Cream Vacation

Cream Vacation

At Milford’s Walnut Beach Creamery, colorful signage outside and tubs of artisanal ice cream inside made good counterpoints to a drizzly day. As friendly staff gave samples to the three teen taste testers accompanying me, a line quickly formed behind us.

Although sundaes, banana splits and milk shakes were all on offer, we chose simple cups plus a cone ($3.85-$6.50), then headed to the bench and chairs outside, where the silence that accompanies the first savoring of delicious food reigned. Soon we were comparing orders: Turmeric Honey Vanilla, Mad Mollye (chocolate, cinnamon, Oreos), Holy Cannoli (ricotta, chocolate-covered cannoli shells, pistachio, a hint of orange).

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According to owner Susan Patrick, her customers fall into two groups: those who stick with their favorite and those who want to try “what’s new.” Flavors are rotated seasonally, featuring a mix of “regular” options (like Coffee or Cookies and Cream) and more unusual offerings (like Thai Coconut Rice Pudding or Banana Bread). Toppings and baked ingredients, such as brownies and literal banana bread, are created from scratch on-site, “sourc locally as much as possible.”

“Our strongest suit is our staff,” Patrick says, and each year the creamery holds a contest for employees to develop a flavor and market it. She initially expected the contest to be a one-time event, but “each year it gets crazier” and the entries are “always very creative.” One recent winner incorporated ube, a Japanese purple yam, as an ingredient. “It’s not the easiest to make, but it’s been on our rotating menu ever since.”

Competition, even the friendly kind, was far from our minds as my companions and I finished up our last bits of ice cream, then walked down the block and around the corner to the beach. Revealed by the lowered tide, sporadic heaps of shells including a bright orange jingle variety dotted the shore. Remains of old piers jutted sculpturally out of the sand while another pier remnant further out was battered by small waves. Yellow and pink roses bordered the beach near the empty volleyball courts and lifeguard stands. On the current Walnut Beach pier, a lone fisherman told me he’s caught “flounder, striped bass and puffer fish” while gulls soared and called nearby.

After wandering back down the beach, we popped back into the creamery to pick up a couple of pre-packed pints ($8.25) for family and friends who hadn’t been able to join us in Milford. “Ice cream is pretty recession proof,” owner Susan Patrick says. “It’s accessible. You can do ice cream even if you’re not going on vacation.”

Or, like us, you can turn the trip to the Walnut Beach Creamery into a little vacation itself.

Walnut Beach Creamery
17 Broadway, Milford (map)
Daily noon-10pm (between Memorial Day and Labor Day); catering available
(203) 878-7738

Written and photographed by Heather Jessen.

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