Tuesday, August 9, 2011

The Dairy Witch

All ice creameries pale in comparison to the mighty Dairy Witch in Salem, Massachusetts. I've spent a good part of my young life worshiping Somerset Creamery in Somerset and the legendary Grays Ice Cream in Tiverton, MA after long summer vacation days spent at Horseneck Beach. But today, Salem's Dairy Witch must stand and be recognized, an institution of sweet, happy dairy pleasures.
Dairy Witch is located on Boston Street in Salem. It's not near all the tourist stuff. It's not located on a nice pier out by the wharf. It's on a busy street next to a somewhat dingy looking gas station (no disrespect guys), but frankly this isn't exactly prime, high traffic real estate for an ice cream shop. You have to know about the Dairy Witch. You know about it because it's a local institution. If you had a part time job there when you were in high school, you're basically local legend, and everybody's favorite smiling face years later. In my opinion, it's more welcoming and uniquely Salem than some of the icons in the downtown area. It's a frigging witch on a broom selling soft serve, ice cream, frappes, malts, lime rickeys, and slush puppies! The actual sign alerting people to the existence of an ice cream stand back from the road features a witch riding a broom and holding a soft serve cone. How classic is that?
So when coming to the Dairy Witch, there's really only one thing that I order, and it is a New England speciality. I've never seen it outside of this area. First off, though I'm sure that the ice cream at the Dairy Witch is phenomenal, and my bigger half loves to get the extra thick frappes, when coming here, you gotta go for the soft serve. There are three flavors: vanilla, strawberry, and coffee! Coffee soft serve! Outside of New England, I've gotten a few strange looks when I try to order coffee ice cream... as a child even being given an actual coffee at a diner in Florida. I'm not sure I understand why. Coffee ice cream has been around long enough, even receiving a shout out through a quote in the finest movie ever made: Jaws. At any rate, coffee ice cream is delicious. Think of a Dunkin extra extra, but in chilled form. Yes, for years I've encountered coffee ice cream, but rarely if ever prior to the Dairy Witch have I seen it in soft serve form. So therefore, it's not to be missed. If you're feeling extra sassy, as I always am, you're practically obligated to order a "small" (don't be alarmed, it's no baby size), coffee soft serve (as previously mentioned), in a cone (why would you get something in a dish...seriously? cones are awesome and interactive)... WITH A BUTTERSCOTCH DIP! Got that? Small coffee soft serve in a cone with a butterscotch dip. How often do you see dips offered at little ice cream shops? They're actually only really featured at places that specialize in soft serve, and even then you're not guaranteed anything that can possibly be so fun to eat. So, place your order, one of the little local dolls at the stand will add up your items on a calculator that looks like it was purchased at the local dollar store, and a few seconds later, you will have an incredible, "remember your childhood" treat.
Of course, you're in a constant battle with heat if you've got the sand to mimic yours truly. (I commend you.) As soon as you receive your cone, you've gotta start licking right around the seam where the sweet, caramel-like hard shell of butterscotch meets the cake cone, but that's a strategic first lick. You can taste the butterscotch, and clean off any drips of the milky coffee soft serve. It's so pretty and spiral like. Seconds later, once you've curtailed the dripping factor, it's time to dive in with a nip off of the top. Crunchy butterscotch shell, with that light coffee ice cream flavor. Lick and bite, like and bite. This is getting a little too graphic for me. At any rate, get your creamy delight on, polishing every last bit as it melts down into the cake done. It's worth every single calorie. Happy travels to the Dairy Witch, which will forever hold a soft spot of appreciation and smiles in the deepest caverns of my aging heart.

Dairy Witch
117 Boston Street
Salem, MA 01970

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