31 Days, 90 Flavors, and 27 Washington Creameries: My National Ice Cream Month Round Up
One Sunday morning last month, I was in a local ice cream shop. A family of four walked in. The youngest, a boy about 3 or 4 years old, walked confidently to the counter then turned to the adults.
He made it three syllables and hopped on each one. His brows arched his eyes to their max diameter as he took a deep breath. “I’m gonna get CHOCOWIT!”
That right there — that feeling that you’re about to get something so delightful it makes you talk with your whole body — that is how I feel about ice cream. I’m not a gourmand or a connoisseur. I just like ice cream.
National Ice Cream Month
I aimed for a new ice cream thing every day. Flavor, shop, treat, whatever. I wasn’t picky about it. I kept a daily log of my visits, all archived on my personal site.
It’s not necessary to dress the part for National Ice Cream, but, well, it helps. When you walk into a shop with your hair in an ice-cream-cone-shaped bun, they know you’re not messing around. You might get to spend a couple hours sampling every flavor in the case. Hypothetically.
I made the shirt at my friend Anne’s house. When we met up for an ice cream outing on the last day, I asked her to use my file and make a matching shirt. We CHOCOWIT!-ed hard that day.
The necklace is my homage to Wonder Woman:
We All Scream for Ice Cream
As soon as I shared about Day 1, I got recommendations for shops I never heard of. Day 2, more recommendations. On Day 3, my dad sent this text:
By month’s end, I was regularly getting photos with messages like “thinking of you” and “have you tried this?”
Sandy ran into my husband, Tom, at work one day. She gave him an ice cream cup and sent me the photo. “Better step up your ice cream game!” While dining at Persepolis Grill, Christine stopped to show me her dessert, an exquisite-looking bastani akbar mashti.
My mom started rating ice creams based on my photos: “I want that” v. “I don’t want that.” My stepmom reported going out for ice cream after seeing my posts. My aunts sent me articles about the history of ice cream.
With this kind of pressure (I kid, I kid), I found and bookmarked the Eater Seattle list of ice cream shops (kudos and thanks to writers Julia Wayne and Adam Callaghan for compiling and updating it). Friends started inviting me on ice cream dates. I started a list. By Week Three, I realized there’s more than enough local ice cream: I could try a new. shop. every. day. In the end, I only tasted one ice cream produced outside Washington state.
Forget Coffee. Ice Cream Is Our Life Now.
This map shows only the shops I visited, not the few that are store- or wholesale only. And I keep learning about more. National Ice Cream Month 2018 is going to be epic.
By the Numbers
- 90+ flavors tasted (link is to a Google Sheet with flavor:creamery)
- 29 outings
- 27 local creameries sampled (link is to Google Sheet with details on creameries sampled)
- 0 Rocky Road 😔 (Poor Rocky Road! I have no idea how that happened.)
- 7 shops un-visited. Seven! And counting! CHOCOWIT!
You think you’re going to trick me into naming a favorite? Forget it. I’m not an animal! But here’s a few highlights.
Best Mint Chocolate Chip
Ice cream is one of my favorite foods, obvs. But I have a separate entry for mint chocolate chip ice cream. Two mints wowed me:
Mint Fudge and Chocolate Ribbon at Cupcake Royale. “A good take on mint chocolate chip, perfect if you don’t want crunchy bits.”
Fresh Mint at Ice Cream Social. “Won my heart because it instantly evoked the mint my grandfather grew in his yard. Perfectly creamy and slightly savory.”
I asked twice and then I finally said in my best PA accent, “are you saying ‘STREET? CORN?’”
This ice cream is the most interesting thing I’ve put in my mouth since Mooseballs™.
I’ve never had such a good pistachio anything, and I’m including actual pistachios in that.
“What you’d imagine if you were eating a perfectly soft cookie and thought, ‘this would be good as ice cream.’”
So many friends and family joined in the fun online and in person. When we broke out the pints at a party, Mary Kaye explained, “We have to, Allison’s doing National Ice Cream Month.” At Parfait in Ballard, Jenna said, “Well, she has to sample. She’s doing Ice Cream Month.” I’m especially proud of this comment from “I’m-not-really-an-ice-cream-person” Megan:
“You keep posting things that make me rethink how I feel about ice cream.”
Dear Ice Cream Illuminati: You’re welcome.
Most Beautiful Scoops
Ice cream is gorgeous any way you serve it, amiright? These scoopers presented the prettiest, scoopiest scoops. Shout out to the sugar cone pedestals for these edible sculptures.
Top 3 Shop Visits
The common thread in these places is the staff people. These shops have friendly folks behind their counters, all ready to give you the most CHOCOWIT! experience possible. They’re knowledgeable about the flavors and ingredients. They recommend flavors. They make you feel like the line behind you isn’t there. And they are excited to share their ice cream with you. Many of the places I visited had some of these elements, but these few went above and beyond, listed here in order of visit:
Ice Cream Social in Tacoma
I noticed a fun vibe as soon as we entered the store. They decor and retail items are all centered on ice cream or Tacoma, there’s ample seating to enjoy inside. Plus great ice cream and friendly staff.
Sweet Alchemy in Seattle’s U District
This is a tough location. It’s small and it’s on The Ave right near campus. But the staff were amazing, very friendly, and were plain joyful about their ice cream.
Snoqualmie Ice Creamery in Maltby
Kaden made my day by letting me sample to heart’s content. I went with my friend Anne and we told him about this being the last day of my ice cream month adventure. So even though they didn’t have a sample board, he let me taste flavors in between other customers. He shared his favorite flavors, told us why, and explained the different formulations (custard, gelato, ice cream, etc). No question stumped him: “What’s ice cream base?” “What three flavors would be the ultimate combo?” “Where’s the bathroom?”
I only had three sundaes all month (Shug’s, Dick’s, and Molly Moon’s). This section is really an excuse to talk about Molly Moon’s whipped cream. It looks and tastes hand whipped. Well done, ice cream chef and your android-level whisk skills.
The Never-Ending Ice Cream Story
I had a lot of fun sharing. Next year, I’ll plan the month to include road trips to more locations in Western Washington. A small endeavor compared to the magical ice cream unicorns behind the account Ice Cream Trek. They’re touring local ice cream shops the U.S. and Canada this summer. CHOCOWIT!
Have a place you want to share?
I am always up for an ice cream adventure! I’ll be doing research between now and next year’s National Ice Cream Month. If you have a shop you’d like to share, please send me the info in this form.