One year later…

Happy birthday to us!

Today marks one year since our first day serving ice cream, at the Accent Hardwood parking lot, just north of the Durham Farmers Market:

The Parlour, opening day

We knew back then that we were making terrific ice cream, but we really had no idea if we’d sell any. Okay, we were encouraged by the fact that we had a couple hundred fans on Facebook and Twitter before we even opened, but who could say whether anyone else would find us? Read more

The South’s Best New Artisan Ice Creams

More Shout-outs, More Ice Cream

Our last blog post talked about how honored we are to connect with the local community by participating in nonprofit and charitable events. Of course, The Parlour a for-profit enterprise, and we’re also grateful for the relationships we’ve built with other local businesses.

It would take a lot of posts to discuss every kind of interaction with other businesses, so we’ll just talk about companies that provide a place to park. These companies support us in 2 ways: enabling us to serve to the public, or hiring us directly to cater an event.

Serving to the public

We have to begin with a hearty toast to Motorco and Fullsteam. Our regular appearances at these great Rigsbee Ave. spots have really gotten our name out there. We’ve also made occasional evening and weekend stops at Outsiders Art & Collectibles (where we’ll be this Friday!), Magpie Boutique, the Wells Fargo on Main, and Accent Hardwood.

This season: more daytime hours

In 2011 we didn’t serve much during the workweek. This season, we’ll be joining friends for lunch a few times a month, thanks to some Triangle businesses who graciously host lunch trucks. Here’s the lineup for now:

We love bringing our handmade treats to the folks working hard in the region’s office parks, so we appreciate the companies who’ve invited us out to scoop on their property!

Catering

Triangle businesses also gave us a big boost in our first year by hiring us to come treat their employees on premises. Some of these include the aforementioned Health Decisions and Insomniac Games, as well as Epic Games, SportsMedia Technologies, Panera Bread, iContact.com, and more. Folks seemed thrilled to have us out, and we’re looking forward to making some return visits this year!

Making more connections

We plan to add some more regular daytime appearances this year, so we’d like to hear about it if your company’s a good spot to be seen. And we always welcome the opportunity to provide the treats at catered events. Could your workplace use more great handmade ice cream? Get in touch!

Giving a little back

Since we started scooping last May, we’ve been humbled and amazed at the great reception we’ve gotten from Durham and surrounding communities. As we fill in our schedule for another busy season, we’re excited to return some of that support by participating in several charity and community events!

Upcoming Events

The first event we’re participating in is one that we’re sure lots of folks are looking forward to. Empty Bowls is a benefit for Urban Ministries of Durham’s Community Cafe, which serves three meals a day, every day of the year, to shelter residents and anyone in need of a meal. The cafe relies on volunteers and donations to keep running, and this year’s Empty Bowls event hopes to raise $30,000 to fill more empty bowls. Mrs. Parlour’s previous employer is one of the many great local restaurants contributing this year by participating in a soup competition at The Armory on March 8th. You may be wondering how we fit in, since we serve ice cream, not soup! Well, this year, Empty Bowls is having an afterparty at Fullsteam with bands and a food truck mini-rodeo. Each truck will have a special that fits in a bowl. Ours will be a sundae, naturally, and we’ll be donating 10% of our sales for the evening to Urban Ministries.

The following week is the grand opening for Liberty Arts, a non-profit metalworking studio, in its new space at the Cordoba Art Center (right by the Scrap Exchange)! This one is March 16th, a 3rd Friday, so there’ll be lots going on in the neighborhood. We’re doing a super-secret promotion that night, so keep your ears to the ground for details.

The very next day (March 17th) we’ll be at the anniversary celebration for Marry Durham. Last year, lots of folks came out for a civil union, parade, and reception pledging a commitment to keeping the Bull City great. The organizers raised $25,00 for five local charities in 2011. Vendors at this year’s event are also donating 10% for local charities (we don’t have the full list yet, but it will include at least some of last year’s recipients).

