On a sunny day in the Puget Sound area, when the omnipresent lure of anything outside physical walls seems to charm us all, and your allergies don’t seem that bad, and even the birds seem to stay up late to cherish the last remaining hues of the sun, there’s only one thing that can make the day even sweeter — ice cream.
Although we’ve only had a few of these treasured days this year, any of the delicious ice cream options below will make for a great treat when the next one finds us.
Quintessentially Seattle pints at Bigfoot Long’s
Check Bigfoot Long’s Instagram for pop-up times and locations within Seattle.
It’s a special feeling when you’ve discovered a gem that shouldn’t be so hidden. Bigfoot Long’s, a hot dog and ice cream pop-up run by owner, chef and artist Geofrey Redd (“I’m literally my only employee,” he admits), is one of those gems.
There is something quintessentially Seattle about Bigfoot Long’s — it could be the menu illustrations reminiscent of those found on the boxes of Pagliacci Pizza or the cans of Great Notion beer, it could be the chunks of mix-ins from local sweet shops like Bakery Nouveau and Lowrider Cookie Co. … either way, it hits you right in the heart.
Bigfoot (wherever it is out there) and the pandemic (which can stay far, far away) can be thanked for inspiring Redd to add ice cream to his pop-up menu of specialty dogs like the Seattle Sasquatch and shareable Friendship Frank. Fascinated by Bigfoot for as long as he can remember, Redd says the 1987 cult classic movie “Harry and the Hendersons,” featuring our star Sasquatch, inspired his first ice cream flavor two years ago: Cherry and the Hendersons.
On today’s pop-up menu, you’ll find more puns, more Bigfoot and more flavors. With an Amish hand-crank ice cream maker, Redd literally handcrafts every batch of his three current pints — one batch makes about 12 pints and takes 20 minutes to hand crank in between huffing and puffing, making for a serious arm workout. He estimates he’s made “a couple thousand pints over the past year and a half, which I feel really proud of myself for.”
On the immediate “pop!” of peeling the lids away from the frozen pints, I saw a difference from the many-a-store-bought pints I’ve come across before. These pints look creamy, as if Redd had frozen batches of velvet frosting. The creaminess, partly thanks to the hand crank, is found in every pint, along with enough mix-ins for each bite to have a cookie chunk here or a pretzel bit there.
If you’ve ever had peanut butter fudge (or any fudge, really), you’ll recognize the similarities with Bigfoot & Yeti Trax ($10) — it’s rich yet palatable, peanut butter-forward yet caramelly, thick and delicate all at once. Swirls of meringue somehow manage to defy frozen temperatures and remain silky and cloudlike, between chunks of white- and dark-chocolate-dipped peanut-butter pretzels that shatter once bitten.
For the next pint: honey latte ice cream with twice-baked almond croissant chunks from Bakery Nouveau. (I’ll wait here if you need to go back and read that again.) Yes, it’s real. And yes, it includes those notoriously delicious almond croissants. Buzzin Bigfoot Breakfast’s ($10) latte component takes main stage, but the addition of honey dulls the espresso’s bitterness, creating a balanced and subtly sweet base. Add in the almond croissant chunks, and the creamy coffee ice cream gets some added texture and cheers from all those who love Bakery Nouveau.
On Bigfoot Long’s Instagram, Redd describes Buzzin as a pint for tourists to get a taste of Seattle. “To me, nothing says Seattle like a twice-baked almond croissant from Bakery Nouveau and a cup of coffee on a fall day. Even better, finding a nice spot in the Arboretum with someone special,” he says.
The best way to describe Bigfoot’s Birthday Bash ($10) is a frozen tub of cream cheese frosting — a delightful muted sweetness and so incredibly thick it lingers in your mouth before eventually melting away. This pint comes with chunks of Low Rider Cookie Company’s birthday cookie, and it felt like a celebration to eat.
Redd is intentional about sourcing his mix-ins from fellow Seattle food businesses, and he finds constant inspiration from working with other chefs, he says. He made it a personal goal to be “moving and bossing up this year, but I’m also going to try to boost my friends up in ways, too.”
Past pints include eggnog ice cream with vanilla cardamom shortbread, gingerbread and orange crinkle cookies, and cherry ice cream with cherries, brownies and swirls of rum caramel. (I’ll stop now before I tempt us all too far.)
The label of each of Redd’s pints doubles as stickers, a nod to his passion for art. Redd has worn a lot of hats throughout his career, including author, yarn artist and dishwasher to Frankie & Jo’s ice cream shop (where he learned a lot about ice cream production, he says), to now crafting his Seattle- and Sasquatch-inspired eats at Bigfoot Long’s.
