Being surrounded by sea, the Isle of Wight certainly has the ‘Lyons’ share when it comes to ice cream pit stops. Whether it’s a 99 cone on the beachfront in Ventnor, a scoop atop of the Brading Downs or watching the world go by in an ice cream parlour in Cowes, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to the cold stuff.
As the sun is shining and the school holidays are upon us, cafes around the Island are opening their shutters ready for the daily ice cream queue. Said queue is well worth the wait when you get to the front at Toppings on Shanklin Seafront. Choose from their wide array of Kelly’s Ice Cream flavours and (as the name suggests) go mad with the toppings – sprinkles, sweets, sauces and more. Or go the extra mile with the legendary dipped whippy- a 99 whippy cone dipped into melted chocolate…heaven.
Alongside cafes and beaches, there’s a new place to spend your time -Ice cream and gelato parlours once only found in America and Italy, are now proving popular all over the UK and there are a few to choose from here on the Island. But first thing’s first, whilst gelato is the Italian name for ice cream, the two are not the same. Generally speaking, gelato has a higher proportion of milk and a lower proportion of cream and is churned at a much slower rate introducing less air into the base (think whipping cream by hand vs with an electric mixer). That is why it tastes more dense than ice cream – it is.
Frozen Gelato in Newport make authentic Italian gelato with a selection of up to 22 different flavours. Experimental flavours abound such as Jaffa Cake and Kinder Happy Hippo, plus there is a suggestion box for customers to put their ideas for new flavours in.
If it’s ice cream you are after, then Bliss in Cowes are working their way through Minghella’s extensive flavour list. They always have 16 set flavours such as Peanut Butter Bliss, Turkish Delight, English Custard, Gin & Pink Grapefruit sorbet (Salty Seaspray Caramel is a best seller) and up to five ‘guest’ flavours at any one time.
Make like royalty and enjoy an ice cream on Queen Victoria’s private beach at Osborne House. Here the Pavilion Beach Ice Cream Parlour serves up the Isle of Wight’s famous Minghella Ice Cream and provides the perfect regal spot to relax with stunning views across the Solent.
If you happen to be bobbing about in the Solent (lucky you!) then keep your eyes peeled for Mike and his ice cream boat. Cruising around the Solent during the season, Mike sells Minghella ice creams to boats from his freezer on board. You can’t fail to miss him with a giant ice cream atop of his cabin!
Crave in Ventnor opened its original 1930s doors in 2015 and make all their ice cream and sorbets daily to their own recipes. The 15 flavours are ever changing and in the last year they have made over 300 flavours. Popular choices include Bakewell Tart or Battenberg (there’s a cake theme here somewhere..) or if you are feeling extra adventurous, you could ask to try the candied maple bacon flavour or Thai Spice, a mixture of coconut, lime, lemongrass, ginger and mild chilli!
You can try the differences for yourself by visiting both gelato and ice cream parlours (purely for research!). Muzza’s in Sandown is a gelato parlour using milk from Queen Bower Dairy in Alverstone, whose milk is still warm when they make their 18-24 flavours. Expect a range of flavours from traditional chocolate, mint etc through to kiwi, apple pie, eton mess or their own take on Ferrero Rocher.
Internationally renowned Minghella have been making award-winning (they have over 80 Great Taste awards) ice cream and sorbets here for over 60 years. The range of flavours produced in their factory situated at Briddlesford Lodge Farm is impressive to say the least – with over 230 flavours ranging from classic mint-choc-chip to Basil, King of Herbs and even Wasabi Spicecream! The Cappuccino Coffee ice cream was the first flavour to be created by Edward Minghella in the 1950s, and is still made to the original recipe today.
All the ice cream is produced using the milk and cream from the Guernsey herd at Briddlesford Lodge Farm, which contains 12% more protein and 33% more vitamin D than average milk.
The Isle of Wight Ice Cream Company makes ice cream in their factory at the heart of the Island in Newport, with the milk coming from their herd only five miles away in Shalfleet. Flavours are named with local twists such as Bembridge Bubblegum and Tennyson Triple Chocolate. Made by four born and bred Islanders (or Caulkheads as they are known!) Caroline, Jenny, Louise and Steve have travelled around Italy honing their skills. It’s a tough job!
Maybe the original ice cream parlour on the Island, Plaza Ice Cream Parlour opened in Cowes in 2004. Offering around 22 flavours of popular Kelly’s ice cream including cream tea and lemon crunch flavour. In 2007 they added ice cream vans to their range. Find them at many local events including The Garlic Festival and Bestival or visit at their static site in St James’ Square where you can find it parked most days between April and September.