Homemade ice cream is the center of my life. Since I started my summer job in a small family shop four years ago, homemade ice cream has become my source of peace. It anchors me and calms me in any place and in any situation. When I travel, the first place I come across is the destination’s iconic ice cream shop. Local ice cream shops, with their familiar and familiar air, can be serene. But the shops are also exciting, immersing shoppers in their community’s culture with friendly scoopers, unique local flavors, and strong ties to the neighborhood.
In my first month at the University of Michigan, ice cream from local and family-owned stores in Ann Arbor kept me sane.
On my first night of college, I headed straight for Blank Slate Creamery. Being there reminded me why I chose the University. It was loud and teeming with young people, just like Ann Arbor, but the warm aroma of waffle cones, cookies and brownies surrounded me like a warm embrace. Pretty blackboards covered in handwriting from friendly customers and waiters covered the shop. Flavors like Apple Cinnamon Crisp invited me to my first fall in the Midwest, while Wolverine Tracks reminded me of the irresistible spirit of Ann Arbor. The brown butter cookie dough was so rich and heartwarming that I (almost) saved some for the impending blackout of the first day of class.
Former college student Janice Sigler, along with her son Nate Nuttle and husband Jerry Sigler, opened Blank Slate, an all-natural, all-homemade ice cream shop, in 2014. Since then, the family has grown into a family. invaluable member of the Ann Arbor Small Business. community-based and invaluable to the lives of many local students and regulars. During their eight years, the family grew closer to each other and remained loyal to Ann Arbor.
“It’s been eight years, and I’m still a little stunned by the opportunity the community has given us… but also the opportunity my own family has given me, to have built this place,” said Nuttle. , COO of Blank Slate. , in an interview with The Daily.
The family sources local ingredients ranging from RoosRoast coffee and HOMES Brewery beer to Frog Holler and Guernsey Farms Dairy products. With a focus on community, Blank Slate elevates other local businesses.
“We can share our customers,” noted Nuttle. “When we worked with HOMES Brewery it was a great partnership for us because people who frequent HOMES may not go to Blank Slate, and people who frequent Blank Slate may not yet know HOMES. ”
On the third night of Welcome Week, I walked the literal and figurative “lonely road” of State Street to my current favorite campus: Michigan Creamery. Michigan Creamery reminded me so much of my workplace that I almost called my boss (largely because I wanted to steal their creative flavors for next summer). It has the feel of the perfect dinner, with bright blue walls, fun colorful lighting, an Ann Arbor mural, and just about every ice cream and chocolate treat imaginable. As I dug into my Detroit Grand Slam Ice Cream (a swirl of salty caramel espresso with espresso chocolate flakes), filled with hot fudge, I feared I would feel painfully nostalgic for my classic American summers. Instead, I felt satisfied.
Although the employees do not make the ice cream or chocolates on site, they source all products locally.
“All of our products are made in Michigan,” owner and manager Sarah Seta proudly said in an interview with The Daily.
Michigan’s sense of craftsmanship and loyalty permeates the store, which Sarah and Jim Seta opened on State Street in 2012. They provide goodies, discounts, and funding to local schools, churches, and charitable organizations. nonprofit while employing many college students and serving students stumbling down State Street in the late night. Their stunning display of artisanal Alpine Chocolat Haus chocolates and their range of cafe treats from local favorite Bearclaw Coffee make patrons wonder if two desserts are too much (they never are).
“Everyone we deal with is also local family businesses. So we’re tied to the way they run their businesses, ”Seta said. “And their products are exceptional.”
If you say you love ice cream, every local will take you to Washtenaw Dairy. As I sat down to write this article, I realized that I had never visited. But as soon as I entered, I never wanted to leave. In the best possible way, it’s like a grandparent is taking you somewhere warm on a hot summer day. Old posters cover the dark paneled walls. Next to rows of homemade Stroh ice cream (a Detroit classic) and rows of fresh donuts and coffee is the perfect little town store, with dairy, wine, and beer (on kegs too!)
For 85 years, the owner families Smith and Raab have done it the old-fashioned way. Their family spirit ranges from the ice cream business to the community of Ann Arbor. They open early to serve piping hot coffee and classic cake donuts alongside a print version of the Michigan Daily and don’t close until 8 p.m. community music school.
As I chatted with Jody Hughes, a longtime Washtenaw Dairy shovel, we celebrated the simple happiness found in ice cream.
“We sell fun,” said Hughes. “There are no angry customers, everyone is just happy to come and get some ice cream or donuts and have a good time. “
After the scoopers applauded my correct pronunciation of “Mackinac Island Fudge” ice cream, I returned to my beaming dormitory with a pint of melted and gorgeous ice cream in hand. During my month of finding peace in the midst of the chaos of the first year and finding a home in a completely unfamiliar place, I realized the value of the true form of comfort food: ice cream. For the first time since arriving in Ann Arbor, I really felt at home.
Blank Slate is located at 300 W. Liberty Street Ann Arbor, MI 48103 and at their new location, 126 E. Grand River Ave, Brighton, MI 48116
Michigan Creamery is located at 302 S State St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104
Washtenaw Dairy is located at 602 S Ashley St, Ann Arbor, MI 48103
Daily arts contributor Kaya Ginsky can be contacted at [email protected]