Passion. A word you hear thrown around on talent shows with such abandon that it has has lost its currency. But what sort of passion does it take to say goodbye to the nine to five, throw all your savings (and some) into your dream, and go head to head with the chain stores and the multinationals in a bid to make a business out of doing the thing you love?
Of course, Liverpool is a passionate city. So it follows that we’re home to a growing group of artisans creating some of the best food and drink you can buy in the region. Beer and bread – the stuff of life. With cake and ice-cream for afters.
But what’s behind the handmade movement? Is it a response to mass production, a push to return to simplicity, or a desire to bring good taste back to the city? We decided to take a look and what’s out there – and it tasted good.
First off, Caffe Cream is a family-run business that has recently won two Wirral Tourism awards situated in New Brighton’s new Marine Point development. It opened in January 2012, serving up a huge array of traditional Italian gelato, all made on the premises by dedicated ice-cream chefs. We dropped in to find about Starbucks, Rimini and Wasabi Pea ice-cream.
SS: Tell us about the genesis of Caffe Cream.
CC: Our position in the industry is a fast-casual dining restaurant with gourmet ice-cream as a core product. We have a full Anglo-Italian menu – rustic bacon sandwiches, scouse and paninis – which we feel combines the best of both cuisines.
We originally planned to open a coffee shop and signed up early for the new waterfront development in New Brighton but those plans took a hit when, six months before opening, a neighbouring unit was taken up by Starbucks.
The idea of competing with the giant coffee chain wasn’t appealing so we went back to the drawing board and decided to head out to Italy and learn how to make traditional gelato.
SS: You actually went to Italy to learn how to make ice-cream?
CC: Yes, we went to Rimini and visited a number of parlours over there and studied how they made their product, looking into the traditional recipes and then we came home, took that knowledge, and applied those production methods to recipes more suited to British sensibilities. I’m due to go back over to Sorento this Summer on a course – the trade over there is very receptive to people learning those techniques.
SS: How do you make traditional ice cream?
CC: It took us months to learn the secrets of great Italian gelato – without revealing our secrets, we don’t use eggs in our ice-cream and we do allow the base mixture to age for 24 hours. We formulated a recipe that combined equal parts top-end Italian equipment, locally-sourced milk and authentic Italian ingredients.
SS: Tell us about your flavours and new creations…
CC: With a catalogue of over 60 flavours, with 20-30 available at any one time, we’ve a huge variety that takes in traditional vanillas and chocolates to more sophisticated offerings such as apple crumble, rhubarb and custard and our Accidental Jaffa Cake ice-cream.
With the latter, we were looking to recreate a chocolate orange flavour at the request of a regular. Obviously that’s difficult as dairy and citrus are difficult to combine, so in the experimentation period in the lab we stumbled across an absolute dead cert for a Jaffa Cake recipe. We’ve just submitted it to the Great Taste Awards.
We also sell low-sugar and low-fat diabetic ice-cream, which we call our zero range. We use sugar substitutes and skimmed milk so they’re diabetic-friendly and also good for parents who are aware of how much sugar their children are consuming.
Perhaps our most unusual ice-cream is our Wasabi Pea flavour combines the heat and strength of wasabi and the result is still a great-tasting product – and it’s surprisingly popular! We’re always asking our clientele to challenge us on new flavours – we’re currently working on a Double Decker flavour and we’ve also launched a Malteser flavour; we like a challenge!