Growing up in London in the 70s, one of my fondest memories is a little rhyme my nan used to recite whenever the ice cream man pulled up outside: “I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream”. Four short lines of very unsophisticated ‘poetry’ they may be, but despite nearing 47 years on this planet, they’ve never left me.
And neither has my love of ice cream.
Fast forward to the 1980s and I’m at secondary school in Chalk Farm, North London. A couple of minutes’ stroll from school was Marine Ices – what seemed to me, in my innocent early-teen years, to be the poshest ice cream parlour in the world. Admittedly, I’d not seen much of the world at that point; annual summer trips to Butlin’s in Clacton were about the limit of my globetrotting in those days. Even so – while my friends stuck to the same boring chocolate and strawberry flavours with every visit, I was an awful lot more adventurous. Not for me the dull and the humdrum: no, I would try a different flavour every time. Mango sorbet, creamy coconut, decadent rum and raisin (I felt very grown-up when I ate that), exotic pistachio – I went out of my way to experiment, and I’m very glad I did.
Now that I’m middle aged, ice cream hasn’t lost any of its appeal. None whatsoever. It still feels like a naughty treat when I do indulge; after all, at my age I should probably watch my waistline a lot more than I actually do. And so, when I heard about an ice cream parlour on Anglesey that was supposed to be the dog’s whatsits… well, what was a gal to do? Check it out, of course!
The first things that struck me about Red Boat were the building and its location. The ice cream parlour sits within a beautifully modernised Grade II-listed medieval building in the stunning historic town of Beaumaris – one of the nicest places to visit on Anglesey, incidentally, if you fancy a good day out in North Wales. Inside, the parlour had a warmth and cosiness that instantly made me feel at home.
Browsing the menus, I noted that Red Boat also serve an excellent selection of breakfasts and Dutch pancakes, and was delighted to learn that by the end of February they’d also be introducing evening meals. Duly noted for the inevitable return visit with hubby in tow!
But on this occasion I was here for one reason only: ice cream. It was a tough choice – there were simply so many flavours on the menu, I really struggled to choose. Would it be Ferrero Rocher? Apricot Sorbet? Irish Cream Cheesecake? Devon Toffee Fudge? All very tempting, but it was the Salty Caramel and Pecan that won in the end – an excellent choice, as it turned out. Beautifully creamy ice cream laden with crunchy pecan nuts and caramel that was perfectly salty – not too much, not too little – absolutely delicious. I was quite sad when I came to the end, and had to exercise a great deal of restraint to stop myself licking the bowl clean.
Resisting the temptation to order more (like I said – I need to watch my waistline) I asked if I could have a word with the owner. Tony came over and I complimented him on the delicious ice cream, the great atmosphere and attractive surroundings. He’s clearly worked hard and done a great job here. He told me he’d trained extensively at the world-famous Carpigiani University in Italy, and it was obvious that he has a real passion for his craft.
And then he let slip a little fact that he’s quite deservedly proud of: a well-travelled customer once declared that, alongside David of Sorrento and Maison Berthillon of Saint-Louis in Paris, Red Boat is one of the three finest ice cream parlours in the world. The whole world!
“And who am I to argue?” he smiled.
I’m not going to argue either. I can’t claim to have visited ice cream parlours all over the world, but I’ve been to a good few in the UK – and none, not one, served ice cream as delicious as Tony’s.