In light of the almost-spring-like temperatures we've had of late, my dad and I decided to take a short trek up to Gettysburg, Pennsylvania to take in the historic battlefields (it's less than 2 hours by car). While I didn't see too many promising gluten and dairy-free options in the town itself, I was intrigued to see that our route would take us through Frederick, Maryland's second-largest city.
In going down a gluten and dairy-free rabbit hole, I stumbled across what for me is a unicorn: a gluten and dairy-free ice cream shop. Always up for a short detour in the name of safe ice cream, we set our course for Frederick's North Market Pop Shop as the perfect stop for an afternoon pick-me-up in route back to Washington.
What's magical about North Market Pop Shop is that stepping through the threshold instantly makes you feel like a kid again, with floor-to-ceiling shelves stocked with colorful sodas from around the world and candy galore. It's overwhelming in the best possible way, and that's before you even get to the ice creams (vegan and dairy-containing).
Unlike most shops offering vegan frozen desserts, North Market Pop Shop's offerings give dairy-free diners the rarest of pleasures: lots of choices! Choose between soy, almond, or coconut flavors (sourced from So Delicious, Breyers, and Coconut Bliss respectively). Note that the only vegan flavor that contains gluten is the cookies n' cream almond milk variety (because it contains real oreos). If you have any questions, be sure to ask their staff. The day I visited, they were super helpful and didn't mind checking (and double-checking labels and using clean scoops).
Not only do vegans and dairy-free folks have a choice of ice creams, they also can choose between two different types of whipped cream: almond-based and coconut-based. What a wonderful treat!
And if that's not enough choice for those with dietary restrictions, North Market Pop Shop offers two types of cones: cake and sugar. In my excitement, I forgot to ask about ingredients for these because I was busy debating what to order... which gives me a perfect excuse to go back sometime soon!
If cone versus cup isn't enough of a choice, the shop also offers other options to enjoy your ice cream: floats, milkshakes, and sundaes are also available.
For my in-store treat I ordered the peanut butter vanilla almond milk ice cream from Breyers. I haven't spotted this brand at my local stores, so it intrigued me to see how it would measure up to others I have tried. It was truly love at first bite because the rich, creamy vanilla base was generously swirled with nutty peanut butter.
The combination was absolutely irresistible, and totally reminded me of moose tracks (sans the chocolate), which was my favorite flavor of ice cream before gluten and dairy exited my diet. It's probably well enough too that I only ordered a small cup. Left to my own devices I could have easily eaten twice the amount, maybe even more!
Not one to squander such a rare experience to order ice cream from a soda shop, I decided to order a vegan milkshake to go. For this treat, I decided on the Coconut Bliss mint galatica flavor and top it off with almond milk whipped cream. To make the shake, the ice cream was blended with ice, which made it thick and a little icy, but let the chocolate-minty flavor shine through. The sweet and creamy whipped cream elevated the shake to sheer perfection, easily squashing cravings for a mint milkshake that are probably years in the making.
I've said it before but I'll say it again: being gluten and dairy-free is one of the best things that has happened to me. Why? Because my dietary restrictions force me to look beyond chains and find hidden gems like North Market Pop Shop in cities across the nation and around the world. Had I not been searching for safe fare, I would have never known about this extraordinary shop, nor would we have stopped in Frederick at all. Now I need to invent a reason to return to explore more of this historic city and other gluten-free fare on offer!