I heard buzzing about Nicecream Factory on Twitter. Ice cream made while you wait, liquid nitrogen style? Awesome! Then I read the article on Best Bites Blog and knew that I had to check it out on my Friday off from work. I e-mailed the owners and told them about the blog and that I wanted to come in, check it out, and write it up. Sandra, one of the two co-owners wrote back and was as friendly as could be. Sold.
So, I headed over to Clarendon, had some lunch at Pete’s Apizza, and headed just a block south to Nicecream Factory. Sandra wasn’t there, but her business partner, Gil, was. I introduced myself to him and we chatted. He told me about how he and Sandra heard about making ice cream with liquid nitrogen and played around with it at home. When they looked into how to make ice cream, apparently it often starts with a paste. So they ordered the paste and were grossed out. Instead they opted to go all natural, with local cream and other local ingredients. They started selling at Farmer’s Markets about a year ago and then decided to take it brick and mortar.
I had a hard time deciding which flavor I wanted, but I decided on Chocolate Sea Salt. Gil told me about how Sandra is the sweets person and that he is a more savory guy, so they have plenty of sweet and savory flavors in their rotation. Besides Chocolate Sea Salt, they also have caramel pretzel and chocolate bacon. (Can’t wait to try those!) He walked me through the process while he made my ice cream. They make the favors with only fresh ingredients. The ice cream is made instantly before they hand it to you, so there’s no need to add preservatives. They throw the flavor and cream (and a little bit of milk) into the mixer bowl and mix until just combined.
And then the fun part! They add the liquid nitrogen and let it go about about 60 seconds until it’s ice cream. This is awesome to watch. As soon as the liquid nitrogen is poured in, there’s a giant cold cloud of steam? that floats out. Like a witch’s cauldron.
Since there’s minimal churning between liquid stage and ice cream stage, there’s not a lot of air in the ice cream, so like gelato, it’s very dense and rich.
Gil handed me the ice cream and since there was no one else in the shop, he sat down with me to chat some more. The ice cream was decadent, almost like fudge. With just a tiny hint of salt to cut the sweetness. It was perfect. I asked him about their soft opening week and what kind of turnout they had been having. It sounded like they had been getting good foot traffic and lots of exposure from the recent articles. He told me about how when they were just doing pop-ups, they’d order 20 gallons of cream for a weekend but for their Grand Opening, they ordered 101. I have a feeling with that location and the upcoming summer, they’re going to be needing way more than that.
I let Gil get back to work prepping for their Grand Opening and told him I’d be back later in the weekend with the lady so she could give it a try as well. I had planned to pop in for the Grand Opening, but instead, the lady and I went back for dessert that same evening. She ordered the pistachio- which is made with pistachio butter(!).
Yum! I feel sort of bad because I ate about half of the lady’s ice cream. I just couldn’t help myself! It was SO GOOD. We’ll definitely be back to try more.
Beyond just enjoying putting tasty things into my face, and loving supporting local business, I’m discovering that I also really like supporting places run by friendly people. It’s fun to connect with the people who are coming up with and executing such awesome ideas and learning more about the businesses. That’s definitely been one unexpected perk of writing this blog.
- Favorite flavor I had: The chocolate sea salt was decadent and almost like fudge, but I think her pistachio was a little better.
- Most interesting thing I want to try next time: The strawberry basil sounded excellent. It also sounds like they’re going to have some nice sweet/savory flavors in their rotation.
- What makes this place stand out: As far as I know, it’s the first liquid nitrogen ice cream place in the area! And I’m pretty sure that it’s going to become the next froyo/cupcake/donut.
- How soon I’d go back (tomorrow/next week/next month/special occasions): I have a feeling we’re going to end up there on the regular. I might use that as an excuse to start exploring Clarendon for the blog.
- Places to go afterward (what’s nearby): Anywhere in Clarendon. You could hit dinner at Pete’s Apizza, Cava Mezze, or Fuego, and then get ice cream for dessert!