Sonoma screams for ice cream
There isn’t much that screams summer more than ice cream. Childhood summer days of mine were often spent splashing around my grandparents’ swimming pool, and there was always a much-anticipated outing to the Carvel on the corner. My cousins and I always opted for the soft serve vanilla cone dipped into a liquid chocolate sauce that, much to our childhood amazement, turned into a hard, chocolatey shell. How us kids would freak out for that freezing cold treat on a hot Florida afternoon, which simply tasted of summer.
As teens, we spent many long, hot summer days at my family’s mosquito infested lake house. It was here that us cousins were more tormented by my grandmother’s excruciatingly slow, practically prehistoric, manual crank ice cream machine than we were by the biting insects. After what seemed like hours of turning the lever round and round, we were rewarded with grandma’s perfect peach ice cream made with Georgia fruit from a scruffy roadside stand. Now that was what summer tastes like. As an adult, I purchased an ice cream machine which gathers dust all year long, but works overtime come Memorial Day. Several times a week, all summer long, I whip up batch after batch of homemade, frozen goodies. It’s dangerously simple and unbelievably addictive. My favorite? Good old fashioned peach, of course.
If you’re not excited about the possibility of a homemade ice cream addiction, even though I highly recommend it, here in Sonoma there are many opportunities for obtaining unique, handmade, scrumptious frozen treats this summer. Straus, the small organic dairy on the coast, not only produces outrageously delicious milk and cream – which come in those crazy-cute little glass bottles – but they also happen to make the most delicious organic, soft serve frozen yogurt. Thankfully, our local Whole Foods serves up this heavenly concoction with a smile and never a line, from behind their coffee and pastry counter. From the soft serve machine, the vanilla is artfully presented in your choice of sizes and topped with a few thoughtful, but simple toppings. I am utterly smitten with Straus frozen yogurt, not only because it’s made from the most lovingly produced, organic milk from cows that are completely doted on, but because it is just oh-so-yummy. The flavor has just the most subtle hint of vanilla and is just a tad sweet, with a yogurty tang that I really love. The texture is amazingly lush, fooling your brain into thinking you’re diving into a more sinful, cream-filled treat.
A fun new ice cream shop opened last week in the Maxwell Village shopping center. Frozen Art Gourmet Ice Cream and Paletas creates handmade ice cream and paletas in creative flavors like red Zinfandel chocolate chip, tequila, rose petal and my pick, the cinnamon tortilla. Their award-winning cappuccino stout is one I hope to try soon! Their shop in Santa Rosa is already a favorite amongst locals there. I love when something new and creative opens here in town and I feel pretty lucky with the opening of this sweet little shop here in Sonoma. Currently, they’re open daily until 10 p.m. I love paletas, which are Latin inspired popsicles, and typically come in interesting, tropical flavors. La Michoacana, the brilliant Mexican ice cream shop in the Springs, is another little Sonoma gem. While most Sonomans head to this authentic, cheery parlor to cool down with a frozen banana, scoop of coconut ice cream, or the nutty, totally addictive walnut ice creams scooped generously into cups or cones, I sometimes opt for a paleta. The traditional Mexican frozen snacks, typically hawked along the beachfront, come in milk or water-based flavors. I love the fruit-filled flavors such as strawberry, lime, pineapple chile or a simple, sweet mango which reminds me of my Cuban-influenced days spent living in Miami.
Sonoma’s Best also carries those scrumptious paletas from La Michoacana, but it’s almost impossible for me to visit the charming little general store on East Napa Street without lingering on their front porch with a small scoop of Fiorello’s Italian-style gelato. The shop carries a nice selection of the locally produced gelato, but I can’t seem to order anything besides the insanely tasty, nut-filled pistachio. If you’re wise, you’ll also try ordering an affogato. This ice cream treat means “drowned” in Italian and is easily one of life’s most delicious pleasures. A scoop of vanilla bean flecked gelato is topped with a shot of hot espresso. The whole messy thing is hot and cold, bitter and sweet, and altogether habit-forming…sort of like grandma’s peach ice cream.
