Sugar Rush: Susanna's Ice Cream at Sweet Berry Farm, Middletown, Rhode Island
Sweet Berry Farm is one of New England's best-kept secrets. It's got a little bit of everything—pick-your own fruit, 100 acres of farmland, and a post-and-beam farm café. There's a lot of great food inside that café, including some of the best ice cream in New England.
The ice creams and sorbets of Susanna's Ice Creams are handmade in the Sweet Berry Kitchen by Susanna Williams. She isn't on the staff at the farm, but I can see why the chefs let her share their kitchen space. Her ice creams and sorbets are some of the best I've ever had, and considering that they're sold out of a freezer case and aren't scooped fresh, that's really saying something.
The ice cream starts with a custard base that uses cream from Tiverton's Arruda Dairy. From there, Susanna uses a combination of more exotic flavorings like Belgian Callebaut chocolate and hyper-local ingredients like Sweet Berry Farm's own berries and peaches. The ice creams manage to taste both light and rich, with a fairly dense texture. The sorbets, on the other hand, are dairy-free and a little icy, though in a good way. They don't scoop very well, but they're easy to scrape (kind of like an Italian ice) and they dissolve into a nothingness that's perfectly refreshing.
With all her flavorings, Susanna uses a heavy hand. When there's coconut or citrus in the name, the containers are heavily flecked with that shredded fruit or zest. And when caramel is involved, it's decadently buttery and sweet. In the six years since she churned her first batch of gooseberry ice cream, Susanna has built up a list of all-season items as well as a few dozen seasonal flavors. Many are familiar, but some, like the Rose Geranium, Elderflower, and Cantaloupe Ginger, reflect Susanna's creativity and British upbringing. She rotates through the menu depending on seasonal availability, but you can call ahead or just show up and feel confident that there will something delicious there. They're available in three sizes: 4-ounce ($2.99), half-pints ($5.49), and pints ($9.99). Perfect for tasting a few or stocking up on your favorite.
Sweet Berry Farm
About the author: Kate Shannon is a cheesemonger by day and line cook by night. Although she calls Boston home, she hasn't lost her love for the fried cheese curds and Chicago-style hotdogs of the Midwest. She believes that leftover Thai takeout makes the best lunches and that strawberry shortcake is meant to be breakfast, not dessert.