Thursday, April 17, 2008

Carmela Ice Cream

Recently, at the Sunday Larchmont Farmers Market, I noticed a relatively new stand, Carmela Ice Cream, which serves gourmet ice cream and sorbet made in a small downtown factory. The flavors available were intriguing: meyer lemon, brown sugar vanilla and others made from produce purchased at farmers' markets.

It turns out that Carmela is pretty much a one woman show, founded by traveling foodie Jessica Mortarotti. Mortarotti loved the interplay of flavors in the foods she tasted on various travels. I asked her what gave her the inspiration to make ice cream:

I am a self-taught chef and have always had a genuine love for unique spices, fresh herbs, etc. I recognized a niche in the gourmet dessert market for ice creams that are more geared towards people looking for something fresh, hand made and unique. Ice cream seemed like the perfect blank canvas. I actually didn't even know how to make ice cream when I decided to start this business - so there has been a big learning curve.

As a lover of farmers' markets and someone who buys her ingredients there, Mortarotti made the novel decision to market her ice cream exclusively at local farmers' markets. Right now, she has stands at Thursday's South Pasadena market as well as Larchmont Boulevard's Sunday market.

Her stands are generous with the samples, so I tried a few including Aztec Chocolate (with chili); Mexican Chocolate (with cinnamon); and salty caramel. My favorite of these was the salty caramel. It was ultra-creamy with a subtle caramel taste and just a dash of salt. It was distinctly less dense than most caramel ice creams; I think it's that subtlety I like the most. The ice cream has a light, airy texture, and retains that wonderful, fresh-churned consistency.

The ice cream sells for $9 per pint or $3 for a small paper cup.

Check it out!

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