Granite State of Mind, #10: Lago's Ice Cream, Rye
One of the great things about New Hampshire (and New England in general) is the local ice cream joints. It's something we've never really seen duplicated in MD or WA, where you wind up at Dairy Queen or Baskin-Robbin to satisfy that cold sweet need. Seacoast NH is blessed with no shortage of these hand-scoop, family-owned local treasures, including Memories in Kingston, Twin Lanterns in Kensington, and The Ice House in Rye. Heck, even throw in the UNH Dairy Bar. But my favorite has always been Lago's - by virtue of geography the one on Lafayette Road in Rye, not the original Lone Oak up in Rochester.
Ever since I was a kid, Lago's was a summertime ritual, a twilit homage to creative flavors and huge portions. This is a place that laughs in your face when it comes to sizing (think of Mike Myers' Scottish baker on that old SNL skit - "We've got three sizes - wee, not so wee, and friggin' huge!"). Their kiddie cone is enough for most grown men, though in my younger days I would regard that as something of a challenge - "Yes, I'll take the large. In a shopping cart, with a shovel. Thank you."
I think what makes summertime so special in New Hampshire is how short it is. There are, after all, four seasons back home (leaves, snow, mud, and tourists), and you've got to take full advantage of each of them. Summer in NH means lakes and hikes and overcrowded beaches and ice cream. And when it comes to the ice cream, give me Lago's every time.