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A Scoop of Happiness: Where to find this summer’s trending treat

Nicole Laidler
Written by Nicole Laidler

Steve Jobs once said “If you want to make everyone happy, don’t be a leader — sell ice cream.” Local entrepreneurs are taking that advice to heart. Just in time for summer, ice cream is having a moment.

Whether you’re a minimalist, or bury your scoop under a mountain of toppings, or are looking for an organic, non-dairy, gluten-free frozen treat, the independent ice cream market is heating up.

Eatdrink took on the task of revisiting some old favourites and sampling from the new kids on the block. It was a tough assignment, but here’s the scoop:

London

Nanaimo Bar is one of London Ice Cream Company’s flavours that celebrates Canada 150.

London Ice Cream Company has been making ice cream “the way it used to be” since 1995. That means you won’t find ice milk or frozen desserts on the menu. London Ice Cream Company makes ice cream — right on the premises — using a process called batch pasteurization. There are over 120 unique flavours in rotation, with top sellers including Moosetracks, Happy Birthday, Peanut Butter Mudpuddle, and Acadian Vanilla.

This summer London Ice Cream Company will be scooping up a selection of patriotic flavours to celebrate Canada 150, including Oh Canada, Bruce Trail Mix, Canadian Rockies, Nanaimo Bar, and Double Double.

London Ice Cream is available by the scoop at its location at the corner of Baseline and Wharncliffe, or you can pick up a 2L bucket at select food retailers in London, Ingersoll, and Mt. Brydges.  www.londonicecream.ca

At Chil you can dress up your (cetified organic) frozen yogurt just the way you want it.

With its funky black and pink interior, and large patio on the corner of Richmond and Hyman, Chil Frozen Yogurt Bar is a year-round destination for those in search of some healthy frozen indulgence.

Opened by husband and wife team Julia Hatter and Kevin Wu in 2012, Chil was the first in Canada to offer Certified Organic Greek Frozen Yogurt. Available in more than 60 flavours, it’s all made on site from milk produced locally at Mapleton’s Organic Dairy Farm.

Chil also offers a wide selection of non-dairy and vegan friendly frozen desserts, including a variety of tasty quinoa, almond milk, and ‘superfood’ frozen treats.

With a topping bar overflowing with more than 150 different items, you can enjoy your self-serve froyo just the way you like it. (Just be warned — it’s sold by weight!)

Slices of New York Cheesecake and a selection of liqueurs, coolers and craft beers are also on the menu. www.chilfroyo.com

At Haven’s Creamery, local cream and simple ingredients are blended in small batches.

Located off Richmond Row at Piccadilly, Haven’s Creamery opened this April and is already a hot spot for ice cream lovers in search of a more simple approach.

Haven’s makes ice cream your grandmother would recognize, beginning with fresh real cream from Hewitt’s Dairy. Hand-crafted on site using a batch-by-batch approach, the result is a smooth, melt-in-your-mouth experience.

Haven’s takes a traditional approach to flavours, with only 11 on offer — including two monthly feature flavours and one dairy-free sorbet. Scoops come in three sizes, and are served in cups or house-made waffle cones. (The owner is working on a recipe for gluten-free cones.) There are no additional mix-ins or toppings, but with this much pure goodness, there’s no need. www.havensicecream.com

Roli Poli makes Thai-style hand-rolled ice cream, served in cups, cones, waffles and more.

Chances are, you’ve never seen or tasted ice cream quite like this. Open since the Victoria Day weekend and located on Richmond just across from the Grand Theatre, Roli Poli Ice Cream is London’s first hand-rolled ice cream shop.

What does that mean, you ask? At Roli Poli, your ice cream is made while you wait — hand-rolled on a frozen metal pan for each individual customer. It’s a technique owner Karri Egan discovered in Thailand and decided to bring to Canada.

Beginning with a plain ice cream, non-fat yogurt, or coconut milk base, Roli Poli offers 12 different flavour combinations created by adding fresh and intriguing mix-ins. (Think Key Lime Pie made with fresh limes, or Mini-Donut made with real donuts.)

Available in a cup, cone, waffle cone, waffle taco, or on a waffle plate, with free, unlimited toppings, Roli Poli will have you rolling downtown for more. www.rolipoliicecream.com

Fresh fruits like these canteloupes are used in making gelato and ice cream at The Ice Creamery.

