Even though Penelope Ryholt is a professional pastry chef, at night she dreams of even sweeter things. In a light pink chef's coat that accentuates her auburn hair and ivory skin, Ryholt says: "I use to lay in bed at night and dream of the kind of ice cream I wanted but couldn't find, so I decided to start making my own."
Ryholt, whose regular gig is baker at State and Allen, soon started churning her ice cream dreams into indulgent reality. At first it was just small, personal batches, but on a visit to Urban Acres she realized the local grocery store was the perfect place for her product.
"I walked in there one day," Ryholt says, "and started talking to them about my ice cream. They really encouraged me to do this."
With a place to put her ice cream besides her own fridge, Ryholt got more serious about the venture and started her own company, Pearl Brand Artisanal Ice Cream. She also found a steady supply of fresh, local organic milk, which serves as the base for her products.
Ryholt drove to east of the metroplex to meet with Kent and Ramy Jisha, who own Texas Daily Harvest, a certified organic dairy farm. Their full fat, non-homogenized milk is cooked at lower temperatures, which Ryholt explains helps preserve the creamy, natural flavor. The ice cream doesn't contain any eggs, only organic milk and cream, creating a rich and pure flavor.
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Right now Urban Acres is stocked with Double Chocolate, Early Grey (my favorite of the four I tried), Strawberry Lavender Sorbet and Tahitian Vanilla. Pearl Brand Artisanal Ice Cream can also be found on the menu at State and Allen, which allows her to test different flavors -- for better or worse.
"Goat cheese with beets and orange was a total bomb," Ryholt says, laughing.
Ryholt may eventually sell through other local grocery stores, but she insists on keeping her product artisanal, meaning she won't send away the recipe for it to be made at a large industrial site. She's also keeping an eye out for local chefs who can incorporate her flavors into creative dessert plates.