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COLD TREATS: Ice cream company focuses on local ingredients

Jul 13th, 2010 | Category: Features, Food

Photo by Marty Watson/ELEMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHY

by Brent Cole

As summer is upon us, cold treats are a must on a hot day. One of Whatcom County’s favorite spots to cool down is Mallard Ice Cream in Bellingham, a shop known for its fresh and local ingredients. Having made over 500 different flavors over the last nine years, Mallard will sell between 300-400 gallons of ice cream per week in the summer.
Owner Ben Scholtz initially began working at Mallard in 1999 when he was hired as a bookkeeper to help out then owner Mike Post Van De Berg. Having grown up in Bellingham, Ben went to college at Evergreen and then worked at non-profits in Seattle doing arts administration. At a crossroads in his life, Ben realized he wanted to move back to a smaller city and eventually work for himself.
Formerly located on Holly Street, Mike sold Mallard to Ben in September of 2001 where it was reopened in December. In 2005, Ben moved the shop to a larger location on Railroad Avenue.
Before working at Mallard, Ben had no background in ice cream, but did have a love of food and cooking. “I was able to adapt my knowledge to ice cream,” stated Ben, adding, “At the same I did absorb a lot of the basics from him.”
Now able to work in a creative environment and as his own boss, Ben set out to create a unique ice cream experience, one that involved fresh ingredients, primarily from local farmers.
Spending approximately 70 percent of his ingredients budget directly with farmers, Ben uses local foods whenever possible – approximately 5,000 pounds of local organic fruit each year. Mallard works with several different local farms, including getting most of their berries from Alm Hill Farm and Growing Washington, strawberries from Frog Song Farm, mint and basic from Growing Garden, and rhubarb from D and V Farm. Ben goes to Cloud Mountain Farm for his unique fruit flavors. “Every year the goal is eight flavors of distinctive fruits from their farm.”
In the past, Ben has used hardy kiwis, grapes, seabuckthorn berry, cornelian cherry, and aronia berry, for example. “They have a wide variety of fruits,” he said with sense of excitement.
Once Ben determines the fruit is edible and tasty, he works on the recipe. But in creating the ice cream, Ben and staff need to figure out how to process the fruit. “Sometimes the puzzle isn’t the recipe – it’s how do we process these fruits.”
Ben isn’t the only person at Mallard to work with Cloud Mountain; he gets the entire staff involved. “Every summer, we take groups of staff and take them out to the farm. They get a tour of the farm and they get to pick fruit. Employees can then say to a customer, ‘I picked the fruit.’ It makes the employees really proud of it and the customers really surprised.” He added, “It’s another level of connection between the source of the food – that farm to table quality.”
Ben greatly appreciates his working relationship with Cloud Mountain. “They’ve been really generous with their time.”
That level of involvement, from the farmer to the restaurant has been a winning combination for Mallard. “The customers do know the general idea that we’re sourcing good ingredients and that they can trust us.”
Mallard Ice Cream is open daily at 1323 Railroad Avenue in Bellingham. Call (360) 734-3884 or visit www.mallardicecream.com.

Around our NW Corner: Ice Cream, Popsicles and Gelato

Cascadian Farm: 55749 Highway 20, Rockport (between Rockport and Marblemount), (360) 853-8173, meyer@cfarm.com. The original Cascadian Farm roadside stand is open daily for the summer season, offering homemade ice cream and smoothies using local, organic ingredients, as well as the staple fruits, vegetables, jellies, granola and more. Flavors include chocolate, vanilla, blackberry, blueberry,  raspberry chocolate chip and others. Founded by Gene Kahn, the farm is operated by Jim and Harlyn Meyer.

Lopez Island Creamery: (360) 299-8200, lopezislandcreamery.com. Started on Lopez Island in the 1990s, the company  creates more than 30 regular and custom flavors of gourmet ice cream. Flavors include the traditional chocolate and vanilla, cookies and cream, strawberry, as well as the San Juan toffee, lemon raspberry swirl, wild blackberry and seasonal flavors such as positively pumpkin and egg nog. Another favorite is the lavender vanilla and lavender chocolate, available at Pelindaba Lavender Farm and downtown locations on San Juan Island. The company uses cream from Pacific Northwest dairies as well as berries from the Skagit Valley.  Ingredients are all natural and hormone free. The company’s production facility was recently relocated to Anacortes. Ice cream can be found on Lopez, San Juan and Orcas Islands, as well as in Bellingham at natural food stores and in Mount Vernon, La Conner, the Seattle area and south. Residents Jan and Jim Bruce purchased the company in 2004.

Little Shovels Popsicles: 202 E. Holly Street #116, Bellingham, (360) 333-8689. Operated by Colette McNabb, this Bellingham popsicle company offers frozen treats at the Bellingham and Fairhaven Farmers Market, as well as from their location on E. Holly Steet in Bellingham. The main ingredients for the popsicles come from vendors at the farmers market and local organic grocery stores. The popsicles cost $2 each and are made with juice, others made with cream. Flavors include fruit medley, strawberry, blueberry, watermelon, lime, chocolate and orange cream.

Silver Springs Creamery: 256 E. Hemmi Road, Lynden, (360) 820-1384, silverspringscreamery.com. Operated by Eric Sundstrom, Silver Springs is a small family-owned and run farm outside of Lynden. The milk from the small herd of Jersey cows and LaMancha goats – grazing on pesticide free  pastures – is used to make the ice cream, sorbet, frozen yogurt and other products on site. Ice cream flavors include the traditional chocolate and vanilla, as well as pumpkin, blueberry, coconut, orange sorbet and others. Available by the pint. Ingredients are sourced from the farm, local businesses and/or farms, when available.

Chocolate Necessities:
1426 Cornwall Avenue, Bellingham, (360) 733-6666, chocolatenecessities.com. Owner Kevin G. Buck has been operating this chocolate company in Bellingham for over 20 years, now operating from a new larger location on Cornwall Ave. The shop makes gelato and sorbettos (dairy free) on site. Gelato, the Italian version of ice cream, is made with less butterfat and creamier than standard ice cream. Flavors include various chocolates, coconut, vanilla, coffee, mascarpone, mint chip and others. Also offered is a Juicagato, a non-dairy sorbetto with squeezed oranges poured over it.
—Becca Schwarz Cole

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