Grandma’s Peach Ice Cream
Makes 1-1 1/2 quarts
The secret to this super creamy ice cream is to cook the fruit down to a jamlike consistency with sugar. Frozen peaches are a perfectly good stand-in for fresh in this case, and a scoop of peach ice cream on a slice of toasted pound cake can be a beautiful thing.
2 pounds of fresh or frozen sliced peaches (do not peel if fresh)
2 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 cups heavy cream
6 large egg yolks
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
Stir peaches together with 1/2 cup of the sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. While you prepare the custard, transfer the peaches and the liquid in the bowl to a 2-quart heavy saucepan and boil, covered, over high heat, stirring, 10 minutes, and then simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes more.
For the custard, bring cream and 1/2 cup sugar just to a boil in a 2- to 4-quart heavy saucepan, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and keep hot, covered.
Beat together yolks, salt, and the remaining 3 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until tripled in volume and thick enough to form a ribbon that takes 2 seconds to dissolve into mixture when beater is lifted, 3 to 4 minutes in a stand mixer or 4 to 8 with a handheld. Reduce mixer speed to low and add hot cream mixture to yolks in a slow stream, then transfer custard back to saucepan. Cook over moderately low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until custard is slightly thickened and registers 170°F on thermometer (do not let boil). Pour custard through a fine-mesh sieve into a large heatproof bowl, discarding solids. Let custard cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally.
Purée the hot peach mixture in a blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Force it through a sieve into the custard mixture, pressing on the solids with the back of a spoon and discarding them. Cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally, about 45 minutes. Stir in the almond extract and freeze the custard according to ice cream machine directions. Transfer to an airtight container and put in freezer to harden, at least 4 hours.
Kristin’s foodie event pick of the week
Ram’s Gate is hosting Bi-Rite Market’s Sam Mogannam this Saturday, June 9, from noon to 2:30 p.m. for a “Farm Table Lunch and Culinary Garden Tour” with recipes from Mogannam’s new cookbook, “Eat Good Food: a Grocer’s Guide to Shopping, Cooking & Creating Community Through Food.” In what is sure to be an extraordinary event with the local, this lovely lunch, paired with Ram’s Gate wines, will overlook the vineyards and Carneros beyond, with lively conversation and fabulous sounding food. The affordable $75 ticket price includes the tour, lunch paired with wine, and a signed copy of the book. Call 721.8700 or visit ramsgatewinerybirite.eventbrite.com to find more information or to purchase tickets.
On The Menu
Ramekins hosts a delicious, food and wine filled event tonight, Thursday, June 7, coined “Taste Thursdays.” They will be firing up their wood burning oven for wood-fired pizzas and local wineries – including Ram’s Gate, Audelssa, Long Meadow Ranch, and Scribe – will be pouring. A small farm market will offer fresh goodies grown in the Ramekins gardens, along with live music, and cookie decorating for the kids, all on their pretty outdoor courtyard. For more information, call Ramekins at 933.0450.
• Also this evening, visit the Lodge at Sonoma is hosting a guitar duo Isaac Carter and Jason Bodlovich, with drink specials including $3 pints on the patio outside their new Bean & Bottle Coffeehouse and Wine Bar from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Call 935.6600 for more information.
• Shiso Sushi and Grill has a new chef. John-Paul Kuhn actually returns to Shiso, where he once worked in their previous location. The talented chef has recently honed his sushi-making skills at Morimoto and furthered his appreciation for local produce at the Michelin-starred, vegetable-centric Napa restaurant, Ubuntu. I am excited to get in and see what’s new at Shiso and hope you are too.
Kristin Jorgensen is one of Sonoma’s most passionate, food obsessed residents. In this weekly column, she covers all the delicious happenings, foodie events and restaurants in Sonoma, the rest of Wine Country and beyond. Find her blogging daily as the Cook at thecardiganandcook.com or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.