Despite the often cold climate, Seattleites eat an incredible amount of ice cream. And they’re willing to wait in long lines for the privilege. The neighborhood of Ballard is seeing a boom in frozen treats, with the likes of Full Tilt, D’Ambrosio Gelato, Cupcake Royale, and Molly Moon serving up scoops, while Top Pot sells pints. But the best ice cream in Ballard may belong to Parfait.
Adria Shimada started Parfait as a food truck in 2009, and her brick-and-mortar shop was a much anticipated and long awaited opening. The store is as cute as the truck, with a warm and welcoming counter and a glass-enclosed “workshop” behind it, as well as a small number of seats for those who choose to dine in. (There will also be an outdoor seating area when the warmer weather arrives.)
Shimada, who embarked on her business the same year that she had a baby, explained that “I want Parfait to be a family-friendly place, so I’ll be serving kid-sized portions of many products.” She added, “And I want the products to be healthy. I believe in honest ice cream that doesn’t have preservatives and stabilizers.”
Parfait is the only from-scratch, organic ice cream company in the area, using dairy, eggs, sugar, and produce from organic farms mostly situated within 150 miles of Seattle. The ice cream is a little lighter and less dense than others, but still with creamy texture and fresh flavors that taste real without being over-the-top. Mint is a good example, as Shimada grows herbs on-site, and the ice cream tastes far from artificial.
The scoop menu features classic flavors—including the signature Vanilla Bean and Decadent Chocolate—as well as specialty options. This winter’s seasonal scoops include Sugar Plum Armanac, Roasted Chestnut, and Orange Star Anise. The ice cream is made in small batches, so availability can change. Customers can buy pints to go, along with toppings like Parfait’s jars of Dark Chocolate and Vanilla Bean Caramel organic sauces.
Inspired by a period of study in France, Shimada uses French techniques in making her ice cream. She says her workshop (or “atelier,” as she calls it) is part creamery and part patisserie, enabling her to expand her ice cream offerings creatively to include profiteroles filled with ice cream, mini ice cream sandwiches, and ice cream cakes and pies. The decorative cones are also made in-house.
With her new place known as “Parfait Ice Cream Patisserie,” Shimada stressed that “There’s not an ampersand between ice cream and patisserie. I’m just making things that go well with ice cream.” Those patisserie items currently include cannelés, bouchons, and rugelach, and may expand to include madeleines, clafoutis, and tarte tatin.
Read on to see some of the treats and my thoughts on more of what’s happening at Parfait.
The decorative cones are made in-house at Parfait. In the background is Decadent Chocolate, and in the foreground is Orange Star Anise, with just a subtle hint of licorice-like notes. This is high-quality ice cream at $2.50 for a mini-scoop, $3.75 for a small scoop, and $5.00 for a double scoop, plus $1.00 for the option of a cone.
Adria Shimada attributes her quest for culinary quality and aesthetic to an academic year immersion at the University of Paris, which included a summer of assisting in the kitchen of an authentic farmstead near Toulouse.
These Meyer lemon Ice Cream Mini Pies ($4.75) have a brûléed meringue topping. I love the idea, though the flavor of the ice cream gets a little lost between the meringue and the butter graham crust.
The Bouchons ($1.75) were my favorite non-ice cream item. These little cakes, which truly resemble corks, are like a non-fudgy brownie, with little bits of chocolate inside. The dusting of powdered sugar adds a playful touch.
Keeping with the mini-theme, Parfait’s Canneles de Bordeaux ($2.00) are cutely petite. Good caramelization on the outside, but a little too too custardy on the inside.
I’m excited anytime I see rugelach anywhere, so I was thrilled to see that Parfait had Apricot Rugelach (3 for $1.00). Like the other items, they’re miniaturized, and I could have used a bigger bite so the apricot flavor came through.
Inside this showcase at Parfait are push up pops (in flavors like chocolate, Meyer lemon, and plum-apricot sorbet), ice cream sandwiches (flavors such as chocolate chip with vanilla bean, and brownie cookies with fleur de sel caramel), and pints of ice cream.
Stepping back from the showcase, you can see the “atelier” behind the counter.
Here’s a look at some of the ice cream flavors you might find at Parfait.
(Originally published at Serious Eats on January 21.)