Ice cream is my arch-nemesis. Remember that scene from the movie Chocolat (video at bottom) when the mayor of the town, Comte de Reynaud, attempts to kill all the chocolate with a letter opener, but then once he gets a taste of it he ends up gorging himself in a fit of sinful food debauchery so ridiculous and intensely emotional that the candy shop owner finds him laying in her display window passed out from his chocolate drunk the next morning? Yeah well, that’s me on ice cream.
My friends, I have been on a no-dairy diet for 20 years and I have done an excellent job since I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis in July of not stepping out on the good-for-me health diet. However, a few months before that date I discovered my niece, Kim, and her wife, Alexis, make the ice cream at the legendary Ultimate Ice Cream in Asheville, North Carolina. When I visited this season they invited me to tour the ice cream factory to watch the creation process with locally sourced ingredients, then go with the family afterward to sample a few small tidbits at the shop.
Alternatives to Dairy
Ultimate has several non-dairy ice creams that are delicious. For those of those who think a non-dairy ice cream is bad, I’d say you haven’t tried non-dairy ice cream made from coconut milk – I love it. There are several amazing dairy-free ice creams out there that are made from coconut, soy, or almond milk which might help you get over the ice cream cravings.
Every year Kim and Alexis make an astounding 52,000+ gallons of delicious ice cream for Ultimate Ice Cream. They work in a small ice cream factory cold room producing thousands of gallons per week – each gallon is topped off with the Ultimate heart to represent the carrying and love they put into the work. Both ladies attended pastry chef school and spent their early years of apprentice training at The Biltmore Estate kitchens. They create hundreds of flavors which are legendary in Asheville such as Blood Orange, Cinnamon w/Red Hots, Vegan Mountain Berry Soy, Raspberry Almond Milk, Black Coffee Sorbet, and Fresh Ginger (which is my personal favorite-of-all-time). Holiday flavors that are out right now include Peppermint Stick, Molasses Gingerbread, and Eggnog.
Going to the factory was interesting; I was able to see all the fresh local ingredients they use, watch them make ice cream using large creamery machines, and pack the ice cream gallons in a gigantic freezer room.
After the factory tour was complete, we headed over to the Ultimate Ice Cream store. With the first tiny little taste of the pistachio ice cream I fell madly in love – so delicious, so creamy – so emotional. Alexis asked, “So. What other flavors would you like to sample?”
Alexis takes a deep breath, looks at me calmly and speaks to me as if I am a very small child, “All the ice cream flavors? That’s like 40 or 50 flavors.”
“YES! ALLLLL the flavors!!”
And so began the most ridiculous bit of ice cream eating I’ve ever done in my life. Picking a favorite is damned near impossible because it was all delicious. Insanely delicious. I ate my face off. I woke up the next day looking like Comte de Reynaud laying in the chocolate window; total indulgent ice cream hangover with a big smile on my face.
Good news for all you ice cream lovers – Ultimate Ice Cream in all it’s dairy or non-dairy forms can be custom made and shipped all over the country for the holidays (or any time of the year). If you happen to see my nieces Kim and Alexis at the ice cream shop, be sure to say hello and tell them that Shawna sent you!