Vv Magazine’s Vancouver editor Alexandra Gill takes a closer look at the Vancouver soft-serve ice cream trend with the opening of three new shops.
We don’t believe in the whole no-wearing-white-after-Labour-Day rule. And we certainly won’t apply the dated notion to ice cream. Summer may be coming to an end, but you can still make the most of these bittersweet days by licking up the latest food craze – soft-serve ice cream, a hot frozen treat that can be enjoyed all year round.
When Vancouver sinks its teeth into a trend, there’s no holding back. To wit: there are now three soft-serve ice cream joints in Gastown. Yes, three. In Gastown alone.
Partly inspired by New York’s Momofuku Milk Bar, the local trend actually owes more to the Softree Organic Milk & Honey chain chain in Seoul, South Korea.
Softree was the first ice cream parlour in Korea to serve organic soft serve topped with a gooey chunk of fresh honeycomb. The frozen treat became a huge hit, spawning countless knockoffs and a veritable shortage of fresh honeycomb.
When Vancouver’s Soft Peaks opened last January, the shop was crushed with advance hype and lineups down the street. The eager customers, mostly Asian, were dying to try real honeycomb, which the shop ran out of in short order. The owners had to close for two weeks in order to replenish their stock.
The crowds have died down somewhat, but they haven’t disappeared. And now, with two new soft-serve openings, there are more toppings than ever to choose from. Each shop offers its own twist on the creamy trend.
Twisted Ice Cream
It’s not super fancy or artisanal, but the boutique shop sure is cute. Cut into the side of an old brick building, the tiny cubbyhole (from which a previous vendor sold caramel corn for years), measures only 18-square feet, making it the smallest ice cream shop in North America.
Opened as a temporary pop-up earlier this summer, Twisted’s waffle cones have become so popular that the shop’s run has been extended until the end of October (and will be reopened on sunny days throughout the winter).
The vanilla ice cream (made from Calgary’s Foot Hills Creamery milk) isn’t organic, but it is sweeter than the others and more traditional. Drizzles change weekly and come in perfectly automated twirls around each twist. Toppings include everything from standard coconut flakes to chewy Sour Patch Kids. Go for crunchy coffee granules if you’re looking for a late-night buzz. (The shop is open on weekends until midnight.)
Vancouver’s original purveyor of organic soft-serve ice cream puts its emphasis on handcrafted recipes and all-natural ingredients. The ice cream is made with local Avalon organic milk, but that’s not all – the milk powder is also organic and the stabilizer is kosher.
The taste isn’t sweet at all. In fact, it’s quite bland because it has less fat content (about 6 per cent than most ice creams) and is unusually thick. While you wouldn’t want to eat this ice cream on its own, it makes a perfect base for bitter yuzu marmalade and sweet honeycomb toppings. We love the chocolate mudslide with crumbled Tin Tam cookies. The store has also just launched a new line of milkshakes.
UYU Soft Serve Ice Cream
Korean for “milk,” UYU offers a semi-sweet soft-serve ice cream made from President’s Choice organic milk in a cool little shop covered in white-geometric patterned walls that looks like a futuristic cube.
Regular vanilla is always available, but the focus is on the two weekly changing flavours. This week, it was Hong-Kong style milk tea and breakfast cereal. Previous flavours have included Earl Grey, matcha green tea, Belgian chocolate, Vietnamese coffee and salted caramel.
Every ice cream (in cones or cups) comes with complimentary drizzle sauce. Toppings are extra, and they’re worth it. The tasty crumbles include black sesame powder (which packs a curiously peanut-y crunch), honey-roasted sunflower seeds and delightfully aerated freeze-dried fruit. Tip: Go for the freeze-dried orange. The citrus fruit has more water content than the others and comes out really puffy.
Do you have a favourite Vancouver soft-serve ice cream shop ? Let Vv Magazine know in the comments below, or tweet us @ViewtheVibe.