ode to herrell's



one of the best parts of returning to northampton is visiting our old favorite eateries. we had pinocchio's pizza (you can't beat portabellas, fresh mozzerella, sliced tomato, fresh basil, and garlic on a slice) and india house -- i've still never tasted better indian food than this, and we used to live just two doors down from it. then, of course, herrell's -- the best ice cream i've ever had in my life. we let eva dive in and eat as much as she liked, and i'm glad her first real experience with ice cream was at herrell's.

with apologies to austinites, amy's is good but just doesn't hold a candle to herrell's. for a while i thought, perhaps i'm idealizing herrell's in my memory, and it's not all i'm rememering it to be. but now that i've returned (and had amy's and herrell's within a day of each other), i can say for certain, there's just no contest. (my ice cream obsessed sisters and the two others i know who have had both all agree.) amy's seems to arrive at a creamy mouth feel through the brute-force method of upping the butterfat content, which leaves me feeling decidedly ill after the smallest portion. herrell's has the most beautiful creamy texture, light and silky, the result of a good recipe that is also expertly frozen. and you can't beat the selection of the many rotating flavors, 40 or so of which are available on any given day (along with a really good "no moo" version). it's intersting to note, amy worked for steve's (the original chain opened by steve herrell which has since gone corporate) when she was in college and after, which explains the many similarities between amy's and herrell's that confused me when i first moved here. and i found out just recently that steve's was the very first in the country to do "mix-ins" or "smoosh-ins" (like amy's "crush-ins"), which of course became a much larger trend (the source of current supermarket flavors like cookies'n'cream or heath bar crunch, see the full history here).

we used to go to herrell's all the time in college, it was an institution. i remember being there goofing around reading tarot cards with housemates my first year, or schlepping downtown in the rain to decompress with friends after midterms, or trading childhood stories over ice cream at the end of a first date, or of course hanging out there with larry more times than i can count. i'm happy to add to that list a new memory of watching my daughter go nuts over her first (shared) bowl of ice cream, at our much-loved herrell's. as you can tell from the photos i took, she seemed to approve.

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