The pastures of southeastern Idaho present an idyllic picture of America. The views are long and the roads uncrowded. It's a fitting place to reacquaint yourself with the simple summer joy of an ice cream cone, and I have found none better than at Reed's Dairy, a 54-year-old family-run establishment just outside the small, sleepy city of Idaho Falls.
The phrase smooth and creamy, thrown around so cavalierly by frozen-dessert purveyors these days, isn't sufficient to describe Alan Reed's ice creams, which are made from the milk of his 260 Holstein cows. They are almost supernaturally sumptuous and come in a range of delicious, if sometimes unorthodox, flavors. The list changes seasonally, but some perennial favorites are huckleberry (made from Idaho's state fruit); tangy black licorice; and German chocolate with coconut, almonds, and caramel. The strawberry is the best I've ever tasted.
Reed's father, LeRoy, started the dairy in 1955, and it quickly became known for its especially rich milk. In 1962 LeRoy opened a store on the farm; 20 years later Alan started to make ice cream, using his grandmother's recipe, in flavors proposed by family members and farmhands. The ice cream is made in a freezer similar to a home ice cream maker; it freezes the ingredients over the course of five hours, allowing the cream, milk, and sugar to achieve a velvety texture.
Reed attributes the richness of the ice cream to happy cows; his are raised without hormones or antibiotics and are milked twice a day in an open-air barn, in full view of the shop's customers. "It's the old saying," Reed says: "healthy cows, healthy milk". And really good ice cream. Reed's Dairy ships its ice cream anywhere in the country for $6 to $8 per pint (depending on the flavor). To order, call 208/522-0123 or visit www.reedsicecream.com.