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York Castle, Now Open in Rockville


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#1 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 07:56 PM

Not only is York Castle serving Caribbean food, it may be undergoing a name change to "Tropical Ice" in the next few months (*). The person I talked with implied that it would be more of a slow phase-in, rather than an overnight change. Same ownership, same product, but with expanded savory items (my impression is that they're just dabbling in savories right now, which is why I don't want to be too harsh in the next paragraph).

The story is more complicated than that, apparently. Somebody alert Joe H! And we may need a thread split.

Original owner Calver Headley has just reopened York Castle in Rockville, in the former Kohr Bros Custard stand on 355 north of town center (827 Hungerford Dr., in the building between Caribbean Feast and Cameron's Seafood), taking with him the original recipes and methods. He's in litigation against Caroline Tay over the original Silver Spring location, and expects a resolution in the next few months. Cal also says that she's now using her own ice cream recipe in Silver Spring - unrelated to the Gifford's recipes - and has been for the past two years or so.

York Castle had a test opening over Labor Day weekend, and began regular hours last weekend. Not all of the flavors have been run yet, but most of them are in his freezers now, and I can happily report that they're as deadly buttery as ever. Try the black walnut. Sadly, they had just run out of the legendary peach.

(On a related note: WaPo's story last year about Andrew Gifford, in which the Gifford's story is retold. And even more fascinating, Andrew's own story of the recipe's convoluted path.)

Dave Hsu
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#2 Xochitl10

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Posted 18 September 2009 - 08:28 PM

Original owner Calver Headley has just reopened York Castle in Rockville, in the former Kohr Bros Custard stand on 355 north of town center (827 Hungerford Dr., in the building between Caribbean Feast and Cameron's Seafood), taking with him the original recipes and methods. He's in litigation against Caroline Tay over the original Silver Spring location, and expects a resolution in the next few months. Cal also says that she's now using her own ice cream recipe in Silver Spring - unrelated to the Gifford's recipes - and has been for the past two years or so.

Interesting. Azami and I went to the Silver Spring location a couple of weeks ago and each got a scoop of ginger. We noticed immediately that it was sweeter and not as fiery gingery as it was before we went to Japan, which was a little over two years ago. We thought our tastes might have changed, but Dave's explanation makes a whole lot of sense. Maybe we need to go to Rockville tomorrow for research purposes. . .

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#3 Joe H

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Posted 19 September 2009 - 01:08 PM

York Castle IS the original Gifford's.

Thanks ol'ironstomach!

I must add because for almost ten years I've posted on here and Chowhound the "heritage" of York Castle. I've also maintained that the "new" Gifford's was NOT the same ice cream.

I'll be on Hungerford drive tomorrow!
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Posted 18 August 2006 - 10:51 PM

DCJono, on Aug 18 2006, 01:37 PM, said:

There was a very supportive article in the Post's Food section a few weeks ago:
[dead link]

Scott, the very end of the article states that they are trying to bring the molds back.

"...this is NOT the same Gifford's as that which closed in the early '80's. They bought the name out of bankruptcy-nothing else. The base is different, a number of the flavors are different. (i.e. oreo at the original Gifford's had many more crushed Oreo cookies in it; cookie dough was not a flavor, etc.) The man who made the ice cream for Gifford's in their Silver Spring plant for over ten years opened his own shop several weeks after the last Gifford's closed. But he didn't own the name, just the knowledge and recipe for their ice cream. He added some new flavors to suppliment the existing ones but also continued to make the exact same Swiss Chocolate, made sodas with a scoop of whipped cream and soda water-he just couldn't use their name.

He's still around: York Castle. The only one I've been to is the one in Montgomery Hills and the last time was two years ago. From the '50's to the early '80's I may have been Gifford's best customer! York Castle-unless it has changed in the last two years-has the original Gifford's ice cream."

