Winning tip: Ewe turn, Abergavenny, Monmouthshire
Shepherds Ice Cream Shop in Abergavenny is a Wes Anderson-styled drop-in, complete with classic Neapolitan ice-cream colours and a little hatch to fetch your favourite flavours from. The twist? It’s all made locally from sheep’s milk, the business is run by two generations of a family that has some sort of tradition around a golden scoop. Shepherds often pop up with a vintage ice-cream trailer at festivals and events around the UK. It’s my family’s year-round Friday treat.
Peak District pistachio, Derbyshire
I recently stumbled on Tagg Lane Dairy after a beautiful walk in the Derbyshire Peak District. A few miles from Bakewell in the beautiful village of Monyash, Tagg makes its own gelato from its organic Jersey herd, the flavours change frequently and are all delicious, I found on returning. Recent highlights include rhubarb, passion fruit yoghurt and pistachio. Be warned, one scoop is not enough and sometimes two isn’t either.
Steps to heaven, Edinburgh
Mary’s Milk Bar in the Grassmarket is popular with locals and visitors, and is the perfect pit stop for people dashing between fringe festival shows. Flavours change every day, with pear and gorgonzola among the regulars. You can grab your ice and take a seat on Granny’s Green Steps across the road, or walk up the Vennel Steps for stunning views of Edinburgh castle.
Jazzy flavours on the Peloponnese, Greece
Lola is just off the main street in Kardamyli, an unspoilt little village in the Peloponnese. It serves up a small selection of ice-cream flavours that changes daily, alongside gorgeously refreshing Greek frozen yoghurt (swirled fresh out of the machine). Colourful pots contain a variety of toppings – sour cherries, mandarin compote, pistachios and almonds were our favourites. The setting makes Lola particularly charming. During the day, its garden provides a peaceful retreat and shade. At night, festoon-lights and jazz make it perfect to wander into for frozen yoghurt when strolling back from a taverna.
Sublime stilton or boozy tunes, Ventnor
Crave Ices at Ventnor on the Isle of Wight invents new flavours constantly. Always over 20 choices, plenty of sweet, creamy ones, but also savoury, alcoholic and non-dairy delights. Fortunately they offer tasters to the undecided, while strangers exchange recommendations in the queue. Recent highlights include pomegranate ripple, whisky marmalade (over-18s only!), apple strudel, and, astonishingly, blue stilton (served with oatcakes and grapes, and quite sublime). Once I mentioned a flavour I’d enjoyed the previous year. They made a batch especially for me so I could have it again before I left for home.
A sight for sorbet eyes, Lake Como, Italy
The best ice-cream I’ve ever had was on the shores of Lake Como, in the town of Bellagio. Hop off the ferry and head straight to Gelateria del Borgo for one of its apple ice-creams. I first tried this on a family holiday aged 10 and it will forever live in my mind as a perfect holiday memory. Return visits many years later have not disappointed. I’ve tasted nothing like it elsewhere. Wander through the town and back to the shore until you get to the I Giardini di Villa Melzi, where you can stroll through sheltered tree-lined paths and gaze out at the spectacular lakeside scenery. If you finish your gelato before you get there, don’t worry – there’s a stall in the gardens.
Sea air and a raspberry ruffle, County Antrim
There’s a small shop in Whitehead in Northern Ireland, about 30 minutes from Belfast, called the Rinkha which since 1921 has been selling general goods and the best ice-cream in the world. Their honeycomb is my personal favourite, but my grandma Florence loves the raspberry ruffle. If you get your ice-cream and go down the road to Whitehead beach you may get a glimpse of Scotland as the Irish Sea air refreshes your senses. An absolute must-visit in Northern Ireland (with very reasonably priced and generous portions too).
Matcha making in San Sebastián
After sampling the savoury delights at San Sebastián’s renowned pintxo bars, a stroll down the city’s leafy boulevard Ijentea Kalea bordering the old town is the perfect digestive. Lined with ice-cream parlours, you can’t go wrong on this street, but one stands out. With a prime corner position, Oiartzun is both a patisserie and an unassuming heladeria. From matcha to maracuya, strawberry to stracciatella, rum to rice pudding, there is a fantastic range of flavours at only €3.50 for two generous scoops. Choose yours and walk one block to the sweeping terrace next to the Real Club Náutico de San Sebastián to enjoy one of the best coastal views in Europe across Concha beach.
Cool customers, Pézenas, France
The ice-cream kiosk Aux Parfums D’Italie (29 Rue de La Foire), is a hidden gem in the heart of Pézenas, in Hérault, France. It is frequented by locals who queue to buy enormous tubs of homemade ice-creams, sorbets and tiramisu to take away, and by tourists who perch on the rickety red metal chairs. The standout ice-cream flavour, Saveur du Sud (clementine, fig, almond and honey), is to die for. The refreshing sorbets, including pink grapefruit and lemon, and artisan granitas are a perfect way to cool down after meandering around the cobbled streets of this historic town.
Napoli nudge, Totnes, Devon
“Che buono! The best gelato al pistachio outside Naples!” exclaimed my son’s Italian girlfriend on her first visit to Delphini’s in Totnes. Giovanni grinned and gave her an extra, free scoop. Every day there’s a queue outside this gelateria in this progressive south Devon town. Delphini’s gelato is made on the premises with organic local milk and cream – also dairy-free and vegan options for Totnes’s alternative crowd. If pistachio’s not your thing, then I highly recommend Belgian chocolate, mint stracciatella and salted butter caramel. Flavours change daily and they do free tasting.