Pre-Orders the Ice Cream Travel Guide!

8 Jan

Get Ice Cream Travel Guide before everyone else!

Pre-Order Now!

Stories range from a dairy plant in Ohio to a seventh generation ice cream shop in Philadelphia. That’s only America. In Taiwan, a grandson runs the ice cream shop just like his grandfather long before him. In Turkey, an orphaned boy grows up to be a gelateria maestro by sneaking on a ship to Italy and bringing the craft back to the neighborhood where he grew up on the streets. These are the stories of real humans.

Over 50 color photos are included.

Included are 13 recipes from the 31 flavors project. Rewritten and updated. Remember that celery flavored ice cream? Yeah, I do. Or the dulce de leche from Argentina sprinkled with chocolate chips? It reminds me of walking through the streets of Buenos Aires in the summer of December. Or even the eucalyptus ice cream that was inspired by a forage theme party in San Francisco? The most insane, delicious ice cream ever.

The journey to publishing this book has been long and hard. Despite that, I have learned a lot about people, running an ice cream shops, and obviously making ice cream. I had set out on a journey to learn something new, but instead, I discovered what I was seeking was all here at the beginning.

What do I mean by that? There’s a little bit covered in the Ice Cream Travel Guide, but I am thinking about writing a memoir of my experiences. It wasn’t just eating ice cream and having fangirl moments with gelato maestros and ice cream makers. It was about finding why I was searching for an ice cream (perhaps a substitute for the happiness that I had lacked at the time). And that it’s the people—the ones who enjoy something as much I do—that matter the most. The ones who care to have a scoop with me.

So will you get a scoop with me?

Ice Cream Travel Guide

This is my daily life as a writer

4 Sep

You can feel the words clumsily staggering down the street, bumping nosily into garbage cans and street lamps with their too many adjectives, too many adverbs, and too many run-on sentences.

I took a short break to expand on a blog post originally on my (regularly updated) exclusive ice cream travel guide behind-the-scenes blog and came up with this.

Ice Cream Tips and Tricks

2 Aug

In conjunction with the California Milk Board, Resourceful Mommy, and Kristina Vanni, I developed a list of ice cream tips inspired by travel around the world!

Here’s a sampling:

  • Eat ice cream like a Sicilian. Dip warm brioche into fruit-flavored ice cream. Or better yet, make a brioche ice cream sandwich.
  • “Con panna?” is my favorite question asked in Italian gelato shops. Add whipped cream (“panna” in Italian) on top of ice cream.
  • Make halo halo like they do in the Philippines. Top vanilla ice cream with cornflakes, tapioca, and fresh tropical fruit.
  • Experience a Taiwanese night market w/ an ice cream burrito. In a crepe, roll scoops w/ fresh cilantro & peanut brittle shavings.
  • Be Argentine w/ dulce de leche. Can of condensed milk w/ water in pot. Boil for 90 min. Open, cool, and drizzle over ice cream
  • And now…experiencing ice cream elsewhere

    9 Jun

    Now that 31 flavors have been created, this blog will serve to follow iterations upon previous flavors and capture a few moments of the research of the Ice Cream Travel Guide.

    I am on my 5th week traveling through New York, Philadelphia, Delaware, Italy, and Turkey to gather research for the final section of the Ice Cream Travel Guide.

    Yesterday, someone asked in her Italian-accented English, “Why ice cream?”

    I smiled and mustered the little bit of Italian I knew, “Perché no?”

    Why not?

    Flavor #31: Horchata Ice Cream

    6 May

    Living in the Mission neighborhood in San Francisco, horchata ice cream or ricanelas ice cream from Bi-Rite Creamery is a no brainer.


    But you see, my 31st flavor, the final ice cream flavor to be created in one year is dedicated to my number one fan. The one fan that loved every ice cream flavor (except anything with ginger) regardless of whether it was too icy, too sweet, or too bland. To Chris who has supported the project in the 31 flavor incarnation and the ice cream travel guide from day one and was the inspiration for it all.

    Nearly seven years ago in 2006, we met through mutual friends at a quick stop at the taco trucks on International Blvd in Oakland. As I sat down on the sun worn plastic chairs with tacos and a drink, Chris said to me, “I always have horchata with my tacos.”

