Photo by Michael Piazza
If you’ve ordered ice cream for dessert at a Boston-area restaurant in the past 20 years and loved it, chances are it came from Christina’s Homemade Ice Cream in Cambridge. Using only cream, milk, and sugar as a base, owner Ray Ford creates custom flavors from ingredients stocked in his spice shop (adjacent to the ice cream store). Over 400 area restaurants buy from him weekly. In addition to the typical chocolate chip, coffee, and French vanilla, Christina’s menu boasts flavors like green tea—made with real Japanese matcha powder—coconut cream, Grand Marnier, cinnamon rice pudding, and carrot cake.
But in summertime he sets the intense flavors of dried spices aside in favor of more delicate, subtle, fresh ingredients. Beginning in early June, Ford orders herbs and flowers from Eva’s Garden in South Dartmouth, Massachusetts, and begins making small batches of seasonal flavors like fresh rose petal, fresh chocolate peppermint, anise hyssop, honey lavender, and sage. Available in limited quantities and for just a few weeks in June and early July, these flavors sing of the season, so be sure to make a trip to Inman Square to seek them out. But in case you miss these fleeting flavors, here’s a nod to a few of Christina’s standards, just as delightful as the seasonal varieties, but available year-round.
(pictured above, left to right)
Sweet Cream Made from just milk, cream, and sugar, this is the most straightforward of all ice creams, even more so than vanilla. Richly textured, creamy and not too sweet. Pair with ripe local berries or cut stone fruit.
Burnt Sugar Ford “burns the sugar black” outside in foil pans set on top of a barbeque grill to reduce the brown sugar to a thick syrup, then mixes it with cream and milk. Its bittersweet amber flavor is much like the top of a crème brulee.
Ginger Molasses Freshly grated ginger and dark, treacly molasses evoke the best gingersnap cookie, creamy and spicy and rich. A perennial favorite, any time of year.
Khulfi Along with mango, coconut, and ginger, it was Indian restaurants’ orders for this cardamom-infused pistachio-studded ice cream that prompted Ford to start making it at the shop. But unlike the traditional Indian dessert which can be thick, icy, and dense, Christina’s version blends the flavorings of khulfi with the texture of traditional American-style ice cream for a smooth and creamy exotic treat.
Christina’s Ice Cream 1255 Cambridge Street, Cambridge 617.492.7021 christinasicecream.com
Sarah Blackburn is a home cook, recipe developer, vegetable gardener and managing editor of Edible Boston. She can be reached at email@example.com