'Grass' Ice Cream
After the Ramp leaves wilt and stalks get ‘woody’, I look for another green vegetable to thrive on, to enjoy at its prime for the brief yet fulfilling amount of time. I turn my attention to another spring perennial: Asparagus.
After years of eating less that satisfactory asparagus from the supermarket (most likely from another country) I was turned on to a source of asparagus that I hadn’t heard about, even though it was literally an hour away from where I had grown up. Hadley, Massachusetts was and still is famed for its coarse and sandy silt loam soil that asparagus thrives in. ‘Hadley silt loam’ is among the highest grades of soil for that reason. ‘Hadley Grass’ is the talk of the town and even the state around the months of May and June.
Asparagus, naturally, contributes to health with detox properties, aids against arthritis and osteoporosis, lowers heart disease risk, and has age reducing agents.
I drove out to Hadley to pick some up and yup, just as the hype had built, this was amazing asparagus, amazingly sweet, and so much more flavorful than its dull look-alike sitting in the produce mist at a supermarket.
Naturally my ‘chef’ ego set in and I imagined various preparations, ‘riffs’ have you, for the Hadley Grass to get the full out of it in the brief window it lasted (May-June).
There were the classic steamed, boiled, and grilled that my family and I had been doing to every other vegetable under the sun. Then there was roasted asparagus, pickled asparagus, raw shaved asparagus salad, tastiest of asparagus soups and even asparagus summer rolls made from the collected ends of a few bunches. An appropriate cheese to pair with this asparagus: shaved Sardinian Calcagno.
I thought I cooked, or at least read, about it all until I caught wind of a small dairy farm with a restaurant called Flayvors making its own… wait for it… Hadley Grass ice cream! My head sparked a neon road sign that read, “Perfect for a culture blog” and I immediately called Flayvors of Cook Farm in Hadley, Massachusetts to get directions, hours of operation, permission to take pictures, and to shake the hands of the person who made this flavor into a signature and sought out treat.
As a side note, savory ice creams are not really my forte (I’ve tried bacon, garlic, tomato and was even given a spoon full of smoked salmon flavor that was interesting but didn’t persuade me to get 2 scoops on a waffle cone with sprinkles..) As a cook, I am always open to try something at least once.
Upon meeting one of the proprietors, Beth Cook and hearing a brief story of the farm’s history and the decision to make asparagus ice cream, I grabbed a spoon and took a deep breath. Wow! It was really, really good. The taste of the creamy asparagus was immediately distinguished followed by a textural note of chopped almonds that had been presumably added to counteract and mellow out the asparagus flavor from the palate as if to say, “We want you still to have an ice cream experience, here”. I wandered around the beautiful dining room and fields where they kept Holstein and Jersey cows, some that gave the milk for that very ice cream. Before I left I tasted my way through their 20+ other flavors and had them hand pack 2 pints for home (yes, one was asparagus).
I encourage you to visit Flayvors of Cook Farm if in or around Hadley or in Western Massachusetts and try it for yourself.
I also want to hear what other unexpected flavors anyone has tasted or even made.
Here’s to a summer of local eats and refreshing treats!