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Tour de Soft Serve 4.0

August 21, 2018

The first Tour de Soft Serve centered around Albany. The second outing brought us up to Saratoga. The third we looked east. Finally, after years of waiting, it’s Schenectady’s turn.

At one point it was a struggle to come up with five soft serve places in and around The Electric City. But now the struggle is which places to keep on, and which ones to leave off the itinerary. Because all of these tours have one thing in common. We visit five different places in one day. Five.

So sometimes hard choices need to be made.

First thing is first. Mark your calendars. This Saturday, August 25 at high noon the Tour de Soft Serve 2.0 will commence rain or shine. Where will we start? Great question.

Dairy Circus in Scotia.

It was the fire at Dairy Circus that delayed this tour, and now that they have reopened, we should start there. Not only was it made famous in The Place Beyond The Pines, but it also features a creepy clown painting. If we did not include this regional staple, we might anger the clown. No good would come of that.

Speaking of evil clowns, our next stop is Jumpin’ Jacks Drive In. It was asked if this place has anything else besides Dole Whips. Of course it does. There’s an entire building dedicated to frozen treats. Vanilla and chocolate soft serve are always on tap. Summer isn’t summer without a visit to Jumpin’ Jacks, so this was another must.

Stop number three is a surprise. I had written off Poppy’s prematurely based on a few bad Yelp reviews. However, we heard some positive noises in the nominations, and after doing a little research online, this place looks like exactly the kind of local institution these tours are all about. Sure, it’s off the beaten path. But maybe after the tour, more people will be beating down the path to its door.

Curry Freeze was another must. Not just for the unsettling ice cream cone man that lords over the place, but because its name makes me chuckle. I always imagine some masala spiced soft serve. However, the place is just on Curry Road. There is no curry in these machines. What there is, is local history. And a lot of love. So we’re going.

The final stop may be a bit contentious, because it’s The Grandstand. And it’s a new arrival. Certainly newer than Bumpy’s Polar Freeze which unfortunately got left out in the cold. However, newer upstarts can sometimes do it better. And after my visit to Bumpy’s last season, I’m not eager to return. Sure, they have boats. But The Grandstand has batting cages. To me, it’s a wash. And the hope for better soft serve is really the thing driving the decision.

That’s five.

Now, the hardest of the hard core may want to hit Bumpy’s and CocoBar before heading back home. But that’s between them and their God. All joking aside, should there be any unexpected closures on Saturday, these will be the backup options.

Here’s the map for those who are considering the drive. It’s a pretty tight footprint.

If you’ve been on one of these tours before, you know they are a lot of fun, and you probably have a pretty good sense about how they unfold. But for the rest of you, here are some of the basic to keep in mind:

  • Please let me know if you are coming, and if you plan to bring people with you. All are welcome, but I just want 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.
  • Bloggers and social media types may be among the attendees. 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. You are responsible for your food costs, transportation, safety, and fun.

Fair warning. Official tasters, will be asked to obey the following guidelines:

  • A consistent flavor across all five stops (chocolate/vanilla soft serve swirl preferred)
  • A consistent size across all five stops (I recommend kiddie)
  • A consistent form across all five stops (I go cup, but cone is totally understandable)
  • A consistent topping across all five stops (last time I went with nuts, but hot fudge can be very interesting too)

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

Just know that we’ll 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 starting at noon.

So, who’s in?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. August 21, 2018 10:15 am

    Should I skip Travers and gorge on soft ice cream? Probably. Love any excuse to visit the electric city and will be there if the creek don’t rise.

    By the way, I read your Yelp review of Bumpy’s and felt you are being too harsh. In fact, it’s an example of the kind of review that turns chefs against Yelp. You ordered a specialty combination and then weren’t happy when it didn’t match your preconception. The rest of the experience was quite positive, it appears.

    • August 21, 2018 11:25 am

      Yes, you should skip Travers.

      No, the problem with Bumpy’s wasn’t the specialty combination. The ice cream with cereal in it was delightful. The main problem came from the chopped malt balls that were left open the fridge, which turned into chewy nuggets of awfulness from the humidity. That, and the customer service response when confronted with the state of said malt balls.

      From both of these data points, I came to the conclusion that there is a lack of caring behind the counter. And when frozen dairy is being prepared, a lack of caring is deal breaker for me.

  2. Eric Taub permalink
    August 23, 2018 7:44 pm

    I’ll be there. This looks like great fun!

  3. August 24, 2018 12:13 pm

    Can’t say no to ice cream

  4. omaxwell permalink
    August 25, 2018 10:46 am

    I will be there, solo this time. See you at noon in Scotia.


  1. Guess what: soft serve ice cream is not all the same! - Burnt My Fingers

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