At first glance, Summer Freeze, in the Concord village of Penacook, looks like every ice cream stand you’ve ever seen, with a walk-up counter offering cones, sundaes, banana splits. But look closely at the menu and you’ll find some surprises.
The sandwich menu in particular reads like a tour of international food: there are Cubanos, Cajun muffelata grinders, Vietnamese banh mi, and "Fisherville Falafel," after the road on which the stand sits.
“I’ve always been a little exploratory when it comes to eating,” explains Jonathan Lang, the man behind the very eclectic menu here.
Six years ago the Concord native moved back home from New York City, where he’d worked as a cook. When Summer Freeze, which had previously been called Whippy Twist, went up for sale, Lang and his family bought it and added a twist of their own.
"I started looking into all the different types of street food that are around the world," Lang says, "and started to incorporate it into the menu with what we can do here.”
Lang can do a lot in a kitchen, whether it’s here at Summer Freeze or at his off-season job at Pats Peak in Henniker. There was a time two years ago he got up at 5 in the morning to make New Orleans-style beignets. Last year he sold homemade sausages. For a while this summer, he featured cold soups like gazpacho; this week he’s launching a Scottish menu, which includes “Scottish egg rolls, which are haggis and potatoes and neeps, rolled up in an egg roll wrapper and deep fried," he explains.
There's also "Scotch eggs with a homemade lamb sausage wrapped around a soft-boiled egg. We also do the cock-a-leekie grinder, which is a traditional Scottish soup, where I took the broth out and made it into a grinder which is leeks, prunes and chopped chicken, and it’s wonderful.”
Of course, not everyone is looking for haggis-filled egg rolls when they go out for a cone. Lang says ice cream is the stand’s main business. But he adds some customers are happy to find something on the menu that’s a little more adventurous than hot dogs or cheese fries – at least the ones who don’t misunderstand what’s in those menu items.
"At one point I had yakitori on the board, which is a marinated Japanese chicken that I was doing as a sandwich," Lang explains. "I had one lady call up screaming expletives, can’t believing I am cooking yak at this place!”
Jonathan Lang has no plans to add yak to the menu at Summer Freeze – but he says he does plan to offer his customers more culinary adventures in the summers to come. "Food’s one of the few things in life that’s worthwhile," he says. "We need to get out there and explore it a little bit more."
Note: this piece originally misidentified how Summer Freeze changed its name. The story has been updated.