Across the ever-innovative USA, a crop of farm-to-spoon ice-cream boutiques are teaming up with regional small producers and using hyperlocal ingredients that impart a sense of place with every lick. There¡¯s tangy bay laurel at Seattle parlour Kurt Farm Shop ¨C where the essence of Washington State¡¯s aromatic evergreen is swirled into each spoonful ¨C and locally caught lobster ice cream at Ben & Bill¡¯s Chocolate Emporium in Maine. The latter might strike some as uncommonly adventurous, but it¡¯s actually fantastically tasty, not so different from a frozen lobster bisque. And at the San Francisco outposts of super-trendy mini-chain Salt & Straw (pictured below), the maverick riff on a Bay Area cheese plate is also a monster hit; blending triple-cream Mt Tam cheese from a smart local dairy with candied chunks of fruit and walnut bread from Acme bakery, it¡¯s a coneful of rich, funky, crunchy delight.
Owner Kim Malek abandoned a six-figure salary to start the company, which adapts its menu seasonally, and locally to each shop, with flavour highlights including blood pudding from Portland and California-grown black olive brittle. Keep an eye closer to home too ¡ª in Scotland¡¯s St Andrews, ice-cream caf¨¦ Jannettas sources seaweed to make a sorbet; in Brighton, Boho Gelato has cooked up a cep mushroom and chocolate fudge sundae; while in Galway, Ireland, Aniar restaurant has created a wild Atlantic oyster ice cream that¡¯s served in its shell.
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