#4 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 04:24 PM

Ask Cal for a taste of the "extra dark chocolate" next time you're in; it's something he's been playing with. It looks deceptively pale, like the regular Swiss chocolate, but the flavor is more intense and kicked up with a bit of spice for good measure.

Also worth noting - while he insists on whipping fresh cream for the sundaes during the summertime, it's out of a can during the off-season. Must be a demand thing.

Dave Hsu
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#5 Joe H

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Posted 26 October 2009 - 06:45 PM

The canned whipped cream is worth noting...

#6 SVT

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 09:22 AM

We stopped in yesterday for the first time and loved, really loved, the ice creams that we had. The owner (I think), gave us a bunch of tastes to try, asked us how we found out about the shop, and really had a lot of confidence in his product. The passion fruit ice cream was really delicious, very creamy, very satisfying. The Swiss chocolate was a milk-chocolate ice cream and was also very good. These ice creams stand up very well to those we've had elsewhere (while not as avant-garde, I think that York Castle is making ice cream as good as Jeni's in Columbus; while not as intense, these are easily as good as any gelato we've had in the area).

Now we have to go back for the soursop and mamey-sapote flavors...

#7 smokey

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Posted 02 November 2009 - 02:09 PM

Wow, this is exciting news. I drove by the 355 location a few days ago and wondered what was up, but wasn't feeling very optimistic (my assumption was that it was a move towards a mini-chain and blandification/standardization of recipes in such a way that removed all flavor). Must go do some research...

#8 porcupine

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Posted 13 November 2009 - 11:51 AM

Current special flavor is pumpkin pecan. Next up is eggnog, with a promise that it'll be spicy.

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#9 smokey

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 02:02 PM

The banana is fantastic (tastes like it really contains banana, what a novelty!). Brought home a pint and enjoyed it with homemade caramel sauce. Tried some ginger at the store and loved it. Sure wish York had moved into town center instead of giffords...

#10 SVT

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Posted 28 November 2009 - 11:23 PM

Current special flavor is pumpkin pecan. Next up is eggnog, with a promise that it'll be spicy.

When we were there last week, a relative of the owner's from Jamaica was there, and the owner told us that she had brought some rum from Jamaica that he would be using in the eggnog. Can't wait to try it as soon as I can get up there.

#11 Rhone1998

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 09:45 AM

My mom wants to know if they carry Gifford's hot fudge sauce.

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#12 comestibles

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Posted 29 November 2009 - 07:26 PM

Current special flavor is pumpkin pecan. Next up is eggnog, with a promise that it'll be spicy.

Eggnog is out. I don't know about spicy, but it's very, very rummy. Only a few more weeks for the pumpkin pecan.

#13 smokey

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 08:25 PM

They've been closed due to snowstorms and surgery (nothing emergent) on owner, but they're open again and ice cream is, as always, fantastic. Sadly, no banana last night so I had to suffer through the ginger ice cream. Woe is me.

Go often, it's worth it. I'm not a mango fan, but all who have had it have raved about it. And, when we asked the owner last night (whose name I always fail to catch), he admitted it was his favorite.

#14 Sthitch

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Posted 28 February 2010 - 11:24 PM

Sadly, no banana last night so ...

Or is that Yes! We Have No Bananas?

#15 SVT

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Posted 01 March 2010 - 11:22 AM

They've been closed due to snowstorms and surgery (nothing emergent) on owner, but they're open again and ice cream is, as always, fantastic. Sadly, no banana last night so I had to suffer through the ginger ice cream. Woe is me.

Go often, it's worth it. I'm not a mango fan, but all who have had it have raved about it. And, when we asked the owner last night (whose name I always fail to catch), he admitted it was his favorite.

We hit it up on Saturday for a lychee (mild, lightly sweet) and an oreo (indulgent, awesome). Happy to see that they are back open--the owner told us that banana would be back when the bananas would ripen more readily (warmer weather).

#16 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 12 March 2010 - 07:00 PM

He ran the batch of banana a couple of days after that post. But the hot ticket this week IMHO is the soursop. It's always been one of my favorites, but the current batch is exceptionally aromatic.

