Feb 5, 2010

Ice Cream Photos - Dutch Sundae & Polar Bear Ice Cream

Here are 2 photos that bring back great holiday memories ...


After a warm summer's day on holiday in Zandvoort we called in to a local ice cream parlour where they served this great ice cream sundae.

It never ceases to amaze me how inventive ice cream parlors can be when it comes to concocting ice cream sundaes.

This sundae was particularly delicious as it had one of the parlour's own 'special' ice cream recipes in it called "Dolce Vita" (a superb chocolate ice cream).


This wonderful bear with the ice cream cone was standing right next to our table at the ice cream parlour as we sat and ate our ice cream sundaes.

He looked as happy as we felt!

If the photo is to be believed then at least we now know what ice cream polar bears like to eat ... chocolate and mint choc chip, not forgetting the whipped cream on top of course :)

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Nov 7, 2009

English Seaside Ice Cream, Hogwarts Castle & Craster Cornets!

Ice cream has lots of traditions - from the way it's made to the way it's served and lots more. What I find interesting is to look into what makes ice cream 'traditional' to any particular geographical area. It might be the quality of the local milk, the type of locally grown fruit that is available or, if it's an area that attracts tourists, it might even be that the ice cream is produced especially to cater for the tastes of the 'incomers'. The truth is, like with all things ice cream, there are many variations on a theme.

In England, for example, ice cream is produced by a wider variety of people than ever before. You have the traditional, small, local companies whose family have been making ice cream for generations but also there are many dairy farmers now turning to producing their own ice cream which they sell direct to retailers and sometimes even directly to the public from their own ice cream shop. One tradition, however, that is thankfully still alive and kicking is that of the ice cream parlour though it is by no means thriving. The most common and indeed most popular is the traditional 'seaside' ice cream parlour (in the States they're called ice cream parlors of course). I have many happy childhood memories of them on the Yorkshire coast (Scarborough especially) and in more recent years have found others such as when I visited Alnwick Castle - or Hogwarts Castle as many now call it (the Harry Potter movies were filmed there) in Northumberland. NOTE: There is some great Northumberland ice cream - if you ever plan a visit there, you should read more!

Alnwick Castle is not far from the beautiful Northumberland coast with its sandy beaches, great vistas and fascinating history and wildlife. So a lot of visitors to the area, especially from the USA, enjoy the best of both worlds by staying in Northumberland cottages. After visiting Alnwick we called in at Bamburgh to see the magnificent Bamburgh Castle and then at Craster where we took the wonderful walk up to the ruins of Dunstanburgh Castle, a fabulous medieval castle in a location that defies description (once up there the views take your breath away!).

After Craster it was Seahouses and there we found some great traditional English ice cream, produced locally and served from an old fashioned ice cream trailer (see photo).

We plan to go back some day, possibly staying in one of the many Northumberland cottages that are available in the area. It might be a Seahouses cottage , a Boulmer cottage, a cottage in Craster cottage or even something in Alnwick or Bamburgh.

The history and scenery is well worth going back for but the ice cream on top of that, well need I say more? :)

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Sep 30, 2009

A Happy Coincidence - Thanks To The BBC

In the same week that I published my post "Castle Ice Cream's Smiling Faces" - a feature about the popular ice cream parlour at Eastnor Castle in Herefordshire - I found myself watching a fascinating BBC TV programme entitled "Saving Britain's Past - The Country House". Focusing on how English country houses, castles and their estates have changed in the last century, the producers had selected one particular castle as the pivotal point for their programme and it just so happened to be .... Eastnor Castle! What a marvellous coincidence.

What's more, thanks to the BBC iplayer there is an online version of the programme for anyone who didn't get to see it. The opening shots of the castle are simply breathtaking and it's worth following the link for those alone. View it here: Eastnor Castle in Saving Britain's Past

One of the most interesting parts of the programme was the story of how the owners of so many of Britain's country houses and castles have had to change the way in which they fund the often, ongoing, specialised and very expensive repair work that these properties demand. Many have opened their doors to the general public as well as for corporate and private entertaining. Eastnor Castle is amongst those and its romantic lake setting has turned it into a popular 'exclusive use' wedding venue.

