Friday, 24 July 2009
A Visit to Big Bay General Store for Ice-Cream
Big Bay is an attractive little hamlet on Grey Road 26, east of Wiarton. There is a small wharf, a number of cottages... and the Big Bay General Store, which is worth a detour if you are driving between Owen Sound and Wiarton, for their homemade ice-cream. We discovered it a few years back when we were taking the scenic route home from a camping trip. Did that sign really say homemade ice-cream? Yes, it DID! Screeeech! Back-up!
The General Store has a nice porch with lovely flowers and there is a pic-nic table on the lawn... just the spot to eat ice-cream.* Are you getting the picture? It's called a general store, but what Bob and Pat Carriere mostly sell, besides a handful of basics, some cold drinks and some souvenir items is ice-cream. They've been selling their home-made ice-cream for 13 years now, and their roster consists of at least 85 different flavours.
They don't have all 85 flavours at once, mind you. This selection of 11 is typical. It's a good thing, because even out of 11 there were about 6 that I would have been really, really, really happy to eat and making a decision was tough. We've yet to take some home by the litre, but we could.
They keep track of their sales on this whiteboard. It's been a bit slow this summer, not surprisingly, given the cool rainy weather we've been having. They open up in the spring, after Easter, for weekends until Victoria Day. After that they're open pretty much all the time until Labour Day, when they go back to weekends for a while. Their hours do tend to vary with the weather, to which ice-cream sales are inevitably tied.
Bob Carriere dishes up a cone. I don't know if you can read the prices behind him on the wall; it's $3 for a single scoop, $4.50 for 2, with small extra charges for sugar or waffle cones - prices include tax. You can get shakes and sundaes as well. These are remarkably standard ice-cream prices for some remarkably non-standard ice-cream.
C'mon, c'mon. Make up your mind!
Like I said, it's tough to do. Bob and Pat make a great range of flavours; some made with local seasonal fruits, others in more exotic flavours. There's always something gingery and spicey, which makes me very happy. Apparently it's the influence of an Asian daughter-in-law.
In the end, I opted for a scoop of "Gingerbread" and "Coconut Ice" in a waffle cone. I couldn't say which I liked better - they were both great, although I'm not sure they really went together as a combo, but no big problem, I ate one then switched to the other. Mr. Ferdzy had "Chocolate-Peanut" and "Maple Walnut". He says they were both very good but the "Maple Walnut" had a slight edge. Not surprising; it's made with actual maple syrup and is full of walnuts. Not something you see too often nowadays.
Apparently they are just waiting for the lavender to bloom at which point they will make lavender ice cream.
How many out-of-the-way little ice-cream shops have a guest book packed full of accolades? Just the ones who deserve it, I guess!
* If you wish to wander a little further afield, Keppel Croft Farm and Gardens is just a hop, skip and a jump down the street.