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June 4, 2009 at 2:31 PM

I scream about ice cream and (yippee!) frozen custard. You?

If you’re as old as me and my radio-sidekick Dick Stein, you can recall running after the Good Humor man in search of frozen-food-fun — as we discussed this week on KPLU’s Food for Thought. But you may have noticed there’s been a run on high-quality ice creameries and gelaterias in these parts, an explosion of farmers market ice cream carts everywhere and the introduction of frozen custard shops even better than the ones I recall from my youth. That so many of these sweeteries make a point of using local and organic products only adds to their infinite allure.

Speaking of which: I’ve yet to introduce my half-pint to the joys of frozen custard, the legendary stuff of Midwestern childhoods, now available at two Seattle venues — thanks to this week’s debut of Old School Frozen Custard on Capitol Hill. (Show up on Saturday from 3-10 p.m. and they’ll sport you a free cone!) After a trip to Peaks Frozen Custard on Tuesday, I promised to take Nate there first. I consider it payback, seeing as he recently introduced me to this adorable half-pint, Cle Franklin:

Half Pint Homemade Ice Cream’s Cle Franklin scoops ice cream at local farmers markets

Cle — who spent nearly five years working for FareStart before become a professional ice cream maven — told me her favorite flavor is plain chocolate chip, “It’s the only one I’ll eat a whole cup of,” she says. I’m partial to her Earl Grey tea-flavored chocolate, sampled at the Edmonds farmer’s market last Saturday. And I’m sorry to say she’s moving her operation to Bellevue’s new Saturday farmers market, a move certain to leave my son bereft seeing as he’s not only Cle’s biggest fan, but a one-man Half-Pint marketing team — apparent from his homemade signage:

Nate notes: “Best Ice-Cream Come Here!!! (This was not in any way made by the owner)”

Yes, my boy: I know how much you love Cle’s Cookies and Cream, but wait till you get your lips around this:

Quick! Eat it before it melts!

I can’t believe Peaks Frozen Custard has been open since November and I’m only just now getting around to checking the place out. Located across from the Roosevelt Square complex near Whole Foods, it’s one charming little cafe, both inside and out.

There’s real frozen custard inside, and a cone won’t cost your Whole Paycheck

While there, I met owner Tim Wolfe, a Wisconsin expat and all-around incredibly nice guy. Tim missed frozen custard so much he gave up an 18-year career with social services to scale the peaks of retail sales with the help of his family. Here at his mid-life crisis center, they’re selling Lighthouse Roasters’ coffee and devoted to good green living, providing a great stop for the neighborhood (there’s a comfortable fireplace nook and a well-stocked kiddie-corner) as well as some of the best custard I’ve ever eaten. Ask for a taste. There’s always chocolate and vanilla on the menu, but I appreciated the honking-big nuts and mini-marshmallows in my heaping spoonful of Rocky Road — Tuesday’s flavor-of-the-day.

Yon Yonson’s custard-selling ancestor Tim Wolfe, with his sister-in-law Beth Strempler.

And speaking of flavors: has anyone tried the beet sorbet from Empire Ice Cream? Empire moves a lot of ‘scream at the University District Farmers Markets on Saturday and at the Ballard Sunday Farmers Market (where I’ve downed their brown-sugar specialty). I love the idea of savory-flavored frozen treats and can’t wait to try their candied bacon with hazelnuts. Which just happens to be available by the half-pint ($3.98) at Queen Anne’s Eat Local, where other flavors (including fresh mint with Theo Chocolate) are in the freezer-case today. You can also get your Empire fix at Queen Anne’s Paragon Restaurant & Bar, should you be up there knocking back a cold beer or a cosmopolitan. That beet sorbet really has me intrigued. Who knows, I might just have to roast some beets and experiment with my Krups ice cream machine here at home. Given my last experiment with savory ice cream, I’m dying to give it a whirl — so to speak.

Raspberry, strawberry, beet, basil: the opportunities are endless.

When it comes to a multitude of flavors both sweet and savory — and an enormous number of retail and restaurant locations around the Sound — Whidbey Island Ice Cream’s got one heckuva long list, and their product’s available from Bellingham south to Olympia. Owner Mike Rudd had a “herd of dump trucks,” and hauled gold ore for years before “retiring.” These days he and his wife, Mary, are taking the ferry over from Whidbey four days a week come rain or come shine, hauling chocolate-dipped ice cream on a stick to area farmers markets (I love the cardamom!).

Mike and Mary, hauling ice cream in the rain.

Mike and Mary, selling ice cream in the shine.

You’ll find their ice cream in Ballard on Sundays, Wallingford on Wednesdays, Madrona on Fridays and in Edmonds on Saturdays. “At first I hesitated to sell at farmers markets,” says Mike, “but in the last two years, we’ve met so many great people and had so much fun.” And what could be more fun than selling ice cream? Eating it, of course.

Procopio gelato at Royal Grinders in Fremont. Love that tiny “Lenny scoop” on top!

So tell me, where’s your favorite ice cream stop? Have you tried frozen custard yet? Anybody sampled the vegan hemp-milk soft-serve sundaes at Healeo touted today on Daily Candy? It’s ice cream weather out there. What are you waiting for?

Comments | More in Food and Restaurant News | Topics: Stuff I ate

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