Despite the often cold climate, Seattleites eat an incredible amount of ice cream. And they're willing to wait in long lines for the privilege. The neighborhood of Ballard is seeing a boom in frozen treats, with the likes of Full Tilt, D'Ambrosio Gelato, Cupcake Royale, and Molly Moon serving up scoops, while Top Pot sells pints. But the best ice cream in Ballard may belong to Parfait.
Adria Shimada started Parfait as a food truck in 2009, and her brick-and-mortar shop was a much anticipated and long awaited opening. The store is as cute as the truck, with a warm and welcoming counter and a glass-enclosed "workshop" behind it, as well as a small number of seats for those who choose to dine in. (There will also be an outdoor seating area when the warmer weather arrives.)
Shimada, who embarked on her business the same year that she had a baby, explained that "I want Parfait to be a family-friendly place, so I'll be serving kid-sized portions of many products." She added, "And I want the products to be healthy. I believe in honest ice cream that doesn't have preservatives and stabilizers."
Parfait is the only from-scratch, organic ice cream company in the area, using dairy, eggs, sugar, and produce from organic farms mostly situated within 150 miles of Seattle. The ice cream is a little lighter and less dense than others, but still with creamy texture and fresh flavors that taste real without being over-the-top. Mint is a good example, as Shimada grows herbs on-site, and the ice cream tastes far from artificial.
The scoop menu features classic flavors—including the signature Vanilla Bean and Decadent Chocolate—as well as specialty options. This winter's seasonal scoops include Sugar Plum Armanac, Roasted Chestnut, and Orange Star Anise. The ice cream is made in small batches, so availability can change. Customers can buy pints to go, along with toppings like Parfait's jars of Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Bean Caramel organic sauces.
Inspired by a period of study in France, Shimada uses French techniques in making her ice cream. She says her workshop (or "atelier," as she calls it) is part creamery and part patisserie, enabling her to expand her ice cream offerings creatively to include profiteroles filled with ice cream, mini ice cream sandwiches, and ice cream cakes and pies. The decorative cones are also made in-house.
With her new place known as "Parfait Ice Cream Patisserie," Shimada stressed that "There's not an ampersand between ice cream and patisserie. I'm just making things that go well with ice cream." Those patisserie items currently include cannelés, bouchons, and rugelach, and may expand to include madeleines, clafoutis, and tarte tatin.
About the author: Jay Friedman is a Seattle-based freelance food writer who happens to travel extensively as a sex educator. An avid fan of noodles (some call him "The Mein Man"), he sees sensuality in all foods, and blogs about it at his Gastrolust website. You can follow him on Twitter @jayfriedman.