Blank Slate Creamery
Super natural ice cream
by M.B. Lewis
From the July, 2015 issue
Blank Slate Creamery marks its first anniversary in early July with reasons to celebrate--like frequent lines out the door for little scoops of its distinctive deep-freeze creations. Could this spell the end of turnover at the northwest corner of W. Liberty and First, whose parade of enterprises has included hydroponic suppliers, Obama campaign HQ, furniture dealers, and the vehicle pileup staged for the 2009 movie Youth in Revolt?
These days, the spiffed-up cottage-like storefront is staffed by friendly young scooper-servers with feed store-style pink-logo caps. There's a fresh-baked aroma of almond-flavored waffle cones, free with your ice cream. A good thing about crowded nights, when the server manning the waffle press is struggling to keep up, is that your super-creamy salty caramel or cherry vanilla may be melting at its edges into the still-warm cone. Simply luscious. The only thing better would be a stellar house-made meringue-like brownie still gooey inside, separated from rich hot fudge sauce and whipped cream by three scoops of whatever flavors of ice cream seem least resistible at the moment. Oh, yeah, they have that too.
There's no place at Blank Slate for Superman's scary red, blue, and yellow ice cream. Blank Slate's natural ingredients (local when possible) exclude additives like food dyes. Only a couple of strong colors appear in the twenty-some tubs: the midnight brown of a rich bittersweet chocolate and the nearly neon fuchsia for the fruit-packing, lip-smacking raspberry sorbet.
The rest of the standard lineup is a color study in the spectrum of beige, from its most tan (scrumptious coffee cream studded with tiny grounds of Mighty Good dark roast) to barely green (mint, with garden-picked leaves). In the center of the beige universe are two vanillas: Tahitian with rum undertones or Madagascar with a bourbon edge. You really can taste the difference between them.
The spirit of innovation here is expressed in changing flavors like roasted banana, avocado-lime, maple-syrupy "blueberry pancake," and butternut squash in the fall. As if fresh
basil ice cream weren't already botanical bliss, ask for a drizzle of lemony olive oil, which helps the basil flavor gently ripen. Pair it with a scoop of subtle balsamic strawberry, and you have a sweet salad of tastes. Wolverine Tracks, whose name resonates locally, uses chopped-up high-end Justin's organic peanut butter cups.
Hormone-free Guernsey Farms milk and cream (from Northville) join cane sugar as the main ingredients in the Blank Slate ice cream base. Eggs as a natural thickener mean all batches go through a pasteurizer, except the vegan sorbets. I'm no food scientist, but after a half-dozen visits I noticed that every flavor of Blank Slate ice cream that I sampled went down smoothly and settled well. I think the natural ingredients play a part.
A couple areas for potential improvement include the hard little chocolate chips in mint and other flavors that still seem waxy and short on taste. And some of the pretzel pieces went mushy in the chocolate-covered pretzel with caramel swirl.
Blank Slate is the creation of Dexterite Janice Sigler, who runs it with help from her friends and family--including her young adult kids. As such, it stands as a sweet success story that every person of a certain age can flaunt in the face of doubters. She ditched a desk job and built a livelihood around pure love for good ice cream and local food. May the force be with her.
Blank Slate Creamery
300 W. Liberty
Cones, cups, and sundaes $3.25-$7.
Mon.-Thurs. 3 p.m.-10 p.m., Fri. 3 p.m.-11 p.m., Sat. noon-11 p.m., Sun. noon-10 p.m.
[Originally published in July, 2015.]
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