DEVOUR & CONQUER

Exploring, eating and writing about good food on Canada's west coast

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Vancouver Island ice cream with roof-top entertainment

July 14, 2013

When lists of 'what to do' on Vancouver Island pop up, Coombs' Old Country Market almost always gets a mention. And no visit is complete without a stop at the Ice Cream Shoppe and a viewing of the local on-site 'entertainment'.

The town of Coombs is located in Central Vancouver Island on the highway heading to Tofino, which has made it an ideal stop for tourists and vacationers taking trips around the Island. The quality of the market makes it a hit with locals like me too, as they sell imported specialty ingredients from around the world, have an amazing bakery, deli and restaurant. Oh, and there's goats. On the roof. I'll get to that.

Tucked into the edge of the wooden Old Country Market building is their Ice Cream Shoppe, bringing back all my childhood memories of Canadian summertime as the excited shouts of little kids bounce off the vaulted wooden beams. Serving Island Farms ice cream, made with milk produced right here in British Columbia from happy local cows, the portions are huge and the selection is epic.

With 69 different flavours to choose from, it can be a difficult decision to pick what goes in your cone. I'm quite partial to the Sea Salt Caramel, pictured at the top of this post. It's delicately sweet (not cloying), smooth and creamy with a ribbon of sea salt caramel and mini chocolates filled with salted caramel. Their in-house waffle cones come standard (although tradition is also available) and are crisp, fresh and also not over-sweetened so you can actually enjoy the flavour of your ice cream.

Staffed by a friendly group of teens and 20 somethings who handle the huge waves of frozen treat seekers with finesse, the Country Market Ice Cream Shoppe usually has long lines but not long waits. Watching our scooper prepping my husband's massive Royal Purple Cherry & Chocolate Lover's Chocolate double scoop, J turned to me and said "Now that's a man knows how to scoop an ice cream!", nodding to the perfect divot being formed in the chocolate layer in preparation for the cherry ice cream to come.

But what does all of this sweet talk have to do with goats, you wonder? Well, the unofficial nickname of the Old Country Market is 'Goats on the Roof', referring to the grass-covered roof of the market, which does, indeed, have a herd of goats who keep the grass trimmed and pose for thousands of pictures each day, looking down over the visitors who flock here. It's fun, free entertainment to watch while you enjoy your cone and part of the kitschy vibe that makes Coombs special.

 

The Old Country Market Ice Cream Shoppe in Coombs should be a must-stop location on your west coast travels. But be warned, you might find yourself spending the entire afternoon wandering happily through the market and shops lining this Vancouver Island tourist mecca. It's well worth exploring, and a great way to work off all that delicious ice cream you just ate.

To learn more about the Old Country Market and Goats on the Roof, visit their website.

 

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Love Coombs, and that ice cream is fantastic!

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