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.

 

 

okay let’s do this okay

So, we put out a survey a few days ago, partly so we could figure out what our strategy for this fall/winter is going to be. And right after we posted the survey, it got a bit colder; thanks for the free market research, weather patterns! Things Mrs. Parlour has observed this week:

  • People will still buy ice cream when it’s cold and rainy. They’re much more likely to buy it if there’s somewhere close by and warm to take said ice cream.
  • No one wants soda or floats when it’s cold and rainy, but a few people want milkshakes. But only a few.
  • People DEFINITELY want hot chocolate when it’s cold and rainy, even if we accidentally write the wrong price on the menu board and it appears to be more expensive than it actually is.

It’s going to be warm again tomorrow, but the past few days have been helpful in figuring out how to keep stuff going in the fall/wintertime. When it gets for-real cold again, we’re thinking of switching out our milkshakes and floats for hot chocolate, chai, and cider. We’ll probably have a smaller ice cream menu, and more cookies and baked goods (like Ari Berenbaum’s donuts!) And we’ll try to think of some interesting ways to incorporate our ice cream into hot drinks (a customer suggested a scoop on top of hot chocolate instead of whipped cream, which seems like a great idea.)

So, what do you think? Any suggestions for how we can stay busy in the wintertime? Know any offices that would like a mid-afternoon hot chocolate and cookie break? Let us know!

Branching out

Our bus is often spotted outside of Motorco or Fullsteam, where we have our only two regularly-scheduled appearances (Sunday afternoons and Wednesday nights, respectively). We love those businesses, and we’re thrilled to be a staple of the Rigsbee Ave. food truck scene. But we also want to visit other neighborhoods (we are mobile after all), so we can be seen by folks who haven’t heard of us yet and get closer to the fans who can’t make it to Rigsbee Ave. easily. So we wanted to let y’all know about some other locations we have coming up.

West Village, Downtown Durham

We’ve been parking at Posh or Magpie from 2:00-5:00 the last few Saturdays. We have some special events coming up the next few weekends, but we’ll be at Magpie again on Thursday the 18th, and will probably start going regularly on Saturdays again soon.

Old West Durham

Monkey Bottom Collaborative is an artist space in Old West Durham that’s having a dance party on Saturday the 20th. Bring your own iPod (or Zune or MiniDisc player) with a playlist full of dance, then take breaks from dancing to eat ice cream or vice versa.

We’re doing another event on Tuesday the 23rd at Outsider Art & Collectibles, a gallery on Iredell* that’s celebrating some renovations and the arrival of fall.

We also show up every other Wednesday at Erwin Square, 2200 W. Main*. We just stop by for an hour (3:00–4:00 pm) so folks working in the building can take an ice cream break, but anyone is welcome to show up!

*okay, we think but aren’t entirely sure, that these places are in OWD…

Points South

Infuzion is a studio on Westgate Dr. (over by Li Ming Global Mart and Toys R Us), with classes for all ages in dance, music, and martial arts. This Saturday, August 13th, they’re having a festival all day where you can sample dance classes cheap! We’ll be there from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm.

The Penrith West community is having a Salsa Walk on Saturday the 20th. As we understand it, it’s an outdoor salsa contest where anyone who brings their own chips can vote for the winner. It’s at 5604 Welkin Ct. which is out by Highway 54 and I-40, almost to RTP.

If you or your friends live or hang out in any of these places, come say hi! If you have suggestions for other neighborhoods that would like to have us, drop us a line.