Having been away from Seattle for about six months, a lot has changed here. They now charge for bags at the grocery store; the bus is more expensive; the old Center House at the Seattle Center is now a gourmet foodie destination (or trying to be).
But of all the changes, one of the most exciting is that there appears to have been an ice cream explosion in the city. Highlights: Cupcake Royale and Top Pot Doughnuts are branching out to now offer ice cream; Lick Ice Cream opened its doors on Pine Street. And though not ice cream, it's related: D'ambrosio Gelato opened a second location in Capitol Hill.
The first one I have had the pleasure to sample so far is the ice cream at Cupcake Royale (where you can also buy my cards, btw).
Now, when CCR started offering ice cream, I was intrigued--because while it certainly was branching out from the cupcake theme, it definitely seemed like a natural progression. And a good combo.
As I learned from Seattle Met, it further makes sense because owner Jody Hall "happens to be close friends with Kim Malek, founder of crazy good Portland ice creamery Salt and Straw …a convenient liaison, indeed. Hall says Malek lent considerable time and assistance in developing her program, and Cupcake Royale ice cream maven Nicki Kerbs and “head churner” James Lowell both went down to Portland for some training."
CakeSpy Note: I have known and loved Salt and Straw, too!
They offer two categories of flavors: "Cupcakes n cream" which are inspired by (and include bits of) their cupcake flavors, including Red Velvet (Cream cheese, buttermilk ice cream with chunks of Red Velvet cupcakes), and Dance Party with Holly Hobbie (Triple vanilla ice cream with chunks of Dance Party cupcakes).
The second category is "Bakeshop Inspired" which feature the "just what it sounds like"--Oregon Hill Strawberry or Royale Extra Dark Chocolate, for instance, as well as some more exotic, like Washington Hazelnut Brittle with Salted Ganache (Vanilla ice cream with chunks of house made salted ganache and hazelnut brittle) or Whiskey Maple Bacon Crack (Real maple ice cream with a hint of Woodinville Whiskey loaded with house-made bacon crack (aka brittle).
But you can see the entire flavor list here.
So. After pining over the flavor list for a while, I finally got to go and try it! I went with my buddies Nicole and Ramon. I've eaten ice cream with them before, in multiple countries.
After sampling the Red Velvet, I had a sort of reaction where I wanted to do a happy dance to praise the heavens for this tangy, cakey, creamy "oh my god how quickly can I eat a vat of it" ice cream. It's really, really good.
But since I was really craving an ice cream sandwich, I decided to go with a different flavor for the main event. I went with the Washington Hazelnut Brittle with Salted Ganache, because really, what part of that is wrong? I got it between two "bacon crack" cookies.
The cookies, sweet and caramelly and then with a big, salty, bacon-y bite, had a very assertive flavor. As a stand-alone cookie it might not be for the feint of heart. But when used as bookends for this ice cream, I don't think I am exaggerating when I say they approach perfection. The creaminess of the ice cream itself worked nicely with the salty bacon-y flavor--and it was a really, really good ice cream all by itself. I was highly impressed by the creamy vanilla base which was studded with bits of nutty, caramelly brittle and salted chocolate ribboned throughout. It was a Ben & Jerry's style ice cream in that it was really packed with the fillings, but a more intimately delicious version in that I know this stuff is lovingly made in smaller batches.
Highly enchanted by this experience, I returned the next day for the Red Velvet Ice cream, which was, as I remembered from my taste of it the night before, totally effing delicious.
Cupcake Royale's ice cream not only met my expectations, but exceeded them. They have managed to find a perfect balance: the flavors are not only attention-grabbing, but they are actually delicious. I'm really proud of this gem of a local business for being able to bravely expand in a way that makes sense, and to do it so tastefully and toothsomely.
Other things I should mention: they also have ice cream sandwiches bookended with cake (yum); they also have Red Velvet Waffle cones. Red Velvet Waffle Cones! Yeah!
So, in case you hadn't gotten the message yet: CakeSpy gives a big thumbs up to Cupcake Royale's ice cream.
Cupcake Royale ice cream, scooped fresh at Ballard, Bellevue, 108 Pine, and the Capitol Hill locations; there are pints and sandwiches at ALL locations. GO GET SOME. DO IT. Online here.