Sometimes, you get a clunker of a day. It wasn’t for lack of holidays – today was Sandcastle Day, Mead Day, Wiggle Your Toes Day and Mustard Day. But those would all be hard to really enjoy. I couldn’t really envision myself heading to the beach with a pail and plastic shovel and making castles. I’m not even sure if they make Mead anymore, at least not since the Age of Valyria. I did wiggle my toes today, but I don’t think you really want to watch that video. And Mustard is a big NOPE in my book. It could be my least favorite thing in the world. So what to do?
It is National Fresh Breath Day, so that was worth at least honoring. Everyone loves fresh breath. To celebrate, I picked up a couple of bags of Wint-O-Green Lifesavers, which really do leave your breath with a refreshing swirl of mint flavor. I put them in a bowl and I put them out on a table on our curb so any passerby could enjoy. We have a lot of walkers on our street which is one of the nice things I like about our neighborhood. Makes it feel like a community. You see the same faces and although you may not know the names, there’s always pleasant hellos and how-are-yous. It’s nice to see. On Christmas, I set up a pot of hot chocolate and some cookies to share the holiday spirit for anyone walking by that day (I figured there’d be people out playing with their new toys). It would have been a neighborhood smash had it not been 75 degrees that day, so not many takers. Oh well, just being neighborly.
I took everything back inside later in the afternoon as the threat of rain seemed imminent and the bowl was less full then when we started. We had some fresh-breathed takers! Someone even left us a note which was a nice touch (we’re pretty sure it was Jenny from across the street, but we are grateful to whomever it was). Spreading joy – I guess that’s what this is all about.
Today was also Root Beer Float Day and that seemed to be the best thing to really celebrate. I’ve never had a root beer float (or an ice cream soda for that matter). I like soda (although Root Beer is never my first choice). I like ice cream. Just don’t think I needed them in the same container. My Dad liked them if I recall. I can picture him making one on rare occasions. A little treat for himself. But he also used to drink the juice left over in a can of olives, so our tastebuds were never quite on the same page.
My image for a Root Beer Float would be something from another era. I picture a young George Bailey serving them up to Violet and Mary at the counter as Mr. Gower fills the prescriptions in the back room (“It’s poison I tell you Mr. Gower, poison!”) I wanted to order one from a real live soda jerk who wore a smock and a fancy paper hat and I would sit on a stool that spun all the way around and sip away. The person next to me would order a malted and the whole gang would be there too, playing the jukebox and dancing in poodle skirts and varsity sweaters. That’s a Root Beer Float to me.
Lots of places sell Root Beer Floats and in fact, A&W Root Beer Restaurants were offering free ones after 2 PM today! The closest A&W is in Smithfield which was way too far to travel for this, especially if it was going to be a madhouse of people flocking there for the freebie. Besides, I really wanted the counter experience and the only place I could think of that makes a Root Beer Float and has a counter was the Newport Creamery.
I’ve never eaten at the Newport Creamery. I’ve gotten a few Awful Awfuls at the pick up window, but have never gone inside. Lola is not a fan and I don’t blame her as she used to work there for a brief moment in time after high school and tells some truly awful, awful stories about sexual harassment. I still cringe every time I hear the stories. Beyond that, she’s not much of a fan of that kind of restaurant – she hates Friendly’s with a passion too. So we don’t go to those places and that’s ok. But since I picked Newport Creamery as the place to celebrate, I’d be going solo. That would just add to the counter experience.
I put a quick note out to Facebook to see how they would describe the Newport Creamery and was expecting it to be pretty bad. To my surprise though, the comments were mostly positive. It brings pleasant memories to most people and of course everyone loves the Awful Awful. I got some good recommendations ( Patty Melt, Creamery Style Hotdog, the Jimmy Roll) and even found out it brought back a nice childhood memory for my cousin, it was Laura’s aunt’s favorite place and it was an after-hours hangout for a Salve Regina grad. You never know what restaurants hold good memories for good people. I guess the lesson is don’t judge.
The place was clean, so I had to give them props for that. I was expecting it not to be, but even the Stainless Steel behind the line was shiny. I walked in and headed towards the counter area which was pretty much open except for a little old lady on the other side. The server came over right away and I ordered up the Root Beer Float. It was quickly evident that this was not the Pop Tate’s Chok’lit Shoppe in Riverdale that I had envisioned. This was the Newport Creamery. There was no Soda Jerk, no ropes of licorice for sale at the counter, no jukebox and no varsity sweaters. Just an old lady across the way asking for her senior discount and a manager in black shoes, white socks and high-water black pants running around.
Service was fine and fast. I ordered a Patty Melt too and that came out fast and cooked perfectly. It was good. I guess you could say the place just lacked atmosphere although granted my expectations were set too high. I will say that I could feel tension between the line cooks and the servers (after 25 years in the restaurant industry, you pick up on these things) and that contributed to the lack of atmosphere, especially after feeling the positive energy the other night at the Matunuck Oyster Bar. Did I just compare the Newport Creamery to the Matunuck Oyster Bar?
I was here for the Root Beer Float and surprisingly, it was pretty good. It was served in the glass I was expecting. The classic soda fountain glass with a stemmed base. You could see a scoop of ice cream in the middle of the glass and the froth of the root beer was floating around it. A little glass of extra root beer came on the side too so I could add more liquid as I went along. My first dilemma was how to eat it. I was given two implements: a straw and a sundae spoon. I started with the spoon and took a bite of the ice cream but then switched to the straw so I could get the liquid. That seemed like the best plan of action, although I would occasionally stir it up with the spoon. It’s an interesting flavor combination – the ice cream kind of mellows the carbonation of the root beer and takes on a creamy flavor. It was good. I could understand the allure.
All in all, I found out that I like them. I’m not sure if I would order one again, but if one presented itself (like one did a few weeks ago at a fabulous wedding we were at where mini floats were brought out as a late night treat which we sadly declined – oh how I wished we had one), I would definitely not pass them up. I get it now, but I still wish I could enjoy one with George Bailey, Hee Haw!
Oh, and I brought Lola home an Awful Awful too. She was pleased (and not sexually harassed).
But wait – word is spreading! My sister just sent me this photo of her celebrating Root Beer Float Day with her neighbors. Apparently they didn’t know what goes in the glass first – Ice Cream or Root Beer, but they pulled it off and are joining the celebration. My guess would be Ice Cream first then Root Beer because you can control the froth better. It’s fun seeing this spread. The more the merrier!
Tomorrow: Raspberries and Cream Day