After my Jimmy Burger’s blogpost last month, I got various requests from food businesses to do a write-up for them and one that stood out most was from Shumaila at Old Town Creamery, a specialty ice cream shop.
Ice cream!! Now that was really different! I have been so out of touch with this world of sweet delight which I loved dearly before I moved to the US. The closest I have been to an ice cream in recent years is kulfi. With countless, colorful flavors and names to choose from in commercial shops and store aisles here in the US, it is hard to find a taste that lingers on to your taste buds and leaves a memory for next time. This is actually true with any dessert produced by commercial vendors. I have not worked with ice cream makers before but being in the business of tea parties, I have teamed up with many bakers in dessert industry for shoots and vendor-collaborated projects and I know how a specialty shop is a different domain altogether from standard American chains, with a specific edge in taste and uniqueness. The option to blog about Old Town Creamery came as a wonderful opportunity for me to know more about a specialty ice cream outfit as well as revive my relationship with my childhood memories. And believe me readers, after visiting this amazing creamery that has been producing international crowd-pleasing flavors for years, the memories and the taste did revive!
I had come across Old Town Creamery virtually through posts by foodies on popular forum Dallas Halal Restaurants Reviews and peeps’ check-ins and pictures on Facebook and Instagram. The impression I had was the creamery enjoyed good reputation with Pakistani community. I however did not get the true idea of the latitude and dynamics in their flavors till I tried their rare creations! I went to their Plano location with my ten year old son last week, where I was met by the store manager Tayyab and his beautiful wife Hina. He gave me the amazing profile of the shop, its owner Mr. Hussain and walked me through flavors with full particulars on each! His hold on the subject is incredible; he not only knows the ingredients and process but is a well-travelled person with first-hand experience of the fruits during his time in the Far East. Thanks for franchises and chains, we live in a world of “bored and detached” employees who are thinking about clocking their hours more than the food in hand. I mean when was the last time the person behind the serving counter in big franchises went into detail about the flavors with passion? This interactive and informative session with Tayyab and Hina was really refreshing, just like all the flavors in the store! Old Town Creamery was bought by the current owner Hussain bhai around 9 years ago. The quality of the ice cream has known to improve tremendously since then and the assortment of offerings has increased in number! The flavored ice cream is hand-crafted using exotic and interesting fruit of the world, mainly tropical areas of South East and Far East Asia. The taste of their ice creams stands out in every flavor and here are some of the rare and special ones…
The first flavor I tasted was Paan. Paan with its sweetly strong fragrance is deeply embedded in the culture, tradition and history of South East Asia – it is a popular street food, stylish touch at the end of elegant parties and a seriously necessary component in poetic and literary societies. This paan flavored ice cream bite is packed with exactly the same mouth freshening quality, aroma and ingredients of catechu, cardamom, gulkand, fennel seeds, and it tantalizes the taste buds in the familiar sweet way! I cannot get into shoes of people who have not had paan before but my guess is whether you try the ice cream first or paan itself, you will see the striking similarity between the two tastes! I can already imagine my husband savoring the taste! The other flavor that caught my attention was Taro. A root from potato family known as “arbi” or “arvi” This is a popular item for creamery’s Thai customers although much favored by many others too. I have eaten taro as a cooked vegetable years back and unlike many other kids of my age, I did not extremely mind it. The ice cream did bring the taste back but in a slightly different way! The scratchiness specific to the fruit was there, except it was paired with a sweet and creamy texture. A must scoop for those of you who like to challenge your palate in a happy way!Next we moved to rambutan- a lychee family fruit, native to Indonesia-Malayasia. The authentic taste is unknown to me but was not too foreign and had the lively texture of lychee. Very refreshing! Sapodilla or chikoo is another Far Eastern fruit and made a delightful treat with a hint of cantaloupey texture. Custard Apple (Sitafall or sharifa) is a favorite with Indian customers. I had heard my mom saying this word but I could not summon if I had ever tried. It also had a deliciously distinct taste. Durian, from what Tayyab told me and the research I later did, is a very controversial fruit for its taste and smell. Some find it hard to bear (to the point that it has been banned at hotels, elevators or public transports) and some actually devour it. Tayyab asked me twice if I wanted to try and then brought the bucket from backroom. I was ready to be disgusted but surprisingly tolerated the scent quite well. I actually did like the taste too! Not my favorite but not something I would not try again.
Falooda Kulfi Mango – I actually sort of ignored this flavor initially thinking it is regular kulfi but Hina insisted I tried since it differed from the kulfi falooda. So in traditional kulfi all the ingredients are mixed and then frozen to firm. In the ice cream, they use the flavoring ingredients and then let it go through the ice-cream making process. The subtleties of taste and texture did appear after I sampled it. I am sure all you kulfi lovers would appreciate this variance in taste. Thai Tea became an instant favorite as I took the bite!!! This tasted so much like the tea itself, which I had recently started appreciating as a beverage. The sweet taste, aroma and the kick all in one! Same goes for oolong flavored ice cream. These are a must try for lovers of everything tea!The best surprise I got in the creamery was cassata!! This eggless frozen confection is remarkably familiar to anyone my generation from back home. The sampling recalled taste and the ice-cream eating outings we had with our families. It is an equal favorite of Pakistanis, Indians and anyone in for a different ice cream experience. If you have not already, do try this one – it may become your preferred flavor!The ice cream sandwiches and fried ice creams are also very delicious items here at the creamery. Hina prepared me the mango fried ice cream; the warm and crispy shell of the bread around scoop and mango bites created a delectable combination of taste and temperature! It was really a yummy ending of my tasting at Old Town Creamery.
Other than these delighful frozen treats, Old Town Creamery also provides frozen cakes, baked cakes and cupcakes. Hina is able to customize the cake for variety of flavors and decorations. Her detailed workmanship was evident in the samples that were displayed at the store and the pictures that creamery sent me. The creamery also does full service catering for ice cream, sundae bar, kulfi and falooda. The ice cream is also supplied to local restaurants like Noodle Wave and is also sent to restaurants in Houston and Austin. They were (very well-deserved) DMagazine Editor’s choice in 2012 and were featured on the cover of DMagazine in 2014.Visiting this specialty ice cream shop was a pleasingly broad experience. It was a surprise to see how receptive my palate was to some of the unknown flavors! As you can see, I sampled quite a few different tastes but while writing, I remembered distinctly how my sweet tooth was tantalized to each each. And my son is already asking me when we do go back to the awesome ice cream shop (his review of cotton candy flavor: one of the best in the world!). It is indeed a taste apart shop! If you have not been to Old Town Creamery, do visit them and if you have already, visit them again and be cool and be happy!
Photo credits: With the exception of few photographs that I took, all photos were provided by the owner – I only edited them for my blog.
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