The Ice Creamery began with a small booth at a Sarnia’s Lambton Mall farmer’s market more than 22 years ago. Today this family-run business scoops up happiness at two locations, in Sarnia and in London’s Covent Garden Market.

Specializing in ice cream, gelato, and chocolate creations, everything at the Ice Creamery is created fresh, from scratch. The high-quality ice cream begins with a steady supply of fresh cream and GMO-free ingredients.

The menu has expanded to include ice cream cakes, to-die-for mini-doughnuts, and decadent truffles —hand-crafted from fair trade, organic chocolate.  www.icecreamery.ca

St. Thomas

Shaw’s features an iconic dairy bar in St. Thomas, on the road to Port Stanley.

A trip to Port Stanley just wouldn’t be the same without a stop at Shaw’s Ice Cream. It’s been serving up “delicious old fashioned ice cream made the way it should be” since 1933.

Although the business has passed though the hands of several owners, the commitment to using only the finest natural ingredients and 100% Canadian cream remains. Today Shaw’s is owned and operated by sisters Kristine, Kelly and Kim, who have expanded the business through the introduction of private labelling, growing the wholesale distribution area, and renovating the historic roadside Dairy Bar.

Shaw’s offers a wide selection of hard ice cream, fruit sorbets, frozen yogurt, thick milkshakes, decadent sundaes and celebratory ice cream cakes, as well as take-home tubs. With 41 flavours ranging from Butterscotch Ripple to Tiger Stripe, you’ll keep coming back year after year. www.shawsicecream.com

Woodstock

Fresh Peach Sundae is made with Bartley’s vanilla ice cream, fresh Ontario peaches, and real whipped cream.

Bartley’s Dairy Bar knows a thing or two about what summer should taste like. It’s been serving up ice cream and frozen yogurt in downtown Woodstock since 1971.

Bartley’s is the place to go if you’re feeling nostalgic for real soft ice cream, dipped cones, sundaes, milkshakes, banana splits, smoothies, flurries, or ice cream pies — all made with wholesome ingredients and topped with seasonal fresh fruit. Take-home tubs mean you can bring the fun home, if it lasts that long! www.fb.com/Bartleys-Dairy-Bar

Stratford

Most people know Chocolate Barr’s Candies for their melt-in-your-mouth chocolate truffles, minties, bars, and brittles. But for the past nine years, Derek and Jacqueline Barr have also been serving up ice cream during the dog days of summer. For the past two seasons, they’ve made their frozen treats from scratch and in-house.

Barr’s summer gelato and sorbet menu features a rotating selection of seven flavours ranging from refreshing Strawberry and Raspberry Sorbets — made from local berries — to the Embro Barn Burner, a sophisticated combination of toasted marshmallows, caramel sauce, and scotch.

Those who can’t choose between the store’s famous chocolate minties and a frozen delight can enjoy the best of both worlds with a scoop of the best-selling Mint Chocolate Chip — made with diced minties mixed in a plain ice cream base. Served in a house-made waffle cone, it could be the perfect summer treat. www.chocolatebarrs.com

The name says it all — almost — at the popular JENN & Larry’s Brittle ‘n Shakes & Ice Cream Cakes on York Street in Stratford, where you’ll also find other ice cream treats like cones and sandwiches.

Famous for his hand spun chocolate shakes, Larry operated Ontario’s first independent ice cream drive-in during the 1960s and 70s. His daughter Jenn founded Jenny’s Peanut Brittle in 1999, which quickly became known as having the best brittle in Stratford.

Together this father and daughter team opened JENN & Larry’s Brittle ‘n Shakes & Ice Cream Cakes their quaint, retro-inspired ice cream and brittle business on York Street along the Avon River in 2010. Just look for the lineup of smiling customers spilling out the door.

In addition to a mouth-watering selection of brittles, ice cream, dipped cones and shakes, JENN & Larry’s offers ice cream pies and celebration cakes as well as store-made ice cream cookie sandwiches, ice cream pops, chocolate covered chilled cookie dough on a stick, and their best-selling britzels (dipped pretzels.)

Whatever you choose, JENN & Larry’s provides the perfect sweet ending to a day — or night — in the festival city.  jenn-larrys-brittlen-shakes.myshopify.com

About the author

Nicole Laidler

Nicole Laidler

Nicole Laidler is a former classical musician who has been writing about London's cultural scene for more than a decade. To see what else she's been up to, visit www.spilledink.ca.