When the weather gets hot we scream for ice cream! Up here in the northerly part of England, canny Northumberland, we can boast a wide array of award-winning, family-run ice cream selling businesses! These businesses sell traditional, as well as experimental offerings in keeping with artisan food movements.
Ice Cream Origins
Ice cream’s history dates back over 2,000 years ago in the Middle East. From the Middle East, it gained popularity with Greeks and Romans where it was popular among the ruling classes. Ice cream excitement didn’t take the European elite by storm until the Renaissance period in Italy, as a result of their trading links with the Orient. Ice cream has been seen in various guises. In China, it was a mixture of milk and rice frozen by snow. During the Roman empire, the rich enjoyed ice flavoured with honey.
There is great demand for changing tastes and flavours in the ice cream world. What was once seen as an occasional treat in the summer, and a regular on children’s menus, ice cream is becoming more sophisticated to accommodate adult palates. Ice cream makers are producing alcohol-infused concoctions, including mojito, which is the strongest alcoholic ice cream in the UK, and savoury flavours which include garlic, bacon and stilton. Floral flavours are tipped to be big in 2018, as botanical extracts in vogue as a result of the popularity with gin.
Lick Up the Facts
- First ice cream cone invented 1904 at World’s Fair in St. Louis.
- The USA is the largest producer and consumer of ice cream in the world: 48 pints eaten a year per person.
- Sunday is the most popular day to buy ice cream.
- Ice cream sales generate about £1bn for UK economy – as an affordable family treat.
- Ice cream includes gelato, sorbet, fruit ices and frozen yoghurt.
- In the UK, we eat on average 15 pints of ice cream a year per person.
- In 1881, ice cream sundaes were created when it became illegal to sell ice cream with soda on a Sunday in America. They replaced the y with an e.
- It takes on average 50 licks to finish an ice cream.
Ice cream makers in Northumberland
Located on the seafront of Blyth beach is Ciccarello, the traditional Italian Gelateria. This family-run business has been going for decades and has won several awards at the National Ice Cream Awards. Ciccarello proudly states they make and sell authentic Italian gelato – not ice cream. Gelato is creamier, smoother and denser. It uses more milk and less cream, as a result, the flavours are more prominent. This is helped by its slightly higher serving temperature, between 10 – 15 degrees. See if you can taste the difference.
Arrighi’s is a family run business with an impressive 90-year history. The ice cream is only available in their cafes. They have 14 flavours appearing on a rota basis ranging from rum and raisin, cherry to the traditional Italian favourite stracciatella; a vanilla flavoured gelato with chocolate shavings. They also make ice cream cakes as a great alternative for celebrations.
Located in the Glendale Valley, Doddington farm are famous for their cheese, ice cream and yoghurt products. Their ice cream was launched during the summer 2000. They take inspiration from local surroundings and collaborate with other local businesses to create interesting flavours. Check out the regional flavours such as Alnwick Rum Truffle and Heather Honey from Chain Bridge Honey Farm.
Morwick Dairy Farm has been in the hands of the Howie family for 6 generations. From their award winning herd, they sell raw milk as well as ice cream. The ice cream parlour was opened in April in 2003 and is open 7 days a week during the holiday season. Morwick Dairy has made 160 ice cream flavours to date. A trip to the ice cream parlour and the children’s playground make it a lovely afternoon out.
Opened in August 2010, Spurelli Ice Cream Boutique has won many gold stars from the great taste awards. They have an emphasis on using and supporting local food producers, for instance, they use milk from Marley Cote Walls Farm in Hexham. They were voted best ice cream parlour in the UK in 2014. One of the most popular flavours is Sicilian Pistachio, which also won a Golden Fork for best speciality food from the North of England in Taste Awards 2011.
Wheelbirks has been a family run farm since 1925. Their ice cream making process happens all on the farm; you can even meet the cows after sampling the ice cream delights as the farm is open to the public. They have a play area, a cafe and a shop. The ice cream parlour launched in 2002. Made using milk from their 120-strong herd, and the oldest pedigree Jersey herd in Northumberland, the ice cream flavours are always changing. The flavours vary from traditional chocolate to wild cherry and even garlic and balsamic vinegar has been made in the past. Make sure you go say hi to the cows!
Ice cream can be a treat for all seasons to be enjoyed anytime, any place. There’s ice cream shops on beach fronts, on farms or take a tub home to enjoy in the garden or on the sofa. There’s a flavour for every mood so get your ice cream fix in Northumberland! The North-East has such a wide offering and each venue has their own story.