Summer is flying by but there’s still plenty of time to get out there to enjoy the beach and eat on a patio. One of the best things to do following that patio meal is to grab some ice cream. PEI is, of course, famous for Cow’s ice cream, but there’s also a dairy bar culture that’s pretty unique in the Maritimes.
Cow’s ice cream is a legendary destination in PEI. The line-ups at their Queen Street location in Charlottetown are constant and are helped by the smell of their waffle cones emanating out of the doorway. Cow’s gets it right even as they grow, their quality has remained constant. Their vanilla base is rich, creamy and delicious, with a high fat content. I like to keep it simple with a scoop of vanilla or one of the berry based, but the quality of their ingredients shine in all of their offerings. Stop for the ice cream, but don’t skip out on their cheese or butter (their cultured butter is a particular favourite of mine).
Cow’s is a treat, but for locals sometimes the line is just a bit too long or it may be a late-night ice cream emergency. In those cases, Downtown Convenience is a beacon of ice cream goodness. They stock the reliably delicious ADL ice cream and always have a strong selection of flavours. I’m a big fan of ADL’s toffee almond twist. If you’re more in the mood for some soft serve, check out the Kiwanis Dairy Bar in Victoria Park. A beautiful location for a treat on a sunny day.
The Holman Ice Cream Parlour in Summerside is a jump back in time. The employees are uniformed in paper hats and the traditional ice cream scooper garb. I had the strawberry ice cream and it was some of the best I’ve ever had. Creamy and rich, but not as buttery as Cow’s, the flavour of what I can only assume are fresh Island strawberries, were fantastic. You can feel the care the owner’s put into this place, from the old fashioned atmosphere to the small batch ice cream. A perfect stop in Summerside, maybe after lunch at South Central Provisions.
The amount of dairy bars on the Island is something really unique and harkens back to PEI’s status as a summer destination. The Island’s ability to retain that status is signalled by the persistence of these spots. Let’s be honest, the soft serve or ADL scooped ice cream found at these places is pretty much uniformly good. What makes these spots so much fun is making the stop with family or friends and taking a minute out of the day for some simple pleasures. Whether it’s Frosty Treat in Kensington, Huntley Horizon in Alberton, Phinley’s Dairy Bar in Stratford, or The Dairy Bar in Souris, it’s worth a stop.
Finally, for something completely unique check out Truckin’ Roll’s food truck on Grafton Street in Charlottetown or their new location in Founder’s Hall on the waterfront. They do both traditional dairy and vegan ice cream that’s hand rolled ice cream with really unique ingredients. For me, the coconut based vegan ice cream is the best option, particularly the one with brownies.
Get out there and enjoy some ice cream and the beauty of PEI!