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Tour de Soft Serve

April 6, 2011

The FUSSYlittleBALLOT 2.0 declares that Crisan has the best ice cream in the Capital Region. But gelato and soft serve are about as far apart as a Cuban sandwich is to a PB&J.

At first I thought that soft serve was like a religion in the region, but now I’m starting to feel that it’s more like a cult. I’m very excited that so many people have expressed interest in joining me on this tour, and it was great to have my eyes opened to people’s passionate backing of their favorite seasonal soft serve stands that weren’t even on my radar.

Actually that last part made my job a good bit harder.

The list of potential stops on the tour went from five to twelve. And even five I think is pushing the reasonable capacity of adults to critically consume ice cream over the course of a single afternoon. Despite being tempted to include a sixth stop, I capped the tour at five. Not everyone is going to be happy about which places made the tour and which ones got left off. But let’s try to take the long view. We can revisit some of the other places next year in the Tour de Soft Serve Extended Remix.

Here’s the plan for the first Tour de Soft Serve on Saturday, April 9.

Do you remember the bad experience I had at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que? Well, the upper management at Dinosaur heard about it too, and they want to sit down and talk it out. So that morning I’m going to have a face-to-face meeting with their Director of Operations, and he’s going to give me an up close look at what they do. I imagine when he’s in town, everything is done right. But I hope to really get some answers about maintaining quality control and standards at their Troy restaurant.

He may also make me eat one of his sausages.

I’ll keep you posted to how it goes. But I’m mentioning this for three reasons:
1) I am actually looking forward to seeing how their operation runs
2) I may be in the dangerous position of starting the tour with a full belly
3) Given the timing of the meeting, the start of the tour will need to be near Troy

The obvious answer would be to start at The Snowman. But this venerable institution is getting totally shafted. Actually, I went there recently, and it seems that the major draw of this place is their house-made hard ice-cream and yogurt. Their soft serve may be good, but it isn’t what makes the Snowman special.

Troy isn’t the only city getting the shaft. Because the weather forecast for the day looks dicey, enjoying a nice evening by the river at Jumpin’ Jack’s didn’t sound so appealing. Plus one criticism of former tours has been the actual amount of time riding in a car, so I was looking for a tighter footprint in which we could conduct the tour.

Finally, by my own admission, I know precious little about soft serve ice cream. So I took people’s nominations very seriously. One day very soon I will make it to Curry Freeze. But it will not be this upcoming Saturday.

Instead, we will start in Latham at On the Farm. I’ll meet you there at high noon. From there it is up to Guptil’s. Our first crossing of the Mohawk will bring us to the Country Drive In. After three rounds of delicious ice cream, we will cross the river for a second time to descend upon Kurver Kreme. I do not have high hopes for this one, yet it must be included, if only to be dismissed. But what I am most excited about is a big finish at Jim’s Tastee Freez in Delmar.

Here is the map of the day.

If you tilt your head just right, you may be able to see the shape of a soft-serve handle. I think that’s a good sign. On the off chance that it turns out to be a beautiful evening, and should anyone be able to even contemplate such a notion, I might be open for a Jumpin’ Jack’s after-party.

Here’s some mumbo jumbo that should be obvious, but I’m just going to say. Please let me know if you are coming, and if you plan to bring people with you. I’d just like to make sure I have enough score sheets to go around. If you want your score sheet to be counted, you must complete the tour, in its entirety. Attendees will be among bloggers. You should expect your picture to be taken and for it to appear on the internet. Please bring a pen. Please be on time. You may want to wear loose pants. The only things I will be providing are scoresheets, the map above, color commentary along the way, and a wrap up post of the event.

To be able to fill out the score sheets, you will need to order the following at each of the five stops:
– A chocolate/vanilla soft serve swirl
– Size is up to your discretion
– Choice of cone or cup is up to the reviewer, but once chosen must be held constant
– Choice of one topping is up to the reviewer, and can be ordered on the side, but again once chosen must be held constant

It is perfectly fine, and even encouraged to share your ice cream with the close friends you bring with you. I will not be sharing with anyone. Touch my ice cream at your peril. Also if you want to just tag along and try some of the ice creams, but aren’t so into the judging thing, the score sheets, and the restrictive ordering that’s fine too.

Just know that we’ll have to discount your opinion accordingly.

I think that about covers it. I’m looking forward to eating a lot of ice cream with you all on Saturday. In the meantime, please take a few minutes to review the FUSSYlittleBALLOT 2.0 and vote in the Times Union poll. If you’ve already voted, maybe you can take a few minutes and send the FUSSYlittleBALLOT 2.0 to your friends. Getting a critical mass of people is entirely possible, but I need your help to make it happen. Thank you.

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Update 4/14/2011 – For the results of the Tour de Soft Serve click here

21 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2011 10:22 am

    I hope your face-to-face with the management goes well. In response to my experience, I was in communication with management who was eager to do the same for me, but scheduling it has been difficult. I’m attending a fundraiser there next week; I’m toying around with the idea of eating there.

