Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Ice Cream Stands of Summer

Is there a summer pleasure more sublime than eating ice cream outside on a warm evening? Of standing in line in shorts and sandals, pondering the plethora of flavors listed while you wait your turn at the counter?

Framingham is lucky to have several seasonal ice cream stands where you can indulge and sit outside in the warm months.

Mad Willie's on Route 9 in Framingham Centre is a favorite during the school year for students from Framingham State, right across the street, and attendees at the popular Friday night summer concerts on the town green, just a short stroll away.

Mad Willie's has 20+ flavors, plus other food, including a raved-about lobster roll. There are tables and chairs out front for al fresco enjoyment, although the parking lot and Route 9 beyond are not exactly a quiet and picturesque setting.

Sunshine Farm is technically just across the border from the Ham by a couple of hundred feet, in Sherborn at 41 Kendall Street, but is frequented by many Hamsters, since it's located near the Beaver Street area of the South Side, a short walk from this beautifully located vegetable/fruit/ice cream stand and its adjoining farm.

A third generation family business set on 100 acres, this is by far the most rural setting you'll find to lick a cone around Framingham. Sunshine Farm offers about 30 flavors, including some exotic fruity ones like Pomegranate Chip and Orange Pineapple. Sunshine Farm has picnic tables for outside seating, and offers peach, strawberry, and raspberry toppings made from fruit grown on the farm, which also can be obtained at the farm stand or by picking your own in season.

Gerard Farm on Water Street, midway between North Framingham's villages of Saxonville and Nobscot, has a charmingly rustic ice cream stand that adjoins the take-out food store of this former turkey farm. With more than 30 flavors you're sure to find a favorite. Chocolate Raspberry Truffle was a hit on a recent Hamster research mission.

While turkeys are no longer raised here, you can get roasted-daily turkeys and ducks and other hearty fare to enjoy at home. With ample outdoor seating and a pavilion where you can wait out any passing rain showers, Gerard's also offers a Thursday evening outdoor chicken and ribs barbecue special that attracts plenty of locals.