Dave Hsu
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#17 SVT

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Posted 16 April 2010 - 10:18 AM

Given the interesting flavors up on the board, the orange-pineapple always seemed pedestrian, and I'd never had it. But wow, it's really good.

I think that the owner mentioned a jackfruit ice cream would be coming along as a flavor of the month in early summer.

#18 Xochitl10

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Posted 09 May 2010 - 09:24 AM

Given the interesting flavors up on the board, the orange-pineapple always seemed pedestrian, and I'd never had it. But wow, it's really good.

Similarly, I always feel silly coming here and ordering the Oreo ice cream, but it's so honking good. It's so creamy and Oreo-y. Azami had the ginger ice cream last night, and while it was not as sharp as we remember it, it was less sweet and had more of that ginger spiciness than the stuff we had at Georgia Avenue last summer. I wish they would trade locations. :lol:

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#19 ol_ironstomach

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Posted 10 November 2010 - 04:48 PM

Paging Scott Johnston, paging Scott Johnston...

...are these what you were looking for? York-logph_sm.jpg York-pumpkin_sm.jpg

Obviously the photo on the left is of a photo. Apparently there's been a flurry of recent requests, so Cal started making them again last week so he'd have some inventory going into the holidays. Presliced into 8 pieces, price TBD but likely in the $18 range.

Dave Hsu
--------"Cuisine represents a knife edge that separates attractive stimulation from death."--- Art Ayers


#20 DC Deb

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Posted 13 November 2010 - 03:12 PM

I was there a couple of weeks ago and had the pumpkin pecan. Yum! Hurry and get some since it's a seasonal flavor.

#21 goodeats

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Posted 06 January 2011 - 07:42 PM

Cal is such a strong trooper and a helpful accommodater. I couldn't decide between the Guinness, Ginger and Swiss Chocolate flavors, so, he packed all 3 for me in a pint! Talk about personalization!! Please send good thoughts his way as he lost a close family member in December. Based on the little chat we had tonight, I get this strong sense of survivor emitted. The ginger is sooo good, especially on a day when one's feeling under the weather.

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#22 Scott Johnston

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Posted 02 September 2011 - 05:50 PM

Damm, I missed this post and just discovered York Castle last weekend. Cal showed me the molds and I thought I had "the scoop" (pun intended). This stuff is great!!! Who has better ice cream in the area? York must be in the top 5%!

Paging Scott Johnston, paging Scott Johnston...

...are these what you were looking for? York-logph_sm.jpg York-pumpkin_sm.jpg

Obviously the photo on the left is of a photo. Apparently there's been a flurry of recent requests, so Cal started making them again last week so he'd have some inventory going into the holidays. Presliced into 8 pieces, price TBD but likely in the $18 range.


No more wafer thin mints for me!!!!


#23 Lydia R

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Posted 25 May 2012 - 04:26 PM

In honor of the start of Memorial Day Weekend, here's a link to Tim Carman's May 15th column profiling Jamaican ice cream and highlighting York Castle.

Headley, 61, originally from Mandeville, Jamaica, moved to the Washington area in the early 1970s to attend what was then called Columbia Union College in Takoma Park (now Washington Adventist University) to study accounting. Headley got his degree, but he also got an education at the original Gifford’s Ice Cream in Silver Spring, long before it devolved into bankruptcy. Headley learned how to make ice cream from Gifford’s veteran employees who had committed the recipes to memory, not paper.

The York Castle owner won’t come right out and say that his ice cream is based on Gifford’s recipes, but he hints broadly. “People who know it,” Headley says, “know right away what it is.”


:rolleyes:


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#24 bookluvingbabe

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Posted 26 May 2012 - 03:31 PM

We stopped in recently and the little guy tried the strawberry. He thought it was wonderful. I had the mango and I thoughit was very good but too sweet. Defintely looking forward to more summer visits.




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