Sunday, July 7, 2013

Peanut Butter Perfection and Neighborhood Connections

Today, I am pleased to review my all-time favorite ice cream flavor, Vanilla Peanut Butter Chip!  I have tried many, many permutations of peanut butter themed ice cream: chocolate-based ice cream with peanut butter, chocolate-based with peanut butter cups, vanilla-based with peanut butter cups, peanut butter-based with chocolate chips, peanut butter-based with oreo, and the list goes on.  Vanilla Peanut Butter Chip is quite simply, hands down, the best. The only place that I have been able to find it is in Westwood, Massachusetts at Bubbling Brook.

This is a vanilla-based ice cream. The vanilla is a traditional sweet cream vanilla (as opposed to the more spicy vanilla bean).  There are thick ribbons of peanut butter running throughout the ice cream, alternating with pieces of chocolate that fall somewhere between a chocolate chip and a chocolate chunk. Although the flavor is called Vanilla Peanut Butter Chip, the 'chips' are not your average chocolate chips.  First of all, they are bigger, and are square or rectangular in size.  They are not quite as thick as chocolate chunks, but they pack more concentrated chocolate flavor than your typical chocolate chip, and provide a nice contrast in texture.  There are ample amounts of both peanut butter and chocolate chips (pieces) in this flavor.  The sweet vanilla, plus the peanut butter, and finally, the chocolate pieces, all work together beautifully. This is precisely what a peanut butter ice cream should be!

Bubbling Brook, the only place to find my favorite flavor, is that wonderful kind of small town eatery where odds are you will know the wait staff, the person scooping your ice cream, as well as the person standing next to you in line.  In today's busy world I think it's important to celebrate the connections we make with people in our day to day lives.  No matter where you live, there are those people who become part of your circle.  Perhaps it's the postman, the dry cleaner, or the waiter at your favorite diner.  Kia was one of those people for me.

Kia worked at my favorite supermarket, bagging groceries.  She was young, probably in her 20's.  She worked hard and took pride in her work.  She had a beautiful smile and a kind face, the kind of face that was a clear window to a beautiful soul.  Kia was like a little ray of sunshine, and she was one of those people whom you knew were genuine and good, to the core.  I always looked forward to Kia being the bagger on my checkout line.  

Tipping your grocery bagger was discouraged at this store, but many chose to do it anyway.  When I would try to tip Kia, she would often say "No, no tip. You pray for me.  That will be my tip." 

After years of seeing Kia in the checkout line, suddenly she wasn't there anymore.  I discovered, years later, that Kia passed away from a brain tumor. I was deeply saddened, and also full of regret that I had not made the effort to contact her after she left the supermarket.  To this day, I hope that Kia knew how much of an impact she made, and how much she brightened our days.  I have a feeling that Kia probably would tell me not to worry about it if she were here today.  She was the kind of person who seemed to operate on a different plane from everyone else.  But still, I hope she knows.  

Today, I want to thank some people in my circle.  Thank you to Al, who used to work at the post office, who always greeted people by name and asked about their day, even if you were just there to buy stamps.  To Rocky, who collects the trash and recycling with a great smile, who looks out for the dog and works hard and is always happy.  And to my friends at Bubbling Brook, for taking the time to chat about new flavors, for listening to my incessant requests for Vanilla Peanut Butter Chip,  and for putting this great flavor back on the menu.  

Thank someone in your circle today! And find some time to enjoy your favorite ice cream flavor!

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