But above all, with a degree in graphic design, he wants “to make an impact on the culture of Seattle,” he says, “which is what I’ve been trying to do since I’ve been here artistically … visual arts has always been the way for me to connect with people.”
The fanciest ice cream dishes around at FogRose
5:30-11 p.m. Thursday-Friday, noon-4 p.m. and 5:30-11 p.m. Friday-Sunday; 10606 N.E. Second St., Bellevue; 425-223-5879; fogrose.com
For dessert lovers, friends of dessert lovers or those going on a date with a dessert lover, Bellevue’s FogRose is the place to go.
This charmingly intimate atelier takes going out for ice cream to a whole ‘nother level. With seven dessert options to choose from, each paired with an ice cream churned with liquid nitrogen, I asked my server for some guidance.
Napoleon Meets Josephine ($12) is a personal favorite of my server, and it became one of mine, too. Countless layers of caramelized puff pastry come topped with banana cremeux (which can be best described as weightless banana clouds) and hazelnut chocolate cream. Heat-kissed brûléed bananas top the napoleon, and a side of chocolate ice cream and crumbly streusel take right stage.
The Mountains ($12) is the most popular sweet course. Three buoyant chocolate cakes come sandwiched between layers of moltenlike coffee ganache and sweetened condensed milk buttercream, each topped with peaks of fluffy toasted meringue. Vanilla ice cream scoops are nestled beside the mountainous cakes on beds of streusel and caramel drizzle. If you like chocolate, this dessert will be your friend.
When I asked which dessert is the most visually stunning, both my server and the pastry chef excitedly agreed on The Magic Flute ($18), which is like a fruity dance in your mouth. Pistachio sponge is stacked between alternating layers of zingy raspberry mousse and vanilla cream, all atop a bottom layer of texturally balancing pistachio crunch. Raspberry ice cream and kiwi coulis round out the fruit elements, and a meringue flute with shimmering gold dust is, fittingly, just the right magic touch.
Soft serve from Hokkaido, Japan, at Indigo Cow
3-9 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, 3-10 p.m. Friday, 1-10 p.m. Saturday and 1-9 p.m. Sunday; 1911 N. 45th St., Seattle; 206-769-1062; instagram.com/indigo_cow
There’s an island in Japan with snowy mountaintops and plush grassland where the cows roam free, and their milk, by result, is unbelievably creamy, smooth and carries natural hints of vanilla. This milk is the key ingredient in Hokkaido soft serve (known as “soft cream” in Japan), and if you want to try it, there’s only one place that makes it in the United States — Wallingford! (Yes, really. I’m not kidding!)
Indigo Cow, housed in 45th Street’s Japanese staple restaurant Yoroshiku, sources ingredients straight from Japan to make America’s only Hokkaido soft serve.
Hokkaido milk soft serve ($7.50) tastes like everything soft serve should be. It’s flirtatiously sweet, satisfyingly cool (but not cold enough to detect the familiar grain of ice crystals) and smooth enough that it coats your tongue before disappearing just as fast. With a topping of shiratama kuromitsu kinako ($2; chewy mochi balls with roasted soybean powder and brown sugar syrup), the hint of vanilla is amplified into a sugary delight.
The matcha soft serve ($8), Indigo Cow’s current monthly flavor, is bold in its earthy bitterness, and it reminds me of the explosion of matcha I tasted in Nana Green Tea’s matcha cream puff. I paired this cone with the Theo Chocolate wall ($1.50), which formed an instantaneous shield of fudgy armor around my soft serve.
I was in a sugar-fueled frenzy trying to keep my fingers free from the oncoming drips of extra-soft soft serve when I got to the last bites of each serving, where the tiny triangle of waffle cone turned into bite-sized well of sweet liquid. I ate both, entire pink waffle cones and all.
Spice it up at Spice Waala
5-9 p.m. Tuesday, 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday and 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. Friday-Saturday; 340 15th Ave. E., Suite 202, Seattle (Capitol Hill location) and 2008 N.W. 56th St., Seattle (Ballard location); 206-466-5195 (Capitol Hill location) and 206-457-8691 (Ballard location); spicewaala.com
At Spice Waala, ice cream’s typical varieties like chocolate or vanilla or even the occasional cookie dough are swapped for flavors inspired by India. Cardamom is blended with rose and pistachio and even coconut cardamom ($5.50), the rotating menu’s current flavor.
The cardamom in the coconut cardamom combo (try saying that three times fast) blossoms with each bite of the soft serve, growing strong but never overpowering. This flavor comes with a generous topping of coconut flakes on top, providing a nice crackle and crunch. Enjoy!