Ice Cream Lover? Welcome to Eden

It was a hot, sultry day in Cambridge. Our trek would take us from Bow Street to Porter Square and back to the Kennedy School.

Our mission: to find the perfect scoop of ice cream.

Our conclusion: no ice cream is perfect. But the Square and surroundings have a lot that come pretty darn close.

We noticed a significant difference in taste, texture and creaminess between homemade and mass-produced ice creams. But other than that, it was difficult to rank the different scoops we sampled from the seven sinful sweet shops on our tour.

Maybe we're just a little too fond of ice cream. But we have passed the decisions along to you. You've got three months of summer to do what we did in two hours. Experiment and enjoy.

In alphabetical order, here are the places we visited. At each stop, we asked for samples of the two most popular flavors.

31 Flavors: Keep on Counting

As everyone knows, Baskin Robbins has a rotating flavor of the month, often seasonal or topical.

Our friendly 31 flavors server gave us the current and one former flavor of the month to try.

June's featured flavor was Reese's Peanut Butter Cup ice cream. And, yes, it really does taste like the candy you get in the shiny orange wrapper from a vending machine. The chunks of peanut butter and chocolate in the vanilla ice cream were tasty, but often difficult to chew because they were large and frozen solid. The Reese's Peanut Butter Cup was probably the sweetest ice cream we tried.

We couldn't really figure out what relation Baseball Nut has to America's Pastime. And we don't think it's being served at Fenway these days. But the flavor, with cashews and a raspberry ribbon in vanilla ice cream, was featured at the opening of the baseball season. The cashews were few and far between, but the raspberry swirl made the ice cream seem like a light sorbet. Although Baseball Nut had the same vanilla ice cream as the Reese's, it was significantly lighter and less sweet.

The ice cream at Baskin Robbins is thinner than the homemade variety at some of the other stores. But the great advantage of Baskin Robbins is its predictability. From Southern California to Northern Maine, you know what you're going to get from the 31 flavors. And you know your favorite flavor's always going to be there waiting.

The servings at Baskin Robbins are some of the most generous. And at $1.75 a scoop, the price is at the low end of the scale.

Without a doubt, Baskin Robbins is an appealing option for a hungry summer school student studying at Lamont and seeking a quick ice cream fix.

Baskin Robbins is located at 1230 Mass Ave. at the intersection of Mass Ave. and Bow Street.