Thursday, July 21, 2016

Ice Cream Fore-U, New Hampshire

Summertime, in the north east, is about ice cream.  Sometimes froyo.  When I go visit, I manage to get ice cream basically daily.  I'm a bad influence on everyone around me, but, my visits are usually scoped to two weeks or less.  And I take full advantage of that time.

Last week, you read about my absolute favorite place for soft serve ice cream, Dairy Twirl, in Lebanon, NH.  Earlier this week you read about my favorite soft serve froyo and sundaes at the Boston area chain JP Licks.  Today brings a review of the other ice cream stand near my home town: Ice Cream Fore-U.

The Setting

Like Dairy Twirl, Fore-U is open only seasonally, generally Memorial Day through Labor Day.  Like Dairy Twirl, it is just an ice cream stand, not a restaurant, although it is located adjacent to a facility with mini-golf course, driving range, and batting cages, hence the name Fore-U.
The Stand.
The stand is more attractive than Dairy Twirl, as it is a nice wooden structure with multiple spread out windows to order at.  They have plenty of picnic tables under a roofed area and even a bathroom.

They also *always* have a line.  I have been there at 11am when they open, I've been there at 9pm at night.  In the rain.  In the heat.  In the cold.  It doesn't matter.  The line is always really, really long.  And it isn't because service is slow.  The place is just that popular, serving far more people than Dairy Twirl.  I suspect this is due to the location on the main strip in West Lebanon.

The Ice Cream

Just like Dairy Twirl, they offer Gifford's hard serve ice cream, and Hood soft serve ice cream.  The menu also has shakes, malts, smoothies, and sundaes, plus a few extra items like hot dogs and chips.  And coffee. A bigger selection the Dairy Twirl for sure.

Soft serve is always what I go for.  Fore-U offers up 4 flavors at a time: chocolate, vanilla, and black raspberry, plus a flavor that changes weekly.  Contrast this with Dairy Twirl, with 6 flavors at a time, including the same vanilla/chocolate/black raspberry, plus coffee, and two more that rotate.   (Side note: is the prevalence of black raspberry a thing in other areas?  I don't really feel like I've seen as much black raspberry anywhere but NH ...)

Fore-U also offers up an additional 40 or so more flavors through an infusion system, where they inject a syrup into the ice cream.  So even if a base flavor, or the weekly special, isn't your thing, there are tons of choices here.

Like Dairy Twirl, I've tried a ton of flavors of ice cream at Fore-U, and, none of the flavors are ever as intense as Dairy Twirl.  You would think that since the base is Hood in both locations, that it would be nearly the same.  But ... it just isn't.  I believe Hood only makes vanilla and chocolate, so, all flavors are done by the shops themselves with a mix-in.  The core flavors are certainly more flavorful than the infusion systems, but, still, Dairy Twirl is overall more flavorful.  Hood also makes their base in several different milk fat percentages (5%, 10%), and I'm not sure what either place uses.  I'm guessing 10%, as they are both quite creamy.

The one area that Fore-U really does win however is the price.  When I started taking notes a couple years ago, the size cone I got was $1.  $1!!!  

And speaking of those sizes.  Sizes range from baby, to x-small, small, medium, large, then pint or quart.  Yes, they have not one, but two sizes smaller than a small.  And, um, they are very, very generous sizes.  I've accidentally ordered the x-small a few times, forgetting that baby is actually the smallest, and it really is too much for me.  A baby size of hard ice cream is two full scoops.  An x-small is three.  And so on.  You can pick any two flavors to have in a cone, layers, or, if they are on the same machine, swirled.  They only do a single layer, not multiple like Dairy Twirl.

Prices are the same for both hard and soft serve, unlike Dairy Twirl that gives a discount for soft serve.  If you choose a flavor infusion, it is more expensive, I think $0.50 more, as they have to individually prepare the flavor for you.

Anyway, based on value alone, I pick Fore-U.  Prices have gone up slightly, but, just several years ago, I could get a cone, larger than I wanted even, for $1.  It now is $1.50 (plus 10 cents for my sprinkles/dip), so, still better than Dairy Twirl's $1.75 + $0.50, but, the flavors really are better at Dairy Twirl, so, it is where I generally head.  I won't say no to swinging by Fore-U when I'm in the area though!
Vanilla with Rainbow Sprinkles, Baby. $1.50 + $0.10.
As basic as it gets: vanilla with rainbow sprinkles, always a classic choice, and one I order often when I don't feel inspiration for a particular flavor.

The vanilla at Fore-U tends to be nicely creamy, with a decent vanilla flavor.  My numerous tasting notes say things like, "Creamy, nice flavor, pretty good", or "Nice creamy decent flavor", or "Creamy, subtle vanilla" and so on.  I regularly note how creamy it is.

Sprinkles are available in rainbow or chocolate, and are always well applied.

This is always a solid choice at Fore-U, particularly given that I get disappointed by the flavors.

