Friday, December 24, 2010

Ice cream company takes on Christmas flavour

Ice cream company takes on Christmas flavourIce cream might be a New Zealand dessert staple, but Wanaka manufacturer Richard Bullock has found there is always appetite for more. A year ago, he and wife Tracey launched their artisan brand, Pure New Zealand Ice Cream, and they are now happily up to their eyeballs in sweet frozen goods. Mr Bullock has just released two new flavours - Christmas ice cream and coconut cream gelato - and earlier this year narrowly missed out on three medals at the New Zealand Ice Cream Awards.

"[Making ice cream] is something I've always known I wanted to do since my early 20s. Not long before I met Tracey [in the 1980s], I knew that it would be ice cream. "It was simmering away in the back of my head," he said. According to the New Zealand Ice Cream Manufacturers' Association website, New Zealanders are among the largest per capita consumers of ice cream in the world, with each of us taking on board between 22 and 23 litres a year.

While the top three flavours around the world are vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, hokey pokey is second in New Zealand, after vanilla and before chocolate and strawberry. Mr Bullock, working on his own from a rented commercial kitchen, has contributed several tonnes of ice cream this year to New Zealand's ice cream mountain range.

He qualified as a chef in Wellington in the mid-'70s before furthering his career in Australia and the United Kingdom. He met his wife in Sydney, and the couple have owned several restaurants. They have two daughters, Tess (18) and Lara (16), who are happy to help with flavour research and development. The Bullocks found their first churn, an Italian Carpigiani, lying in the dirt under a building in Sydney. They cleaned it up and went on to produce thousands of litres of ice cream and sorbet for their restaurants.

When they moved to Wanaka in 2004, the machine came with them. They have since imported a new Frigomat artisan ice cream churn from Italy. Mr Bullock says the ice cream industry is competitive and more consumers are turning to artisan products, which keeps him busy developing new flavours. At least 12 are available through the Wanaka and Arrowtown retailers, while others have been developed exclusively for restaurants. New Zealand products are used wherever possible and Hawea honey ice cream is a product with a local twist.

Some flavours - such as roasted black sesame seed and chilli, or kaffir lime and ginger - are unexpected. The Christmas ice cream was developed two weeks ago from a recipe Mr Bullock invented many years ago. It does not have Christmas cake or pudding crumbled into it, like some other products he has tasted, but uses ingredients common to cakes and puddings.

Cream, milk, egg yolks and sugar form the base, with almonds, brown sugar, dried fruit, mixed peel, glace ginger and spices providing the Christmas flavour. A year after launching his business, Mr Bullock is thrilled with the support from Wanaka and Queenstown restaurants and hotels, and delighted the Wanaka Mediterranean Market is selling about 30 litres a day.

He also sells through Cook's Store and Deli in Arrowtown and, with the support of distributor BIDvest, hopes to continue growing the Dunedin and Central Otago market before moving into the North Island market in two years.


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