Our trip today brings us east to Stony Brook. The train leaves us with about a mile’s walk into the heart of Stony Brook Village and when we arrive a new world seems to have been opened to us. We have never made it past the Stony Brook campus for some of the many lacrosse games my brother played over the years, but are now drawn into this world of beautiful and quaint shops neatly lined with slate walkways and fall foliage. Scarecrows meet us along the way, which have been uniquely decorated by families and local organizations, culminating in a yearly scarecrow contest. The tradition is inviting and we vote for our favorites in the toy shop on the corner. The village is a breath of fresh air on this gorgeous autumn day and there seems to be no better place to be in this moment.
We come here for ice cream and for a visit to the old Grist Mill in town, which unfortunately for us turns out to be closed. We settle for the picturesque views of the duck pond and are quickly chased away by the incessant honks of the hungry geese, who see their potential food givers, and rush forward. We run away and laugh about it on our walk back into town.
We are recommended Latitude 121 for ice cream, oddly enough, from our dental hygienist, who we have all seen this morning for a cleaning. The restaurant was once home to the Brook House, whose presence in town was a staple for years until the new owners came along. Their commitment to the former identity of the place is evident in their keeping with the old ice cream parlor and retaining the sale of the Gifford’s famous ice cream that has made it well-known as the best ice cream in town. Gifford’s is a five-generation, family run business from Maine whose delight in the simple pleasures of life is extolled through their small batch ice cream resulting in essential goodness in each pint.
We enter and are invited in with the nautical themed decor and a friendly smile from the man behind the counter. I am drawn and intrigued to the Fly Fishing Fudge as its “M&M’s, cookie dough, and chocolate chunks jump in and out of a fudge river flowing through vanilla ice cream”. What is there not to love with this cheeky flavored description? The boys each get Gifford’s rainbow sherbet with colors that remind me more of camoflauge than a rainbow, and I can almost picture the ice cream in the woods of Maine, blending in to its native surroundings.
We retire to the back porch, which overlooks the quiet parking lot and shops around back. It seems me to be the place for some lunch and to greet the many neighbors and friends who pass by. It’s our kind of place.
We dive into our dessert and our palettes are greeted by the heavenly creamy flavor that hits our tongues. Each bite of my own is a pleasant surprise as it is chock full of the candy and chocolate offset by the richness of the vanilla base. The boys are quite pleased with their sherbet and are silent in their pursuit to finish it. As we sit, the late lunch crowd filters in. I am overjoyed to see a steady stream of strollers who park next to their tables. This is exactly how a town favorite should be, and I see that we are not alone in our adoration. The restaurant also has a delicious looking menu and from the faces of those around us, we can see that it is every bit as tasty as it looks. We will have to save it for another visit, as our train time is approaching and a late afternoon nap for the boys is looming.