During a family visit to upstate New York, we decided to hunt down some peppermint ice cream. Not a laborious task, one would think, but after coming up short in three Northeastern states, hope faded quickly.
Back home in Seattle, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this was a localized abnormality. Peppermint ice cream is a classic; an evergreen; a piece of Americana. Yet, in the year of the Lord, 2021, it was nowhere to be found. Instead, French vanilla was the seasonal pick, bafflingly enough: Show me anyone who says French vanilla isn’t a summer flavor, and I’ll show you a… well, not a fool, but someone who doesn’t appreciate the finer points of seasonal ice cream.
Seattle, as it is, didn’t deliver, either, but an extensive local search brought us to Vashon, an island accessible by a twenty-minute ferry ride. It’s the home of Glass Bottle, a “distinctive and bold” creamery that prides itself on its rotating selection of ice cream. A twenty-minute ferry ride to try its touted peppermint flavor? That, to me, is a reasonable endeavor for anyone who appreciates the finer things in life.
Vashon is an elusive island. The inhabitants may vocally oppose building a bridge to the island, but they do so while holding a cup of locally roasted coffee. Or, an ice cream cone from their much-lauded creamery.
Now, peppermint is generally not my first choice in ice cream flavors. I don’t have any particular beef with it, but it tends to be a bit too dominant for my liking. At this point, though, the primary goal was to actually find the ice cream more so than tasting it. The latter would be a bonus, and as Vashon is a lovely island by any measure, the odds of a wasted trip would be negligible. And, as it would turn out, Glass Bottle’s ice cream was easily worth a ferry trip, even during the blustery winter season.
It comes down to the basics: The creamery has a restrained approach to flavors, balancing the cream-to-peppermint ratio just so. The ice cream itself—churned with milk, eggs, and cream from Smith Brothers Farms—hits the sweet spot with a consistency hard enough not to quickly melt yet soft enough not to require much of a bite.
It’s simple ice cream, which is what ice cream should be. Not to scorn Ben & Jerry’s, but their kitchen-sink approach can be a bit much at times.
I still cannot figure why we couldn’t track down peppermint ice cream from any larger creameries, but ultimately it doesn’t matter—it pushed us to find one of the better ice creams I have tried in recent years. That Vashon Island was quite the worthy destination itself didn’t hurt either.