Here you can also see the baby cone size.  This is a decent size ice cream, nothing really "baby about it.
Black Raspberry with Chocolate Sprinkles, Baby, $1.50 + $0.10.
Black Raspberry is the only flavor, besides vanilla and chocolate, that is always offered.

It is decently creamy, just like the vanilla, but, the black raspberry flavor is very subtle.  It doesn't necessarily taste like raspberry, just, some subtle fruitiness.

I have ordered this flavor more times than I can count, because I always want to like it, but, alas, it never has enough flavor for me.  Dairy Twirl has a much, much better black raspberry.

I always pair my black raspberry with chocolate sprinkles.

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Other Weekly Flavors

I've tired the weekly special nearly every time I have visited, but I rarely pick them, as the flavors just fail to impress.  All are nicely creamy though.  Some tasting notes:
  • Banana: creamy, banana-y, but uh, meh.
  • Chocolate: creamy, but I don’t like this chocolate flavor [ I just don’t like chocolate ice cream ]
  • Coconut: creamy, nice coconut flavor
  • Espresso: Creamy, but not much flavor at all [ Creamy, decent coffee flavor ]
  • Orange: Fake, sweet, meh. [ Creamy, good flavor, would have liked swirled with vanilla ]

Flavor Infusions

As I mentioned, you can get basically any flavor you want, via the Wadden Systems infusions.  Fore-U has multiple extra flavor cards, literally, at least 40 more options.  These are made by injecting the syrup into a vanilla base.

Choices are basically every fruity flavor you could imagine (apricot, banana, blueberry, black cherry, blackberry, lemon, orange, peach, pina colada, raspberry, strawberry, etc), plus boozy options (amaretto, rum), or sweet (caramel, butter pecan, maple nut, cheesecake), and more.  I've tried a bunch over the years, but, since you can't taste test these before you order (since they mix them up individually, you have to commit without trying, something I'm always hesitant to do).

I'm glad they offer so many options, but, the flavors just aren't nearly as intense as I'd like.

Maple Nut (bottom) Peanut Butter (top) with Rainbow Sprinkles, Extra Small.  $2.50 + $0.25.
On one visit, I didn't like the weekly flavor, and I was sick of regular vanilla, and grumpy at the flavorless black raspberry, so, I opted to go for flavor infusions, not just one, but, two.  Hedge my bets.

I accidentally ordered an Extra Small, as the person in front of me (my mom) ordered an Extra Small, and I accidentally repeated what she said.  Plus, um, doesn't that sound like it should be the smallest one?  What I meant to order was a Baby cone of course, the option *smaller* than the extra small.  Doh.  It might not be obvious in this photo, but, they actually use a bigger cone for the x-small than the baby.

It really was more ice cream than I wanted at the time.  I love ice cream, but, I just wasn't in the mood for this quantity.  It was night time, not very warm, and I'd just had a big dinner.  I just wanted a final sweet treat, not a massive commitment.  My bad.   (Side note: I really can't imagine getting an actual small.  Or medium.  Or large.  Or extra-large.  I mean, REALLY?!)

The ice cream was fine, fairly creamy, but not remarkable.

The peanut butter flavor infusion didn't have much peanut butter flavor to it at all.  It was very, very subtle if anything.  Honestly, it tasted like vanilla.  This matches my notes from all the other times I tried it, where I note that the peanut butter flavor is good, but, too hard to detect in the ice cream, particularly if you add sprinkles.

The Maple Nut was a bit better, as I could actually taste something besides vanilla.  It had a nice sweetness to it.

Overall, this was all just fine.  It wasn't icy, it was creamy, but it wasn't anything special.

The sprinkles were ... too generously applied.  I know that sounds ridiculous, but, I actually ended up scraping some off, because in this quantity, it was just way too many sprinkles.

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More Infusions.
  • Butter Pecan: very sweet, enjoyable, but I wouldn’t get again.
  • Creme de Menthe: Minty but kinda fake tasting, not very good.
  • Coconut: a bit coconuty but not remarkable.
  • White Chocolate: did not like.  Way too sweet, not good flavor.

Toppings

Fore-U is better at pricing than Dairy Twirl for toppings.  At Dairy Twirl, all toppings are $0.50, no matter if you get the smallest cone or the largest, and no matter if that topping is sprinkles or if it is peanut butter cups.   At Fore-U, sprinkles and dips are only $0.10 for baby cones, $0.25 for everything else, and other toppings are $0.25/$0.50 accordingly.  This makes so much more sense, and, I always do get a bit grumpy spending an extra $0.50 to add some cheap sprinkles on my cone at Dairy Twirl (of course, JP Licks wins this one, always offering sprinkles for free).

The topping selection is pretty classic and decently extensive, with all sorts of candy and sauce toppings, but, I always go for sprinkles or dip.  Sprinkles are available in rainbow or chocolate, dip in cherry, chocolate, or butterscotch.

Sprinkles are always applied generously, sometimes almost too generously.  I've only ever had the chocolate dip, but, I've never cared for it.  It never seemed to harden as much as the dip at Dairy Twirl, not creating the same kind of shell, and, it had no flavor at all.
Ice Cream Fore-U Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
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