The Scoop: We all scream for ice cream

14 January 2015 - 02:05 By Alexander Matthews
DREAMERY: Marianne Visser, left, and Kate Schrire of The Creamery enjoy a waffle and ice cream at their new premises in Salt River
DREAMERY: Marianne Visser, left, and Kate Schrire of The Creamery enjoy a waffle and ice cream at their new premises in Salt River

The Creamery is my happy place. I regularly make a detour to its dessert café in Newlands because there's always a convincing excuse to enjoy its ice cream.

Easily the best in Cape Town, a scoop from The Creamery offers balm for bad weather, a breakup or a broken toe. It's the best way to celebrate when the sun is out and good friends are in town.

The Creamery recently opened another café, adjoining its new factory in Salt River: an airy space with enormous windows, white brick and tiles, mint stools and wooden counters.

You can watch ice cream being churned in the factory through a window - a reminder that "ice cream isn't born in a vacuum", founder Kate Schrire says. Up to 35 eight-litre batches are made here a day.

Schrire has a crafted approach to making ice cream but says "people shouldn't buy it just because it's artisanal. It should be outright delicious in its own right."

I'm a sea-salt caramel devotee: it tastes like a creamy, cold version of the burnt sugar atop a crème brûlée. I tend to have this on a waffle with warm, salted caramel sauce for good measure - though it's brilliant with a banana split too. Sea-salt caramel is one of the "big five" flavours that are usually on offer. The others are peanut butter, 65% chocolate, Rosetta Roastery coffee and sweet cream (the closest thing you'll get to vanilla).

Schrire started working closely with small, local farmers when she ran the kitchen at the Sustainability Institute near Stellenbosch, and helped to establish the local chapter of the worldwide Slow Food movement. She's drawn on these relationships with farmers to source the high-quality fruit and other ingredients that are used in her ever-changing lineup of flavours. There are usually between eight and 12 seasonal flavours a month and, so far, The Creamery has developed more than 120 different flavours since it began churning in late 2011.

Some have been sheer fluke - such as when naartjies were delivered accidentally instead of oranges. These were combined with chocolate chips and ended up becoming the winter's bestselling flavour.

The proximity of the factory to the new café means there is immediate feedback on flavours being tested in the kitchen.

"The customers constantly teach us what they want," Schrire tells me as I sample the fresh garden mint and the decadent raspberry choc chip. She encourages people to taste as many of the ice creams on offer as they want - they end up discovering flavours they didn't even know they liked. To Schrire's surprise, black tea and candied kumquat, for example, turned out to be a big hit.

Like its older sibling in the southern suburbs, The Creamery's Salt River café isn't just about scoops of ice cream - there are chocolate brownie and s'more sundaes, milkshakes, chocolate pudding and more. The coffee (made with beans from Woodstock's Rosetta Roastery - a specialist in single origin and estate coffees) is also hard to beat.