I first had a taste of the ice creams of The Creamery at a recent food market at The Baxter, meeting owner Kate Schrire and her manager Marianne Visser, both passionate advocates for their products.  Yesterday I went to visit them at their offices and kitchen in Mowbray, to get to know more about how they operate and to taste their lovely creamy ice creams. Given their business principles and ethics, they are sure to cream it as they grow.

Kate started The Creamery two months ago, being an ice cream lover, and having made her own ice cream at home, which her friends raved about when they tasted it.  Born in the UK, she has lived in this country for twenty years, and trained at the SA Chef’s Academy with Garth Stroebel. She spent four years in the USA, and worked for Alice Waters, a food activist, who created events to educate the public about how food works.  In Cape Town she joined Slow Food Cape Town and the Mother City branches, and serves on the committee of the latter.  She was a freelance journalist for Mail & Guardian and The Weekender, writing about indigenous foods, but felt that she would rather like to be hands on with food, and joined the Sustainability Institute outside Stellenbosch, connecting people to food suppliers.  Marianne worked for a film production company, and loves baking and cooking.  She said her new job ‘doesn’t feel like work’.

Kate wants to feel ‘ethically comfortable’ with what she eats and produces, and therefore decided to source her products from small family businesses in the Western Cape, for her high quality hand-made ice cream. The milk comes from the Kotze family’s Langrietvlei farm near Hopefield, previously supplying Parmalat, but they are one of many farmers who had their contracts cut by this milk product producer.  Reuben Kotze has started marketing his own maas, milk, and drinking yoghurt on the West Coast, and brings these products to The Creamery.  His mother is a honey producer, having supplied Pick ‘n Pay for 28 years already. Eggs come from Homegrown Eggs; chocolate from Cocoa Fair and coffee from Rosetta Roastery, both at the Old Biscuit Mill; Nowo Organics supplies unsprayed strawberries, melons, and chocolate mint; and Kleinjongenskraal supplies citrus, stone fruit and blackberries.  One of their new creations is a beer ice cream, using Darling Brew.  Mixing cream, milk, sugar and eggs they make a custard, to which they add a pinch of salt, infusing it with their flavour or ingredient, and then churn it for 8 minutes.  Kitchen waste is collected for composting, and they avoid using non-recyclable products, to minimise landfill waste.

In the short time of the business’ life they have sold only at markets, and are active on Twitter.  Today they start with a stand at the Neighbourgoods Market at the Biscuit Mill for the first time, and recently started a pop-up shop on Wednesday afternoons at Starlings Café in Claremont.  From 12 January they will be at the Earth Fair Market on St George’s Mall. They now have a Web Shop, and one can order and pay for the products via the website, and choose a collection point, being the offices in Mowbray, or at any of the markets at which they are at.

Flavours which one can order are chocolate, vanilla, ginger, peanut butter, strawberry, and lemon.  I tried the lemon (made me think of my mom’s special lemon chiffon, and very refreshing), blackberries (beautiful rich purple colour, making it good for plating, but also very good taste), chocolate (very thick and rich, excellent), fresh ginger (I am not really a ginger fan, but a very unusual ice cream flavour, and probably excellent served with a tart), barley malt (the sweetest of the six I tasted, and a very pronounced flavour reminiscent of Horlicks), and Black Mist Stout (made from the Darling Brew beer, popular amongst the ladies too).  They are constantly looking for new ice cream flavours, and look to the USA for new ideas.  Having come from Frankie Fenner Meat Merchants to the Freeworld Design Centre Christmas Market, I had fun brainstorming meat ice creams with Kate, which the new meat retailer is interested in stocking.  They have also experimented with coriander seed, cardamon, and star anise spices for ice creams, but are still working on getting the flavour balances right.  Recently I tried their more unusual apricot kernel ice cream, and they told me about their honey, rosemary and peach ice cream.  New ice cream products are in the pipeline, including ice cream sandwiches and cakes.

The Creamery ice creams are sold in scoops at markets, and in 500 ml tubs via web orders, at R45. They are looking at doing a 200ml cup, for sale at specialist theatres such as The Fugard Theatre and Labia.  An Ice Cream Club is to be launched next month, a three month membership offering three tubs in seasonal flavours, with invitations to try new flavours and products. Kate said that they will keep it local and seasonal, making small batches, working with ‘little guys just like us’.

The Creamery, 22A Waverley Business Park, Weymouth Road, Mowbray.  Tel 0722522225.  www.thecreamery.co.za Twitter: @TheCreamerySA

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage