Welcome back to the Hay Rosie blog! Thank you for coming to visit even though weve admittedly been a liiiiittle less than active with the posts here over the last few months. I wont bore you by trying to address the details of this extremely long lag time. Needless to say, there was a bustling Brooklyn summer, a serenely sweet fall, a few dozen flavors and several thousand scoops since we last spoke. But now that were knee-deep in winter and officially on a cold-weather hiatus, its finally time to settle in with some updates!
First of all, it was an incredible first year. A little mind-blowing, actually. Thank you all so much for supporting Hay Rosie! Weve had a total blast serving everyone in the Tasting Room, at a variety of unforgettable events, and even shipping some of our ice cream all over the country! And just because Jack Frost has barged in and made himself right at home in NYC (again, dude?), lingering long after his welcome has worn thin, it doesnt mean that were on an extended vacation. This is valuable R&D time, an ideal opportunity for maximum output of delicious experiments and crazy concoctions. I thought it would be fun to not only share some of the progress, but also some of the recipes here on the blog.
As far as Im concerned, Valentines Day exists as an excuse to eat tons of chocolate, drink bottles of Champagne, and make reservations for the Tasting Menu at that restaurant youve been meaning to try. But if youve spent any time at the drug store recently, youll have been enlightened that what its really about is sugar and the color red. So this seemed like an apropos item to open the series either way.
Theyre not roses and theyre not exactly red, this is true, but hibiscus flowers are so fragrant, flavorful, and an eye-candy-colored shade of fuchsia that they just may earn you some extra points on V-Day. This is a foolproof recipe that is endlessly adaptable. Its hue and flavor are so hypnotizing, its practically a Hogwarts-level love potion.
You can customize this syrup with your own spices or other citrus accents, but my personal favorite is the punchy flavor it gets here with just a little bit of fresh ginger and vanilla bean. Star Anise, Cinnamon, and Clove also make great additions for a warming, mulled wine-type of character.
As an ice cream topping, it coaxes out huge flavor in your favorite vanilla, or it can be layered in as a swirl if youre churning your own. That said, its extremely versatile and is right at home in a cocktail (youll find that it gets along famously with gin, bourbon, and rum), as the base for a DIY soda (1 part syrup: 3 parts soda water), dosed into a picture-perfect glass of bubbly (garnish with the berry of your choice) stirred into a bowl of oatmeal for a bright, beautiful breakfast, drizzled over strawberries on your favorite slice of pound cake, or to add a little oomph to desserts like these honey-banana hand-pies.
I could go on, but I think youll find plenty of your own uses!
Ive also found that the sweet-tartness of hibiscus makes it a great substitute for grape flavor when paired with peanut butter. A tablespoon blended in with 2 scoops your favorite peanut butter ice cream and a splash of milk makes for a killer take on a PB&J Milkshake. Hea. Ven.
So whip up a batch and keep it on hand this Saturday, because whether youre having a romantic brunch, dinner with friends, dessert all day long, or perhaps just stealing away that solo trip to see Fifty Shades of Grey when you think no one will catch you (you know who you are), this Love Potion will bring a little spice and a lot of color to everyones favorite February holiday.
Love Potion HVG
3 Cups Water
1 Cup Dried Hibiscus
3/4 Cup Brown Sugar
3/4 Cup Sugar
Lemon Peel (from 1 medium-sized fruit)
1 Vanilla Bean (use both the scraped seeds and the pod)
Fresh Ginger (about a 1/2 1 inch piece, peeled and smashed. More if youre feeling extra spicy.)
Combine the ingredients in a medium saucepan over moderate heat. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer until reduced by about 1/2. Remove from heat. Using a cheesecloth or a fine-mesh strainer, remove the solids. Allow the syrup to cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Wow, its been a really long time and a whole lot has happened! First of all, were open! I mean, thats kind of the main thing, and everything else falls after that.
This week has been one full month in business, and personally I think thats worth celebrating. Its my personal belief that when taking such a leap, its important to commemorate all the milestones big and small. Even if its simply to reflect and it has been an eventful month, indeed. Our Tasting Room has hosted so many wonderful and welcoming customers who seem to really enjoy our ice cream! After working so long to build the business, this strange blurred tunnel vision thing happens and it becomes possible to almost totally lose sight of what youre working on. It has been reinvigorating to have such great folks giving us positive feedback.
Secondly, its not just me anymore hurray! As fun as it was to embark on this crazy adventure solo, its far more exciting to work with some super talented and likeminded friends who share a passion for fine confections and all things food-related. It all started with some incredibly long production days early on when I began to realize that the one-woman show might not be sustainable. Walking home late at the end of a string of 18 hour days, I finally made the admission to myself. I needed help in a big way.
Enter Jeremy Arkin Production Manager/Sous Chef & all-around ice cream superhero.
Jeremy is the brilliant mind behind Batman, Bruce Wayne, and Pretzel Honey Mustard (among others), and he can often be found spending quality time with R2-D2 (thats our vat pasteurizer) and wearing a Caped Crusader apron.
Bringing Jeremy on board was the first step in building our team. We were making lots of ice cream and I had someone to whom I could direct my ramblings (I was getting kind of concerned that the walls were becoming bored with them).
Then we realized that our little Tasting Room was going to need a bit more manpower. Chrissy Ward came to the rescue. Shes the smiling face behind the dipping cabinet most days, not to mention our resident pastry/topping/confection-of-any-kind guru. Chrissy has brought you such crowd favorites as Coffee Caramel Sauce and most notably, the Fluff Flambe.
We spend a lot of time together, working, sampling, and brainstorming the next big ice cream idea. What a difference its made and I feel incredibly lucky to have such a great team that have quickly become good friends.
And it hasnt stopped were in the process of growing the team again. Keep an eye out for some energetic new faces in both the Tasting Room and in the kitchen!
It doesnt even seem real to me just yet, but its so much fun to see the small space buzzing with activity every day. Its surreal and things are certainly very different than just six weeks ago. I still dont sleep much, but lately its because Im busy scribbling flavor ideas on Post-Its, or because Im so excited to taste whatever fun ideas we have cooked up for the next days production run.
Tonight is one of those nights. On the docket for tomorrow is a Roasted Cherry & Chocolate Chunk in Tahitian Vanilla (were going to need a better name), and a Chevre Ice Cream with Fennel Pollen & Orange Zest (seriously, Im really bad at this naming thing suggestions welcome!). The cherries were absolutely stunning at the market this morning and seemed to be begging to be bathed in ice cream, so I happily obliged. Chrissys got something up her sleeve that involves some of Brooklyns finest doughnuts, and Jeremy is planning a smoke session for a fresh batch of Bonfire at the Beach, among other things.
The business side has been exciting, too. Weve got some great restaurants on our wholesale account list, like Vekslers in Carroll Gardens and Building on Bond in Cobble Hill, and theres been a growing interest from others that were really looking forward to. Were also going to be a part of the upcoming Brooklyn Flea ice cream bonanza in some really fantastic company.
Ive learned so much over the past six months (is it really only six months??), and it turns out, ice cream is a ton of hard work. Lucky for us, it happens to also be the most fun job in the world (in my humble opinion).
Anyway, thanks for taking the time to catch up with us. I hope to see yall very soon! I really think youre going to want to taste this little cherry numberI know I cant wait to try it.
When I began the search for ice cream packaging, I naturally went straight for the most common option available the cylindrical pint containers that populate most freezer sections. I entertained a few different suppliers and evaluated what seemed to be my choices: clear or opaque? In-line printing or labels? And…not much else. It suddenly felt like a very limited array and it wasnt sitting well with me.
I began to think really hard about those pints and, in the interest of due diligence, conducted some very scientific research.
Because Im rarely satisfied with a single flavor (or even a handful of flavors), and I have a tendency to overstock the finite space that my freezer offers. This means I often find myself cramming pints of ice cream into parts of the freezer that arent really made to accommodate such volume; stacking those pints is a precarious business that typically culminates with the sound of crashing plastic following the closing of my freezer door. And when I try to transport a few new finds to a friends house, it inevitably presents yet another packing challenge (Side-by-side doesnt quite do it; do turn some upside down? How can I fit the absolute most ice cream in this square cooler as possible?!).
One day while voicing my ice cream packing concerns to my friend Ben, he asked me if anyone was still using the old cardboard containers for ice cream. It got me thinking about those packages and the way that Id enjoyed ice cream growing up. I have such pleasant memories of peeling back the cardboard lid to reveal that pristine square surface, and of finishing off that perfect last bite that Id found hiding in the bottom corners of the container.
I started to seek out those packages and had no real luck as theyve been largely phased out. Custom packaging seemed way out of the realm of financial possibility for a small startup company and we certainly couldnt afford to think about anything less than competitively priced considering the cost of ingredients we plan to use in our ice creams. As expected, most of the companies I spoke with worked with giant food conglomerates and were looking for minimum orders in the millions. Forget the money, where would we even put more than a few thousand packages?!
After a few months of research, I was just about to give up hope when our designer friends at Studio Nudge came across a fantastic company that specializes in packaging solutions for small businesses. They listened, put together some prototypes that didnt break our startup-sized bank, and when they arrived in the mail I knew they were perfect. In fact, I loved them so much that we asked them to make us two separate sizes a full 16 ounce pint (coming soon!) and a single serve version (pictured here) that I personally think is basically the most adorable thing to hit the frozen dessert aisle (forgive me, thats just the proud parent in me speaking!).
Finding the perfect package was hugely challenging, but Im so glad we stuck to the search. From the moment I pull the lift-top lid to that last perfect bite hiding in the bottom corner, these crates remind me of my best ice cream memories. Im so excited to create countless more, and I hope theyll make their way into your future ice cream moments, too
We are super excited to have been included in this amazing round-up of crazy flavors among some of our ice cream heroes. Sriracha Popcorn, you devil, you.
Anyone who has ever expressed interest in wanting to learn something new or do something that scares them every day should definitely consider starting a small business. I will be honest with you, I live in constant fear. Sometimes of little things, like missing an important phone call or not being able to receive a delivery. Sometimes of bigger things like having the budget for crucial pieces of equipment or, of course, the biggest thing of all failure.
Have you ever found yourself praying to the plumbing gods? No, not like that time in college when you were hugging the toilet but actually praying that copper pipes dont fail or that a valve is in stock at the closest supply shop. Or been asked questions that you havent the first idea how to answer.
Over the last few months one inquiry that I have answered repeatedly is the whens-opening-day question. So close! Almost there! And I believe it every time! But inevitably a toilet springs a leak or something is backordered or a job isnt finished for lack of supplies. There are whole days where I barely even utter the words ice cream. Instead, I hear myself saying egg shell or vacuum breaker or access panel. I am often carrying boxes or cans of paint and coming home covered in sawdust rather than sugar. Its a strange time indeed.
On the weekends when construction ceases, I head back into the kitchen to continue to test and develop and perfect recipes and formulas, and try to nail down things like cost and ingredient sources. I think about marketing and how to approach wholesale accounts. I stress over flavor selection, trying to make sure theres something for everyone while remembering our mission and what makes our ice cream unique. My nights are usually spent in front of the computer, rearranging spreadsheet inputs and interpreting numbers, trying to be certain that Im not missing anything critical, or researching trends in both small business and the food/ice cream industries.
Were living in an odd limbo period in which Im very much ready to start this business, and yet not entirely ready just yet.
And yet through all the headaches, the backaches, the looming budget, the scrapes, the sleepless nights and the fears, I truly cannot complain. At the end of every night, I get to go to sleep knowing that Ive made some progress throughout the day or learned something new or accomplished something that I started out thinking I couldnt possibly achieve. I know that every waking minute Im working hard and am sometimes incredibly frustrated, but what Im working on is something about which I am so passionate and so excited, and Im so lucky for being able to do so.
Starting a small business is incredibly frightening. Its taxing both physically and mentally, and there are fleeting moments during which I wonder what on earth Ive gotten myself into. But Im quite certain that with the first cone that I serve to a fellow ice cream-lover, I will know that it was worth it all.
When is opening day, you ask? Soon. Very, very soon. :)