Thursday, September 17, 2009

Soft Serve Ice Cream Dreams

As I've said before in this blog and for anyone who knows me, one of my fave things EVER is a perfect soft serve ice cream cone! When I was in Japan visiting my sister and best friend Tara, I would have green tea and vanilla soft serve swirl ice cream almost every day-- whenever I saw it I would get it! In Japan they also have amazing flavours like black sesame soft serve, purple taro soft serve... This place in New York Momofuku makes crazy flavours too-- I've never been there but I'd like to try! There are some reviews on the ice cream here and here.

Basically whenever there is a chance to get soft serve, I will try it. I've had ice milk soft serve, high butterfat soft serve, soft serve that tastes like plastic, frozen yogurt soft serve of many different brands from different shops... soft serve sandwiched between chocolate cookies as an ice cream sandwich... It always looks like magic to me. That hum of the compressor and the motor, a pull of a handle and the smooth pouring out of white billowing fancy swirls of ice cream... Wonderful! When there is a choice of twist, I usually get vanilla. Vanilla gets a harsh rap for being boring... No way! Delish! Unless it's green tea on the other side, in which case I get swirl.

Today I got the pleasure of a real live soft serve ice cream demonstration, at a food machinery sales demo kitchen located in Port Coquitlam! Deep fryers, milkshake machines, hot holding display cases, slushie machines, the test kitchen looked like a little mini mart. Yes, I got lost on the way there, and I got lost on the way home, but my excitement kept my mood high! My new friends Sam and LK (see below!) walked me through the process of how a soft serve ice cream machine works... I even got to pump a few of my own, and try their "Razzle" maker too, which is essentially how you make a Dairy Queen blizzard. FUN!

Sam and LK also answered all of my queries, such as:

"What on earth is behind those handles that you pull down when you make the soft serve?"
Behind the handles are these little party chambers that are like big long frozen tubes. Above is a pic of the handles removed, revealing the inside. The turning mechanism attachment (as seen above, partially pulled out of the chamber) scrapes off the perfect amount of ice cream from the sides of the frozen tubes and pumps it out into a beautiful ice cream swirl. Apparently Taylor soft serve machines are the only ones with a fully frozen chamber using liquid technology; other machines use a frozen "coil" technology.

"How do you get the ice cream mix all up in there??"
On top of the machines are chambers called "hoppers". Basically where you pour your ice cream mix, which is then covered with a lid. The hoppers have a tiny hole in which a stick is inserted into it with an even TINIER hole. The mix seeps through the tiny hole, and when you pull down the lever, the right amount of mix gets sucked into the hole, to then get frozen in the frozen tube, which then billows out onto your cone. This is where you would pour in test batches of your own flavour creations: I want to try making some delighftul new flavours! Of course green tea, as I LOVE green tea soft serve, but also raspberry, caramel, etc... The key to the soft serve is texture, and my pal LK said it's tricky getting the right homemade formula. But I am gonna try!

"Can I try this thing??"
Yes, most certainly!!
Wheeee!! So fun!! My dream job!!!

My haphazard soft serve ice cream pile!

My ice cream... so fun!!!

I drove home with a whole lot of information about soft serve machines: water cooled vs. air cooled, the importance of servicing these puppies, how to replace parts, how to wash the parts, and an operating manual and a spec sheet for a specific Taylor Soft Serve ice cream machine, as well as my little ice cream cup. YAY! Now I know how these crazy machines work!! Too fun...

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Welcome To The Saanich Fair!

Rich admiring a very decadent pair of fur pants

Pickle on a stick!

I ate this. Guilty. Bratwurst.

Me and Candyland!

Did you know soft serve ice cream is like my most favourite thing??

Saanich Fair Kid's Cake Decorating Competition!

Saanich is in Victoria BC, which is on Vancouver Island. There are lots of farms in Saanich-- corn, tomatoes, blueberries, pumpkins... last weekend, with my in-laws, we hit up the old Saanich Fair, in its 142nd year of country fair party-times. A really amazing fair with lots of community groups running fundraising foodbooths, live animals of every kind (good GOD turkeys are unbelievable looking!! All that hanging sagging brightly colored bumpy skin and Elizabethan collar-ish rounds and rounds of stark feathers!) My favourite part was the children's barn, where everything was made by kids! So wholesome, so cute! So amazing. Sewing, crafts, cake baking, pie baking, cake decorating, art... children should absolutely be immersed in learning things other than sitting in front of a computer or video game console! Get them to bake a pie! These kids did it with no fear!!

The theme for this year's fair, BTW, was "How The West Was Fun". Welcome to Canada everybody.

I bet even a KID made this sign!! Go kid!

The cake decorating competition!! By KIDS!

10 to 12 year olds. You can picture these young gals being so stoked...

Second place in the cookie contest!! It doesn't make dimensional sense but who cares!! It's a watermelon slice sugar cookie, made by a KID!

Mexican cowboy? Third place ribbon!! Those fingers got a bit toasty but it's tough to evenly bake when you have tiny parts such as those cowboy fingers. Black licorice rope!! By a KID!!

Turd pile cake! With straw, dirt and plastic flies!! This won first place blue ribbon!!

This is darn cute. By a KID!

This is cool too. How the west was fun!! Get it?? Reese's Pieces accoutrements!

This one was feeling the literal and figurative burn of the hot lights and the being-out-all-day situation. Little Miss Lady riding a cake buggy! Great work, KID!

Shoestring potato chips as hay, Sesame Snaps as snacks... Dyed coconut flakes as grass... KID!!

So, so awesome!!!! I just want to high five them all!

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