Pick your berry — and come out licking
By Jason Frye
Take it from my wife, Lauren, food writers are the worst to eat with.
Which brings me to ice cream and Lewis Farms.
Last year I planned my work travels poorly and was out of town for strawberry season, and blueberry season, and blackberry season, but I was lucky enough to get there for ice cream season, which really runs the whole time they’re open, through spring and summer.
This year I’ve already traveled out of the country, across the state, had beer tastings and wine dinners and desserts galore, but every weekend I’ve been home, I’ve watched for Lewis Farms to open so I can finally have some great ice cream.
But not just any ice cream: Jackson Dairy Farm Ice Cream, which Lewis Farms packs with all the things I didn’t get to pick last year and probably won’t get to pick this year.
As summer nears, the days get perfect for stopping by Lewis Farms for herbs and flowers for our gardens; and for ice cream. Yeah, ice cream is best when summer’s can’t-touch-the-steering-wheel-hot, but a warm spring day with bright sunny skies does the trick too, so Lauren and I stopped in at Lewis Farms for ice cream cones. We’d been debating the merits of strawberry versus blueberry ice cream and had reached an impasse. I was right, she was right, no one was backing down.
When we make it to Lewis Farms for U-Pick, Lauren loves the strawberries. I’ll admit, there’s something intoxicating about a strawberry picked fresh and still holding the heat of the sun as you eat everything but the little toupee of leaves, but I don’t like picking them, too much bending over. I’m a blueberry man, and I will admit with only a tiny bit of shame that I will eat approximately one bucket of blueberries in the field as I’m trying to fill a bucket to take home. I have left Lewis Farms with a blueberry stomachache more than once.
We do the only thing that makes sense: She gets strawberry, I get blueberry. One cone and one giant scoop each.
We retreat to the shade beneath the giant umbrella on the patio. Even in the relative cool here, our ice cream melts with surprising rapidity. I guess when it’s been springtime weather since February, this is how it goes.
We bite and lick and slurp our cones. We swap halfway through and sample each other’s cone before switching back.
The color on the strawberry is much better than the blueberry. Somehow that scoop of ice cream embodies its fruit far better than mine does. And it melts slower. Or I eat slower. Either way, I’ve got blueberry down to my elbow and she’s neat as a pin.
“I can’t believe we didn’t get to do this last year,” she says. She works in travel too and ate more strawberries abroad than here at home last year.
I can’t talk; I took a big bite and am suffering from brain freeze. “Muhh hunh” is the best I can do.
“Best. Cone. Ever.” she says.
Then my brain unfreezes and the food writer thing kicks in.
“You think so?” I say.
She holds her cone at arm’s length, eyes it. “Yeah, I do. It’s so strawberry-y.”
“I’d say it’s too strawberry-y. I think the blueberry is where it’s at. Enough of the blueberry to taste the blueberry, but not too much.” What am I doing? It’s ice cream.
“But I want to taste the berry.”
“So do I,” I say, “but not just the berry. That’s all I taste in mine, I get the ice cream. The vanilla. The fatty, creamy ice cream creaminess of it. Then the blueberry.”
We swap again, tasting, thinking, tasting again. And we swap back.
“I changed my mind,” I say. “I think yours is better.”
“That’s what I was going to say,” Lauren says, taking her final cone-free bite. “But then I taste mine again and I stand by the strawberry.”
I do the same, taste, take a little nibble of cone, taste again. “Agreed, my blueberry is better.”
We nibble our cones down to nubs and eat those too. It’s not politics, there are no two sides of the ice cream aisle to be on, it’s ice cream, and it’s delicious. But it does prove one point: Food writers, we’re the worst.
Info: Lewis Farms, 6517 Gordon Road, Wilmington. U-Pick local strawberries, blueberries, blackberries and delicious homemade ice cream. 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. Monday – Saturday and 1 p.m. – 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Jason Frye is a regular Salt contributor and you can keep track of what and where he eats by following him on Instagram: @beardedwriter.