Finally, summer put in a brief appearance over the Bank Holiday, and we’re still optimistically hoping that it’s coming back. To celebrate, we have rounded up the very best independent ice cream and gelato makers in the land.
If when you think of ice cream, you think of a glass dish filled with multi-coloured flavours, served with lots of different toppings (and a cherry on top), eaten on the promenade as the sun sets over a bay, then Verdis family-run café in Mumbles is your daydream come true. They’re in the perfect spot on the Gower Peninsula with panoramic views across Swansea Bay, but it’s the ice cream that brings the visitors – traditional sundaes and gondolas, as well as gelato affogato and sorbetto nabucco – made fresh every day using milk and cream from local dairies by hand in thirty different flavours.
2. Ryeburn of Helmsley
Keeping things small and simple has never stopped David Otterburn’s little farm café, Ryeburn of Helmsley on the edge of the North York Moors, picking up multiple awards. Only ever making little batches at a time, their ice cream has been repeatedly recognised as some of the best in the UK. Try National Ice Cream Competition gold award winners Toffee and Fudge, and Cookies and Cream, or their Nutella flavoured ice cream, which won David the accolade of Champion of Champions at this year’s contest.
3. Chin Chin Labs
Europe’s first liquid nitrogen ice cream shop is more of science lab than ice cream parlour, complete with smoke, white coats and goggles. Adding liquid nitrogen to the ice cream base and mixing it quickly freezes the base incredibly fast, eliminating any crystals. There’s a rolling menu of a few flavours (check out their website for the special and the flavour of the week), usually with a slightly eccentric twist – expect things like Hot Cross Buns and Earl Grey Tea, Deep Fried Apple Doughnut, and White Chocolate with Pistachio and Cardomom Powder.
The word about where to get good ice cream gets round fast. And in Snugbury’s case, what started as making ice cream for a bit of fun in a farmhouse kitchen for family and friends is now so well-known that more than 200,000 people visit this Cheshire farm every year to try it. Handmade and homemade with fresh cream for almost thirty years, Snugburys are also known for their generously large cones and for loading their ice creams with flavour – expect proper chunks of honeycomb in their Honeycomb ice cream, full flavoured cocoa in Death by Chocolate and rich clotted cream in the Vanilla.
Giuseppe Morelli started what was apparently the UK’s first ice cream parlour from the back of his bicycle after emigrating here in 1907 with his son Mario. The recipe that brought the original Giuseppe remains the same five generations on and it has given this little turn of the century start-up a global reputation. Gelato is milk-based rather than cream-based, making it lighter, and Morelli’s trained gelatieres make it fresh every day. They now have parlours in London, Dubai and all over the world, but their most famous parlour opened in Broadstairs in 1932 giving customers an extra serving of 1930s nostalgia with their ices.
Innovation is the name of the game at this Soho-based gelateria, started by chef Jacob Kennedy, the brains behind Bocca di Lupo. He’s created a recipe for what can only be described as artisanal gelato, keeping the fat content low and the mixing consistently gentle. The result is thick ice cream in clever flavour combinations like Chocolate and Black Pepper, and Vanilla and Saffron. Extra kudos comes from the fact that since opening in 2010, they’ve been declared THE best thing to do in London by Time Out magazine.
7. Granny Gothards
‘From pasture to pot in a day’ is the phrase that sums up this creamy, farm-made Somerset ice cream. Made with milk taken from free roaming cows, Amanda Stansfield and Jean Allen are committed to the welfare and stress-free surroundings of their herd on the Somerset Levels, and to using local produce in their ice cream. The result? Totally natural, guilt-free creamy ices and crisp fresh fruit sorbets. They’ll also build an incredible ice cream cake for anyone who asks nicely.
8. Nardini’s of Largs
A landmark on the banks of the Clyde, Nardini’s is a bit of a Scottish institution for having served Italian gelato on the coast at Largs since 1935. The gelato is made the traditional way, using fresh milk and double cream, and served to you in their glorious Art Deco café on the prom, immaculately refurbished to the original 1930s plans. Watch the gelato chefs making the ice cream, and then pick a flavour with a local twist, like Scottish Tablet, or stick to a classic like Double Cream Vanilla.
Roskilly’s have never compromised on farming their 125-strong herd of Jersey cows in a traditional and sustainable way, and you can taste the difference in their ice cream. They’ve been making ice cream on site since the late 1980s and are committed to only using pure fruit and natural ingredients. The only preservative they use, they boast, is the freezing itself. ‘Time, knowledge, creativity and hard work are at the heart of what we do.’ It’s completely free to tour their farm on the Lizard, and if you do fall in love with their ice cream you can also go and stay in one of their cottages nearby and eat your fill every day.
10.Morelli’s of Portstewart
For those who like their ice cream with the flavour of the old school, then look to the north coast of Northern Ireland, and Morelli’s of Portstewart. The Northern Irish have been making pilgrimage to this ice cream parlour on the strand for decades. Known as the Ice Palace in the Twenties, the Sundae Garden in the Fifties, and Nino’s in the Eighties, it’s hard to say whether visitors come more for the Causeway Coast or for Morelli’s famous ice cream.
Read the piece as it appeared on flavourfirst.org here