    Anyway, more on topic. You’re hitting a lot of good stops; I think it’s a decent sampling of what the area has to offer.

    I wish I could make it, but, as you know, I will be tackling The Graveyard Challenge at Wagon Train BBQ.

    (If the tour had been flipped, I could have probably made it to On The Farm, since I live not even 2 minutes away. Are they even open yet? I thought they don’t start until the end of April…)

  2. April 6, 2011 10:52 am

    My husband and I are coming! Count us in :) see you Saturday!

  3. April 6, 2011 11:07 am

    I’d give anything to join this tour. I’m all for eating ice cream in the name of higher journalism and research. :)

    Sadly, I’ll be out of town – and will probably eat my own chocolate thick shake float, something I’ve only found around here up in Lake George.

    Capital Region lifers tend to like whatever they grew up on – so, whatever ice cream place is closest. Also, whatever was around then. Which is why so many people like Kurver – you’ll find out when you taste the ice cream. :(

  4. April 6, 2011 11:27 am

    Family Bridal Shower in Cobleskill, so I will be missing. Will cone vs. cup change the ice cream experience?

    Think of Kurver as a control without which results for a regional survey would be regarded with suspicion. While standing in their line and eating their twist, brace yourself and think of Queen and Country.

  5. April 6, 2011 1:25 pm

    I’ll be moving that day, so I’m out. Plus, I must confess, I don’t really have a limit when it comes to eating ice cream, which means I’d end up eating far too much and regretting it.

    However, through my own informal survey of the area’s soft serve stands over my past ten years in the area, Guptill’s has the best. My husband agrees. Neither of us grew up here, so we don’t have the cloud of childhood memories to alter our judgment.

    Anyway, have fun! I’m interested to see how the ones I haven’t been to fare.

  6. April 6, 2011 1:40 pm

    I’m in, and so’s my boyfriend. I just hope it doesn’t take all day, ’cause I’ll have to waddle to work afterward. :)

    Anyone know if On the Farm has good food? Wondering if breakfast there would be worth the calories…

  7. Phairhead permalink
    April 6, 2011 2:06 pm

    Poor Bumpy’s :-(

  8. April 6, 2011 2:14 pm

    R and I will be there! This is right up our alley!

  9. Jon Nedel permalink
    April 6, 2011 2:49 pm

    You know an area is beyond boring when “soft-serve” and “mini hot dogs” are what people are going to be rating, lol. Good luck.

  10. ajw93 permalink
    April 6, 2011 3:18 pm

    “Lifers tend to like whatever they grew up on.” Truer words were never spoken! Thus, I am confident in my assertion that Holy Cow is best — however, it’s too far away to be really considered Capital Region (Mid-Hudson, more like).

    BUT! I just moved here! I need a (more) local fix! This sounds like a fantastic opportunity to compare and contrast (since I plan a Holy Cow pilgrimage for Friday anyhow).

  11. April 6, 2011 3:34 pm

    This is going to destroy my entire week of Not Eating Things from Work In Order To Be Ready For Spring Outfits, but I hardly care.

    I might end up at Jumpin’ Jacks anyway, since I’ll be heading out to Scotia area that afternoon, but we’ll see. I’m definitely in for the rest (and pleased as punch to be heading to Tastee Freeze, although I haven’t tried most of the others and excited to try them!).

  12. April 6, 2011 5:06 pm

    I’m going to tentatively say yes, plus perhaps two. I’m really due for some ice cream.

  13. April 6, 2011 10:44 pm

    “He may also make me eat one of his sausages.”

    I didn’t think this was that kind of blog.

  14. April 7, 2011 11:46 am

    I left the Albany area in 1994 and headed west. Finding soft serve in Colorado is about as easy as finding an oceanfront beach. Boo! There’s nothing I miss more than a twist in the heat of a summer day. I would skip On The Farm and head straight to Guptill’s, it’s certainly my favorite and only a few minutes from my childhood home. Then I’d give Country Drive In a go…

    Wish I could be there on the soft serve tour!

  15. April 7, 2011 3:43 pm

    Oh my gosh, I’m so glad I just found this mentioned by one of my friends over Twitter. Not only am I in love with ALL of those ice cream stands, but I’m even more excited to find another capital region blogger. :)
    Looking forward to reading more!

  16. April 7, 2011 9:22 pm

    I’ll be there. My +1 may join for the last two stops, but he doesn’t get a scoresheet because he won’t be there the whole time. Won’t stop him from buying a cone at each though.

  17. Patty permalink
    April 15, 2011 4:42 pm

    If your going to Jim’s Tastee Freeze in Delmar you might as well zip over to the Jercho drive-in for their soft-serve. Its good and a better price then Jim’s.


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