Maple Creemees

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I think you've probably picked up on my maple madness by now, so this shouldn't come as a surprise: my ideal summer treat is not a popsicle, a sundae or even an ordinary ice cream cone. It's a maple creemee.

Creemee may be a peculiarly Vermont term, or at least unique to New England, as I haven't heard it since I moved away. Basically, it's what other people call soft-serve ice cream, the kind that swirls beautifully into one of those torch-shaped cones. (The spelling is open to debate, but it's pronounced just like the word "creamy.")

Typically, you get these at a "creemee stand," the kind of establishment with a walk-up window and a bunch of high-school kids getting their first taste of a summer job. You don't bother taking more than a few steps before giving it a good licking. Maybe you make it as far as a sticky picnic table; maybe you just lean on the hood of your car. If you came with other people, you don't talk much until your tongues have worked their way down to cone level, where there's less risk of losing the precious stuff to meltdown. (Although if you drop it, they'll probably give you another one for free. Meanwhile, your dog will be ecstatic. Not that I would know...)

Of course, creemees come in ordinary flavors, like vanilla and chocolate, and those are pleasant. But in Vermont you can also find creemees flavored with real maple syrup, which gives them a light golden hue and the sweet taste of, well, maple. Sorry. Words fail me. They're that good.

Many people think the state's best maple creemees are at Morse Farm in Montpelier, and after trying one this summer, I can see why—plenty of real syrup flavor, married with a rich, smooth texture that lives up to the name's promise. Personally, I still prefer the creemees at the Vermont Maple Outlet between Jeffersonville and Cambridge, though I may be a bit biased because I grew up in that area.

If you think my creemee fanaticism is bad, I'd just like to point out that others have it worse: there's a Creemee fan page on Facebook, with nearly 10,000 fans, and one Vermonter has an entire blog called I Dream of Creemee.

Have you heard of creemees? What's your favorite kind of ice cream?

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