Cream The Urban Dairy
Cream the Urban Dairy appropriately goes down like a glass of cool, soothing milk. White, white, everywhere; slick, clean and refreshing.
Lucky for me, because today I needed it (soothing). And after being ditched by my intended ice-cream date, there was only one thing that could ease my jilted heart: ice cream, of course. How utterly ("udderly"?) convenient.
Danielle, the owner of this establishment, is very sweet and enthusiastic. We talk animatedly about Leslieville (her home for many years), and its recent re-birth.
"The guy across the street started his restaurant in what used to be a mechanic's shop, and the rest of us around here were just kind of like, 'whew, finally'." In this previously industrial area, such a drastic makeover hadn't seemed all that possible, and now the possibilities seem endless. Anything goes when garages become cafes - which has definitely happened more than once around these parts.
The community around here is pretty tight, and supportive. I can sense that this place, in spot for only a couple weeks, has all the makings of a beloved neighbourhood fixture.
The promised patio, in particular, including whisperings of a possible sandbox(!) lends itself to visions of long, leisurely Sunday afternoons spent with family- also a fixture of the "new" Leslieville. Extra-long hours of operation (7:30/8am-10 pm!) point to Cream's unspoken vow to be there when you need them. These early hours are accompanied by specialty coffees and fresh-baked muffins, natch.
Before I had set foot anywhere near the place, I had perused their Facebook fan page. It is updated with impressive frequency, listing the flavours one can expect on any given day, and cleverly penciling itself into its fans' daily routines. Danielle speaks of the internet facilitating a connection with her clientele's wants and needs.
Patrons give their input on what works for them, and the shop gets to deliver what the people want. It's a good deal for both sides. The addition of non-dairy options, is one instance - "non-dairy!" she repeats, laughing, and sort of gesturing at the very "dairy" theme surrounding us. I remember the name of the place and I get it.
The sorbets do look very enticing (and they are, admittedly, often what I focus on), but I sample at least four of their creamier cousins.
The flavour-selection is well-rounded, but not to the extent of other "parlour-style" establishments, as she puts it. Here they concentrate on fresh batches of select flavours, with every last bit produced on-site, including candied ginger pieces and caramel bits.
Chocolate, Vanilla Bean, Roasted Nut Caramel (their most popular), and "some variation of" Strawberry are the mainstays. After my palate-awakening Fresh and Candied Ginger sample, I can't help but opt for today's Tropical Strawberry, which has a ginger base.
The consistency of this ice cream is just lovely; very smooth, but refreshingly light. The chunks of strawberry manage to taste incredibly fresh despite being quite obviously frozen.
The ice-cream sandwich I manage to swing for the ride home is also mind-blowingly delicious; fresh and homemade, and chunky beyond my wildest dreams (thank you!). Strawberry with oatmeal, I can honestly say I've never had one like this before.
Cream feels a bit like an ice cream laboratory. I can tell that Danielle has a very adventurous palate and gets excited about the prospects of new flavour combinations. She tells me about the sheep's milk she had in last week.This seems almost unspeakably exotic to me; "really?? What does that taste like?!" She brings out a small cup with the leftovers. It looks beautifully berry-tinged, but is in an impenetrably icy mound.
I want to try it anyway, but she doesn't seem to think it's up to snuff. She hopes to get more of the stuff in the future, on a regular basis. Along with her big patio unveiling, hopes for regular networking with local dairy farmers, and up-to-date online presence, this business might all seem a bit overwhelming.
"And, well, it's just a lot of fun," she says, smiling broadly...It might, if it weren't for that.
"Really, what's more fun than ice cream?", I respond.