    I said, “Me too!”

    Horchata has always been a Mexican tradition, combining cinnamon, milk, and rice. Adding a cinnamon sugar cookie like a snickerdoodle makes perfect sense.


    At Bi-Rite Creamery years later, he always got the ricanelas ice cream. The one flavor with the unpronounceable name that scoopers wrote out the pronunciation for in English. Ree-can-ell-as or something similar. Like horchata, ricanelas is inspired by a cinnamon cookie from Mexico. At Bi-Rite, they use snickerdoodle cookies. When the flavor was not present, Chris pouted and resorted to whatever I chose.

    On horchata, Chris describes his love in practical terms, “Like I said, it’s both sweet and spicy. It has a cinnamon kick. Turns out that it has very high sugar content. Even the grittiness from the rice adds to the flavor. It makes it even better.”

    So I dedicate this flavor to you, Chris. Not because you would eat ice cream in bed all day. Whether it’s grocery store brand, the rocket shaped pops…or pint sized small batches. You’re the only one like me that can eat more than 5 scoops of ice cream per day. Thank you for being with me every step of the way.



    Adapted from Bi-Rite Creamery’s Sweet Cream Sugar Cones Cookbook and Bojon Gourmet


    At least 20 blanched almonds
    1/2 cup long grain rice
    1 cinnamon stick
    3 cups half and half
    1/2 cup sugar
    1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
    pinch of salt
    5 egg yolks
    1-2 snickerdoodle cookies (optional; if you want to make your own, use this recipe)


    To blanch the almonds (if you don’t buy them pre-blanched), place unpeeled almonds in a heatsafe bowl. Pour boiling water to barely cover the almonds. Let almonds sit for at most a minute. Drain and immediately rinse in cold water. Rinse one more time. Pat dry. The skins should slip right off.

    Combine the blanched almonds, rice, and cinnamon stick in a dry medium saucepan. Over medium heat, toast until fragrant, about a few minutes. Immediately pour in the half and half into the saucepan. Remove from heat when steaming. Steep for at least 30 minutes to infuse the half and half with the toasted almonds, rice, and cinnamon stick.

    Strain the horchata milk into a separate bowl, removing the almonds, rice, and cinnamon stick. In a clean medium saucepan, combine the horchata milk, sugar, ground cinnamon, and salt. Heat until steaming.

    In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks.

    Temper the egg yolks by pouring one cup at a time of the warmed horchata mixture into the bowl. Whisk the mixture after every cup until at least 1/4 cream mixture remains in the saucepan. Return the contents into the saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir frequently. The custard will thicken. Remove from heat when the mixture coats the back of a spoon.

    Chill for a few hours or overnight in the refrigerator. Churn in an ice cream maker based on the manufacturer’s instructions. Five minutes until the end of churning (or when it looks like it’s almost solid), add snickernoodle pieces.

    Serve as is or on top of a fresh snickerdoodle cookie.


    Special: Fresh Flavored Snow

    12 Apr

    Fresh snow! Flavored!!!

    Many ask me:

    How was ice cream invented?

    I start by gesturing mountains with wide arm swoops, then I reach high above my head with my right hand.

    Historians say that the Roman Emperor Nero sent his servants high in the mountains to retrieve fresh snow. Then they ran down to serve His Majesty the cold results, flavored with fruit or wine.


    As we headed to the snowy mountains this winter, I decided to be Emperor Nero. At least in eating snow. This time, retrieved with car. And with my own resources of a spoon and bowl.

    Without wine and fruit at my disposal, I found an alternative. On the night in Tahoe, three hours northeast of San Francisco, I found myself in grocery store buying a can of condensed milk. Now, buying a can opener would make complete sense.

    Yet my usual stinginess declared You can find a can opener on your own! Don’t even think of buying a $4 can opener. You have two at home!


    In the morning, we drove from restaurant to restaurant trying to borrow a can opener. Of course in modern times, restaurants don’t use can openers (bags save space and easily tear open). Finally landing at drugstore, a sympathetic cashier offered the can openers at the cashier where we quickly pierced the top without its contents.