Reading the Eastnor Castle Blog gives a great insight into this unique country estate, more especially because its owner James Hervey-Bathurst (President of Britain's Historic Houses Association for the last 6 years) actually takes the time to write posts personally and about all manner of things - from features on the castle cat Nutkin to the story of the old 1962 estate works lorry, what the annual Spring cleaning at the castle involves to what it was like giving a keynote address entitled "The Restoration and Redecoration of Eastnor Castle, a Regency Mansion in the Welsh Borders" at the Charleston Art & Antiques Forum in the USA earlier this year. Incredibly varied and interesting posts and testimony to a man's love for his ancestral home. All that AND he encourages his visitors to enjoy quality, local made ice cream served in his own ice cream parlour. Now that's what I call style!

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Sep 12, 2009

Castle Ice Cream's Smiling Faces

I once heard the phrase "A smile costs nothing" and I have never forgotten it. The truth is that a smile only comes from inner happiness, a joy and sense of well being or satisfaction. Seeing a baby smile for the first time is a wonderful experience because you know it is feeling genuine happiness.

On holiday recently we stayed in a hotel where the bathroom mirror had printed around the rim the words "I have never seen a smiling face that wasn't a beautiful one".

In my own memory, I can never recall seeing someone that didn't smile whilst they were eating an ice cream cone or ice cream sundae. They may not even realise they are doing it but it's a natural reaction to a fun experience. Indeed, many of us as we grow older smile more than children when we eat ice cream.

Why is that?

Well, it could be because we feel it's just a little bit 'naughty', indulging ourselves in a special treat, especially if we are watching the calories intake or are dressed in smart clothes that don't need a splurge of ice cream dropped onto them from an ice cream cone!

Take this smartly dressed lady for example on the right, a recent visitor to Eastnor Castle's "Ice Cream Parlour" in Herefordshire, England.

She manages to enjoy a melting ice cream cone without spilling a single drop onto her clothing.

Nicely done!

Her friend (pictured left) clearly could not resist smiling whilst enjoying her ice cream cone. Again she manages to not spill a drop of it onto her clothes!

Even the girl serving behind the ice cream counter is smiling.

That's what I love about ice cream - the sheer fun of it. Whether you are a child or an adult, the magic is the same. It's also an eternal magic that never fades. In my view, as long as you love ice cream you will always be able to manage a smile.

PS. The ice cream these ladies are eating at the Eastnor Castle "Ice Cream Parlour" is, I am told, supplied by a local dairy called Brookes Dairy. Their ice cream range includes both traditional and unusual ice creams including Almond Praline, Cointreau & Orange and Choc American (vanilla with pecans, toffee and cookie pieces swirled with chocolate sauce). Don't they sound delicious! To read more go to Brookes Ice Cream products page. Even HRH Prince Charles has tasted their ice cream - and loved it!

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Aug 28, 2009

Daisy & Poppy - Ice Cream Popsicle Kids

Right now summer is still at the forefront of many people's minds and enjoying ice cream is a fundamental part of this special season - for adults and children alike.

I have just returned from holiday in The Netherlands where I observed people of all ages enjoying ice cream - families out walking eating ice cream popsicles, couples walking hand in hand enjoying ice cream cones and groups both large and small sat in ice cream parlors looking excitedly at the menu, spoilt for choice as to which delicious ice cream sundae they should order. When I returned from holiday, this 'theme' continued when I downloaded some super photos from my friend Sarah who lives in England.

Sarah has long known of my passion for all things ice cream and some time ago she told me about a wonderful ice cream parlour within the grounds of an English castle (Eastnor Castle). However, as the "Ice Cream Parlour" is only open during the summer months for visitors to the castle and its special events, I knew I would have to wait before I could see any photos. Well, the wait was worth it. I have never seen such an array of smiling faces amongst people of all age groups and all of them eating ice cream!

The best one? It has to be of Daisy (Sarah's beautiful 2 year old daughter) and her friend Poppy enjoying popsicles on a lovely English summer's day. The concentration of enjoyment in their faces is a joy to behold.

In England incidentally they don't use the term "ice cream popsicles" ... instead they call them "ice lollies". Now there's an idea for my next post - the history of the "ice pop". Before I digress too much though I will be back soon with more photos of smiling faces from the Eastnor Castle "Ice Cream Parlour".

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