Ice cream is so hot right now. How else to explain the lineups snaking outside Earnest Ice Cream on Fraser Street, or the city’s collective trembling for the forthcoming Yaletown location of Bella Gelateria? In the interim, here are three options for your frozen fix.
Brown Paper trail
Ashley Watson spent eight years making bags from recycled leather, hosting and catering bag parties with her mom. “I started doing ice cream sandwiches,” she says, “And I got really obsessed with ice cream.” That obsession has turned into Brown Paper Packages.
After launching the business last year at Baker’s Market and Hawkers Market, Watson has landed at Pazzo Chow, an Italian eatery located in Chinatown. Watson works with Pazzo Chow’s owner, Maya Sciarretta, to come up with “Italian-inspired flavours…with sort of a Chinatown twist.” Case in point: chocolate Thai basil. Some flavours run more Italian, like a buttery lemon olive oil ice cream. Watson also makes seasonal sorbets, like the delightfully puckery rhubarb sorbet that lets the fruit’s green, apple-y flavours take centre stage.
Pazzo Chow offers Brown Paper Packages’ ice creams by the scoop and by the pint. And, of course, there are the cult-status ice cream sandwiches. Watson especially likes the blueberry billy, featuring blueberry-goat cheese ice cream on a lemony oatmeal cookie. It’s more cheesecakey than goaty, and with B.C. blueberries just around the corner, it’s one to watch for.
Pazzo Chow (620 Quebec St. )
Rainy day people
There’s a purple cow on the wall of Rain or Shine Homemade Ice Cream, bearing a dip-coated waffle cone in the centre of its forehead. Josie Fenton, co-owner of the ice cream shop, calls it her unicow.
Open since November 2013, Fenton and her husband, Blair Casey, have infused that sense of humour throughout the shop — such as the chalkboard menu, which features ten “keepers” and up to five “seasonal flings.” On Tuesdays, you can get an ice cream taco: three small scoops of ice cream in a waffle cone shaped like a taco shell.
“We try and make everything from scratch,” says Fenton, “…our sauces and toppings and our waffle [cone] batter.” And of course, the ice cream, which is Philadelphia-style, made without egg yolks.
“Our dairy is so good in B.C., and [French-style, custard-based ice cream] is heavier and masks the taste. We wanted the whole ingredients to shine through.”
Standouts include the cracked mint — named because of its shards of crackly chocolate, rather than its addictive quality — and London Fog, which is full-flavoured without being too sweet. And because this is Vancouver, there are always a few vegan options, as well as gluten-free cones.
Rain or Shine Homemade Ice Cream (1926 West Fourth Ave.)
Top of the pops
Johnny Wikkerink is 6-foot-9. He’s the founder, chief popsicle maker and pedal power behind Johnny’s Pops, an artisanal popsicle stand run out of a red bicycle cart.
Wikkerink has dabbled in small businesses before but this is his first foray into edibles. “I thought it would be fun to sell delicious things to people, rather than objects,” he says. “I basically, at five in the morning, decided I should sell popsicles. That is my origin story.”
These aren’t your average popsicles. Wikkerink uses local produce wherever possible (berries and apricots from Langley, elderflowers from Agassiz) and freshly squeezed citrus rather than concentrate. The most popular flavour last year was raspberry-lime, and the avocado-lime is a real winner. But there’s a dark horse on the horizon: chocolate-avocado. “Oh my god, chocolate and avocado are amazing together,” he says.
Catch him while you can.
Various locations: check twitter.com/johnnyspops or download the Street Food Vancouver app.