    Later in the afternoon, I ran to a snow bank, dug to find untouched snow, hand-scooped it into a bowl, and doused the whole thing with condensed milk. Sweet, creamy, sticky, cold, smooth yet not quite smooth, like ice cream, but not ice cream. Standing outside of the resort where I had spent 5 hours skiing, I took a plastic (compostable) spoon, and mixed the milk and snow together. Each spoonful was a milky sweet cold delight, especially in the bright sunny day in the mountains.


    Did I follow Emperor Nero’s footsteps? I felt quite royal as I sat in the passenger seat of a 30 minute line of cars inching to exit the long road.




    Fresh clean snow, lots of it (recommended to catch during a snowfall than to dug it from the ground)
    One can of condensed milk
    Optional: additional flavoring such as vanilla extract, fruit, jam, etc.


    Scoop the snow into a bowl. Pour the entire contents of the condensed milk and optionally flavor over it. Mix gently to incorporate flavors. Eat quickly before the snow melts (although the melted liquid is quite tasty).


    Flavor #30: Green Tea Asian Pear Sorbet

    5 Apr

    “Asian pears!” my friend’s boyfriend declared.

    pears at the market

    While pondering what produce to buy for a flavor for a belated Chinese New Year dinner, I spotted my friend and her boyfriend roaming through the farmers market. I described my predicament. An Asian flavor that used local produce. So no mango, no dragonfruit, no longan, no guava (as I sadly discovered guava in the United States is no match for guava in Asia) and more. I was ready to return to the blood orange sorbet, which worked wonderfully for all my tasters. Yet, I kept coming across Asian pears. Growing up, my mom bought them and filled the kitchen. After a small lunch, she would carve them into small pieces and place them in a ceramic bowl with painted blue Oriental details.

    Read more…

    Flavor #29: Blood Orange Sorbet

    23 Mar

    Blood oranges, if they were only in season during Halloween, would have been perfect for my annual zombie book club meeting. Instead, I chose pomengranates to represent the bloodinness of that time of the year. But appropriately, a (belated) anti-Valentine’s day potluck theme for my writing workshop was swiftly suggested and the blood orange idea popped up in my head. What is more anti-valentine than blood oranges?

    To the uninitiated, the blood orange is a variety of orange that…just happens to have red streaks. The most common kind sold in the US is the Moro which is sweet…with a slight taste of raspberry.

    Blood oranges at shop


    Kickstarter successful!

    2 Mar

    Successful Ice Cream Travel Guide kickstarter!

    At 141% funded. $7098 raised. 138 backers.


    At 1:56 PM on that Monday, my last backer put in his amount. He enjoys being on top, so he got the wish.

    Honestly, the project has been a search for validation. Do people care about ice cream as much as I do? Do the people who journey far for ice cream really live out there? There are many times that I meet new people and as the words “ice cream travel guide” tumble out, I am often met with confused eyes. Some don’t really understand the words together and need some explanation. But others, mostly those satisfied with a stable job, ask…why?

    “Because I can!” I say.

    For the last several years after starting work in the real world, I felt like something was missing. I was working for the man (or sometimes the small man when at an agency), but no matter what, I was doing work for someone’s vision. Creating something that will be used by…people with money. At least someone with several hundred dollars that can be thrown around for fun. What about the moments of joy that cost only a few dollars? That’s where ice cream came in.

    Flavor #28: Eucalyptus Ice Cream

    25 Feb

    The challenge: Bring something with a foraged ingredient.
    My answer: Eucalyptus. Eucalyptus ice cream!

    Large sweeping decks, graced with fallen leaves from tall eucalyptus trees, filled up the backyard of a house in San Pablo. A house that my parents nicknamed the Silver house for the Silver family that stopped paying rent, destroyed the walls and carpet, and finally got evicted. I was only 6 or 7 at the time but I only remember the sweeping decks where my sister and I played while our parents dealt with the mess. The fog rolling across the bay. Was it San Francisco or Marin county? I am not sure, but I saw the water. And the scent of fallen eucalyptus leaves—a cool, calming smell in the midst of the fury and anger that my parents endured as landlords.

    fresh leaves

    Read more…