The origin of ice cream does not, as one might expect, coincide with the modern invention of refrigeration in the early 1800′s. The Roman emperor Nero (A.D. 37-68) frequently ordered ice to be carried from the mountains, and this he topped with fruit and juices.
A thousand years later Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe that closely resembles sherbet. This recipe evolved into ice cream early in the 16th century, and was enjoyed by the French and English nobility.
With the invention of insulated ice houses the general public discovered what until then only the rich had access to.
Muffin is here for her annual summer visit. That means we will visit our local ice cream maker, Screamin’ Mimi’s. It is one of our traditions. We parade by the multitude of flavors, unable to choose among lemon verbena, chocolate mocha chip, salted caramel, toasted coconut, strawberry, coffee, peanut butter or Tahitian vanilla, a revolving flavor wheel. The flavors change daily, believe it or not.
Screamin’ Mimi’s is our ice cream maker extraordinaire. Consistently voted Best of the North Bay, Mimi’s has been serving Sonoma County for almost 20 years.
“Ice cream is fun, but we take it seriously! Our passion is to make the very best ice cream and sorbet in the world.”
They have high standards, and they live up to them.
As anyone with a home ice cream maker can tell you the base consists of whipping cream, milk and sugar. Depending on how you prefer the texture of your ice cream sometimes eggs are added for a custard-like base.
Commercial ice cream makers typically do not put together their own base. They purchase a pre-made mix from a local dairy, pour it into the machine, add flavoring, and allow it to churn away.
Screamin Mimi’s would not reveal their secret recipe, and who can blame them. Sonoma County has an abundance of renowned dairies so my guess is they work with one to perfect their mixture. Flavorings are locally sourced from the lavender to the blackberries. The result is a heavenly product that is best savored slowly.
Ice cream in the U.S. is required to have at least 10% butterfat to be labeled “ice cream.” Though this is the minimum, and would be considered “low fat” or “reduced fat.”
When I was a kid my mother, who always grappled with her weight, brought home “ice milk” which is less than 10% butterfat. Then unfamiliar with the 14% butterfat product like Hagen Das or Ben & Jerry’s we lapped it up and asked for more.
In 1994 FDA rules allowed manufacturers to change the “ice milk” labeling to read, “low-fat ice cream.” As if such an entity exists.
Screamin Mimi’s is somewhere between 10-14%. Delicious and creamy, it rocks your world. And what’s more they charge by the weight. So if you’re feeling gluttonous, add that extra scoop. Feeling frugal, request half a scoop.
To celebrate their 10th anniversary in 2005 Mimi’s offered Free Ice Cream Day Friday following Thanksgiving. In lieu of payment they requested donations for children’s charities. Giving away 3000 cones they collected $1200 which they dispersed between two local and one international charities.
Let’s forget the big boys of ice cream if our town supports a local ice creamery, one that takes pride in their community, uses local and natural ingredients, and gives back to their ardent, happy customers.
My favorite flavor is peanut butter, Muffin’s is cookie dough. What’s yours?