On April 21st, we head to neighboring towns for two community events in one day. First, we’ll be at the K9-3k dog walk through downtown Raleigh. This event raises money for the SPCA of Wake County. Since the Parlour family includes 3 rescued dogs and 3 rescued cats, we’re hoping lots of people register for the walk! And we’ll have free treats for your 4-legged companions. After the dog walk, we’re heading over to Briar Chapel for their Earth Day celebration, where we’ll be contributing a percentage of proceeds to the Abundance Foundation.

We’re also thrilled to be participating in this year’s Beaver Queen Pageant on June 2nd. The Pageant is a family-friendly outdoor event with music and food. It’s also a fundraiser for the Ellerbe Creek Watershed Association, which is dedicated to restoring and preserving Ellerbe Creek, which runs right through Durham (including the park where we walk our dogs). Keep an eye on the Beaver Lodge website to find out about donating or participating in the pageant!

There are still more events we’re confirmed for and probably others to come, but this post is fairly long already. And we wanted to get to this last bit:

On a personal note…

Even before all these events, we’re participating in one more thing related to our little corner of the community. Our fellow food trucker Kenny Pettis, the Pop in Will and Pop’s was badly injured in a motorcycle accident earlier in February. During the week of the February 26th, we’re joining several other food trucks to collect donations to help out with Pop’s mounting medical expenses. If you’re a fan of Will & Pop’s locally-sourced street eats, or just want to show your support for the Triangle’s food trucks, please consider making a donation. Each truck will be pitching in with a contribution of our own, too, picking one day that week to donate a percentage of sales. We’ll post a list of participating trucks in the next few days.

Thanks for reading, and we’ll see y’all out and around soon!

Our first test batch of the season, and a giveaway!

Today we made our first test batch for this coming spring/summer. We often test our new ice cream ideas at home in our Musso Lussino ice cream maker, in small one quart batches. This way, if a recipe goes terribly wrong (PG Tips ice cream, I’m talking to you), we haven’t wasted tons of ingredients and time. Today’s flavor: lime vanilla bean buttermilk ice cream with blueberry swirl.

Now, since we’re making this ice cream in January while we’re closed, we used your average grocery store (organic) blueberries. During blueberry season we get ours from either Lyon Farms or Snikroc; both farms have pick-your-own, which is a fun thing to do before it gets too unbearably hot. And I know maybe right now you’re thinking “man, those limes are kinda gross looking”, but Mrs. Parlour likes limes best when they’ve ripened a bit, until they’re more yellow than green. Buttermilk and fresh vanilla bean (not pictured) are also part of the equation.

First, we cooked down fresh blueberries with sugar and pressed them through a sieve to make a thick blueberry sauce.

 

While the sauce thickened up in the fridge, the ice cream base came together: first, cream, sugar, and vanilla bean:

Then lime zest, and a bit of cornstarch to thicken the custard.

After adding the buttermilk and some lime juice, we let the custard get nice and cold before churning.

Then came the slightly more challenging part; layering the just-churned ice cream with the blueberry sauce. See that blur in the top left corner of the photo? That’s my hand moving as quickly as I can make it.

We’re pretty happy with the end result, so we’re giving a pint away! Just leave us a comment letting us know what new flavors you’d like to see on the bus this year. We’ll choose a winner randomly by Monday at noon.

 

Winter is a comin’

So, yesterday The Parlour had an Important Business Meeting, also known as sitting at our dining room table trying to figure out what we’re doing for the winter (with interruptions from the cat, the dog, the other cat, the other dog, and the internet, of course.) We’ve come to a few decisions:

  1. Starting now-ish, our menu will condense a bit. We’ll have 6 regular flavors, 1 vegan flavor, and 1 sorbet, and not quite as many toppings.

  2. We’ve added French-style hot chocolate, old fashioned hot cocoa, and spiced cider to the menu, and we plan on adding chai and some sort of coffee drink as well. Right now the availability of hot drinks is contingent on weather, but they’ll be regular items once the weather’s regularly cool.

  3. Once it’s for-real cold, we’ll be pre-packing our items to go. Instead of waiting in line and then ordering and waiting some more, you’ll be able to grab something to go and take it right away. This means selections will be more limited, but it also means we will have ice cream sandwiches regularly and we will make an extra effort to vary the menu and keep things interesting.