By Jelane A. Kennedy
Spring is here! How do I know? Because Martha’s Dandee Crème, my favorite ice cream stand in the Lake George region has finally opened for the season. Martha’s on Route 9 in Queensbury, New York has been an area institution for going on 50 years. The stand has been a family owned business for most of the time except for a short stint in which Six Flags owned the stand and the family then bought it back.
In my mind Martha’s has some of the best soft serve ice cream in the area. What makes it so good comes down to three factors. First it is the texture, creamy and firm so that it doesn’t melt away into a slimy mess. I’m not a big melted ice cream fan, Eileen will attest to the fact that even at home I finish my ice cream before it has a chance to be all melted in the bottom of the bowl. Second is flavor, when I start an ice cream cone I find it has a burst of flavor that needs to stay through the whole ice cream cone experience, which is what I love about Martha’s, unlike many soft serve ice creams where after a couple of licks it’s just a cold sweet with no distinct flavor. Each lick of Martha’s has the same flavor solid flavor.
Finally it is value, the size of their cones is just amazing: a kiddy cone and small cone start with the same base cake cup the kiddy has about 2 ½ inches of ice cream above the top of the cup, the small has about 5 inches, when you move to a medium cone the cake cup becomes larger to accommodate the 7 to 8 inch high twist, and finally the large in yet another larger cake cup size which needs to handle what can be about 12 inches of ice cream stacked on the cone. Of course these are rough estimates as the servers eye the size. Another feature is that the servers make sure the cake cup itself has ice cream inside the handle area so it is not just stacked up on the top of the cake cone. I personally stick with a kiddy!
For those that can’t have a dairy treat they also serve Dole Soft Serve, which is fat free, cholesterol free and lactose free option, they have four alternating flavors. Which brings the total flavor count to 36. This includes that two to three twists are offered each day and the sherbet options. It takes 8 machines to make all this wonderful frozen delight. What’s not to love!
As a kid ice cream was a favorite treat and our most common form of dessert in our house. My Mom always had a half-gallon of vanilla ice cream in the freezer. (Back when all ice cream came in the half-gallon size unlike today when many ice cream containers are the a sort of half-gallon!) We also always had a can of Hersey’s chocolate syrup to add to our vanilla ice cream. Many nights as a kid I remember later after dinner and before bed having a couple of scoops. It wasn’t until I went to college that I realized a bowl of ice cream was typically just one little scoop. The first time while in the Cafeteria line, I picked up some ice cream after dinner, and I remember thinking “Wow, that is not a bowl of ice cream!”
Ice cream is a way to gauge the seasons for me. The opening of the ice cream stand tells me that spring is really here even on a cold snowy day as I eat my cone in the warm cocoon of my car. Spring ice cream means that winters icy hold will soon melt into summer.
Summer ice cream cones are about kicking back and having a break in the action, to do a little people watching. Eileen and I discovered early on that since we both love ice cream that it was the perfect treat when we needed a break from some chore we were doing. The summer Eileen moved from New Hampshire to New York we had a cone everyday as a break from packing! Any chore goes down better with an ice cream cone!
In the fall, having a cone during the last few days before Martha’s closes for the season always feels like a guilty pleasure, as though we are sneaking a last hurrah before the snow flies. The experience stamps the hope of a new year into my mind.
So now that Martha’s is open, we will begin again to plan our trips around making a stop. They are open 7 days a week, starting at 11 am, Sunday through Thursday until 9 pm and Friday through Saturday until 10 pm. Whether it is a mid-afternoon quickie or a late day chill stop, we will make are rounds through Lake George to include this ritual, when time stops for a moment and life slows down for simple pleasures.
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
(c) 2015 Jelane A. Kennedy