bestseller is close, but it’s Vanilla Bean Lavender by a nose, followed by Wine and Dark Chocolate, according to Haskett.
AURA-LA Pastries + Provisions
First appearing on the local food scene years ago with their renowned bean-to-bar chocolate, Aura Hertzog and AURA-LA’s Pastries and Provisions are specialists is unique high-quality local products. Like a host of their baking and other treats, AURA-LA ice cream is made from scratch in house. There’s a wide variety of packed ice creams and six for scooping: imagine flavours using rhubarb from a local grower (Barrie’s Asparagus Farm & Country Market) and local strawberries for strawberry-peach, or blueberry lemon? There’s also sorbet and crafted vegan ices too.
Local is key: high-quality Eby Manor Golden Guernsey “A2” milk is from this special herd in Waterloo – the lower casein can be helpful for those with lactose intolerance; the cream is from Hewitt’s and is only one ingredient. The cones are by local maker Donsig. AURA-LA also make affogatos, floats using local soda and ice cream sandwiches with their own cookies.
Environment is key, too: AURA-LA ice cream is air-chilled during churning, rather than water-chilled so no waste water goes into the municipal water processing system.
Shop online or visit the quaint food-community hub that AURA-LA has become in the Central Fred residential neighbourhood of downtown Kitchener.
Bestseller: “That’s our chocolate, followed by ‘Spurline,’ a sort of vanilla-based Heavenly Hash inspired by our original Spurline Trail location,” says Hertzog.
Chris Parent, owner of Christopher’s Gelato is very, very busy: it is a wonderful example of how a small business in Waterloo Region has grown into a bigger player with a reach into the GTA. With up to about 200 standard flavours, Christopher’s can make as many as 75 others when they get special requests.
As to where you can get Christopher’s gelato (there’s no retail outlet), gelatiero Chris Parent says just about everywhere in the region.
“If it’s gelato in this region, it’s probably Christopher’s,” he says.
A few suggestions are to head to La Fromagerie, Wildcraft, Vincenzo’s, Matter of Taste, Café Pyrus – and many, many other venues – to enjoy this special summer treat. Then find a piazza for an evening stroll.
Bestseller: Christopher’s says not sellers right now are a couple of swirls: vanilla butter-orange and raspberry swirl and white chocolate-pistachio swirl. “For some reason, those two have really taken off,” he says.
Crumby Cookie Dough Co.
As much as ice cream is nostalgia-driven, so too is cookie dough. “Cookie dough! – Can you eat that?” You bet you can when it’s from Crumby. An Uptown Waterloo specialist in small-batch cookie dough that is made from scratch, Crumby Cookie Dough Co. stress that their formulation of cookie dough is safe to eat – despite what grandma told you – because it is pasteurized. And the sweet is a split personality of goodness: you can eat it as is from the refrigerated container for immediate satisfaction; or, you can take an extra step and delay that gratification by baking scrumptious cookies with it. As for grandma, Crumby is just like her: their cookie dough has no additives, no preservatives and no artificial colours or flavours.
There are usually 12-16 in-store flavours like Material Squirrel natural peanut butter, chocolate and homemade butter toffee and One Tart to Rule Them All with maple-butter tart filling, Just Love Pie pastry pieces and pecans. There are also seasonal specialties like S’mores-inspired Backyard Campfire with handmade mallow. There’s even a “doggie dough” for your pooch!
Bestseller: Obligatory Chocolate Chip by far!
Indulge Ice Cream
The Indulge ice cream caboose is a landmark on Highway 24 in Cambridge. If you think of iconic ice cream stands, the old train car must certainly jump to mind. The Indulge experience starts with a homemade waffle cone – there’s nothing like the aroma of waffle cones being made fresh – chock-full of delicious ice cream. Featuring ice cream from Shaw’s Dairy in Tillsonburg, there are about two dozen flavours – and roughly 30 at the caboose – as well as thick shakes and add-ons like hot fudge, peanuts and gummy bears. Other locations include their downtown Hespeler store, and their Hawaiian Shave Ice Truck that comes to you.
Bestseller: Freshly-made waffle cones are what Indulge is famous for. As for ice cream, there’s a top ten rotation of best sellers that includes delicacies like Chocolate Peanut Butter and Cotton Candy.
Scoop du Jour
Sharing space with the lovely Bodega Rose, SDJ says check their Insta for the ice cream menu. There is usually 11 Kawartha Dairy ice cream selections every day along with a scoop of the day – hence, “scoop du jour.” Open daily 12 p.m. – 10 p.m., weather permitting.
Bestseller: Moose Tracks
Sweet Caroline’s Ice Cream and Treats
With over 50 ice cream flavours, it’s likely among the largest selections you’ll find anywhere – plus there are many “specialty” treats that include gluten-free, lactose-free and sherbet. Ice cream cakes too. Their ice cream is from Kawartha Dairy and Central Smith Creamery; the cones are from local Donsig Cones. Check out the “Sweet Caroline Samplers” and affogatos too,
Bestseller: Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough
Open since 2020, Sweet Scoops is 800 square feet packed with flavourful ice cream take-away. There are 100 flavours in their repertoire, with 32 flavours usually on display and always two choices made with coconut milk for vegans and gluten-free too. The waffle cones are hand-made in house.
Bestseller: “Grammy’s Cupboard: a vanilla base with a caramel ribbon, brownie chunks, cookie dough chunks and peanut butter ripple.
Andrew Coppolino is food columnist with CBC-KW and Metroland newspapers. The author of Farm to Table (Swan Parade Press) and co-author of Cooking with Shakespeare (Greenwood Press), he is the 2022 “Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer-in-Residence” at the Stratford Chefs School. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @andrewcoppolino.