Our laundry room houses an ice cream machine graveyard. Sometimes when I go in to the there to take out the trash, or to wash a new load, I get sad looking at them. Even guilty at times when I realize I cannot even remember what flavor they were churning before their motors seized, failing to keep up with our rigorous, unrealistic demands. Three in total, all of their motors broken, having churned their last batch at the crazed hands of compulsive ice cream eaters. I suppose thats not entirely true. We weren't compulsive eaters of ice cream, just makers. It became very clear from early on in the obsession that it was less about eating the ice cream and more about making it. There was always a new flavor to try. A new technique. A little less sugar. A little more cream. Our freezer shelves representing a seemingly ill-prepared war-rationing stockpile, nothing more than rows of white pint containers full of every ice cream flavor under the sun. Out came the frozen veggie burgers, the peas, the ice cube trays, and in went the ice cream, the yogurt, the sherbet, the sorbet. I began to think that breaking the machine was part of the process, as if it represented a tally mark in our efforts to produce and master the perfect spoonful of ice cream. And that was what it was about, that first spoonful (or, if you're Evan, that first lick off the paddle) of fresh, homemade ice cream. In fact, it wasn't until we went through three, and finally decided to purchase a commercial quality machine that the obsession subsided. It was as if this commercial machine was the culminating result of all of those tally marks, proving that at last we deserved to buy ourselves a nicer, higher quality machine. The Cuisinart changed the way we did ice cream. No more rock salt. No more ice. No more freezing the inside container for 24 hours prior to churning. No, the Cuisinart arrived in our kitchen and it said, "just plug me in, fill me up, and turn me on." Our search was over. We finally found the machine that outlasted all others; there was no reason to test its capabilities because it was obvious from the very first batch it churned. The result: Perfect peanut-butter chocolate chip ice cream. We became satisfied. Satiated. We stopped making ice cream...until now.
Yesterday we received a call from Roadway Freight Handlers. They were calling to schedule a drop off time for the cafe's brand new ice cream machine, fresh off the boat from Italy. We didn't know what was stranger: the idea of a gigantic Roadway truck cruising down our tiny neighborhood street, or that we could expect a beautiful Lello Musso Fiume imported from Italy to be dropped off at our front door. The Roadway operator informed us that our 150 LB package would be arriving today, July 25th, anywhere during the time-slot of 12pm-5pm. We are frantic with anticipation. The driver comes promptly at 2:37pm. The truck makes its presence known from a mile away, noisily chugging its way up N. Lombard before turning left onto our street. Before he even has a chance to pull the parking break we are out the front door, gliding off the front porch, and attempting to open the back of his truck.
I leap and bound back to the house to get the door for Evan and the driver. We decide that right in the center of the livingroom is best. Like kids on Christmas morning we tear open the box. At this point I think I'm a little sweaty and I'm sure that I'm starting to understand how Joel must've felt when his cargo bike arrived. The machine itself is too heavy for me to help Evan lift out of the box, so we resort to a rusty box cutter. Haphazardly slicing each side of the box, we remove the styrofoam from from it's edges, rip the plastic away from its body, and cautiously, oh-so-carefully, slide the machine away from its former encasing to reveal: All stainless (no, NOT aluminum). 3.5 quarts. Half the time of the Cuisinart.
Dare I say perfect?
We immediately take pictures with our cellphone and send them to friends (yes, they do think we're strange but gratefully they've gotten used to such behavior). We call family. 45 minutes later Evan's sister, Jamie, is at our front door with fresh ice cream makings.
So alas, we are back at making ice cream and very interested in taking requests. While we are fully aware that some people's window for ice cream eating is limited to the summer months, Evan and I happen to be in the boat of year-round ice cream supporters. That being said, our goal at the cafe is to produce the highest quality, freshest tasting ice cream thats ever touched your lips. We plug the machine in, turn to the stove, and begin to create the custard for the beginnings of homemade coconut ice cream. The obsession has been revived, stirred from its slumber. As the motor starts to warm up and the paddle begins to turn I cannot help but want to shout from the top of my lungs a war cry, "Hello Portland, Oregon!!! Please allow us to introduce ourselves. We are Little Red Bike Cafe, Portland's first micro-creamery!!!" Please, please, please let us know how we can best suit your needs.
P.S. And for those of you who were worried, no, we have not replaced our "little" Cuisinart. This commercial machine will serve us faithfully at home while its larger, higher capacity counterpart will remain at the cafe.
Posted by Ali and Evan at 9:31 PM