Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Boston, eh? Professional Forays #15 (J.P. Licks) and #16 (Christina's)

The weekend of April 8-10, I was lucky enough to cover the National Conference for Media Reform in Boston, MA (read my report-back for Ms. here), and took that opportunity to sample a couple of Boston's more reputable ice cream joints.  In case you had trouble interpreting that first sentence, let me spell it out for you: The weekend of April 8-10, I used the NCMR as an elaborate, foxy ruse to sample a couple of Boston's more reputable ice cream joints.



Boston's ice cream parlors are myriad and mythic: Gourmet magazine recorded eight noteworthy parlors, and it should be noted that one of my NYC favorites, Emack and Bolio's, got its start here too.  Bostonians' appetite for ice cream is also the stuff of legend; a food writer friend of mine, Indrani Sen, has attempted to explain why residents of this wretchedly cold New England city eat more ice cream per capita than anywhere else, and could only conclude that the city's high student population ensures a plentiful supply of young people looking for a cheap date locale.   NB: Ben and Jerry reached the same conclusion.


First stop was J.P. Licks, since it was around the corner from the Thai place where my best friend Katie and I had dinner.  Spring was still in previews, but despite the 40-degree-weather, students were lined up for their cones.  Many of them did in fact appear to be on dates, and I was briefly reminded how much of my college-era courtship revolved around ice cream.  None of that ended particularly well, but I refrained from telling the young lovers that.


J.P. Licks does a lot of community work, which is commendable, but the ice cream - I got Oreo cookie dough and mint oreo - was merely okay.  It was very creamy, but as I've whined before, creamy at the expense of flavorful.  I should probably give ice cream a handicap since it's clear I prefer gelato to old-fashioned ice cream, but I can't believe that it's impossible to make rich, creamy, American-style ice cream that's also flavorful.  I don't see why a high butterfat content should preclude a strong, clear flavor, unless that's chemically impossible (chemists, feel free to weigh in.)


Happy face!
The following night Katie and I walked over to Christina's, in Inman Square, where I also picked up a fabulous little vintage black dress.  Christina's is Katie's favorite, and had also been recommended to me by several trusted sources.  I sampled their famous Burnt Sugar, which was nice - like a sophisticated, not-as-sweet caramel flavor - and the carrot cake, which did nothing for me (I'd rather eat a real piece of carrot cake.)  Far more impressive was the magisterial malted vanilla, a very malty, very vanilla-y flavor that I could honestly eat until I turned comatose.  I also got Mexican chocolate, which could have been more chocolate-y, upon reflection (it was very Mexican, in the sense that the cinnamon was prominent), and coffee Oreo, an oft-overlooked combination if there ever was one.


Empty bowl --> sad face.
While the flavors - especially that malted vanilla - won me over, the texture left something to be desired.  It was slightly aerated, as though their freezing machine was faulty or they'd used some fillers or stabilizers that prevented it from being as dense and pure as one (me) would have wanted.  I don't know what's stopping them from going all-out on perfection.  It could be the jack of all trades, master of none phenomenon: does offering fifty flavors make it impossible to give each one the attention it deserves?
The overwhelming selection at Christina's.


J.P. Licks, 1312 Mass Ave, 617 - 492 - 1001, open Monday-Friday 6am - midnight, Saturday-Sunday 8am - midnight, for more locations, click here.

Christina's, 1255 Cambridge St, (617) 492-7021






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