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New flavor of community support: Bristol company expands ice cream CSA

BRISTOL — Eliza La Rocca has always loved ice cream.
“I actually went through a period from elementary school to middle school where I was sort of obsessed with it,” said the ice cream impresaria half of Bristol’s Farmhouse Chocolates and Ice Cream. “Wherever we’d go, I’d immediately point out ‘Oh, there’s an ice cream shop … and there’s another.’”
A stint in Italy leading food tours got her hooked on “the clean and bold” flavors Italians bring to gelato.
“That’s what I try to bring to my ice cream,” said La Rocca. “I want you to taste interesting and pure flavors. But that said, I do mix it up and get a little crazy. I’m planning on making a peanut butter bacon ice cream this summer. I want people to have fun with it.”
Farmhouse is making it easier for locals to get in on the fun by expanding its ice cream CSI — it’s like a CSA (Community-Supported Agriculture) offering in which a farm sells what it has just harvested, but the “I” is for ice cream. Like the chocolates part of the business, Farmhouse’s ice cream has been sold mostly through the Burlington Farmers’ Market and other larger farmers’ markets. Since expanding into a commercial space on Mountain View Terrace last July, La Rocca and husband Erlé LaBounty, head Farmhouse chocolatier, have also begun selling chocolates through various retailers. This July they’ll begin wholesaling ice cream as well.
La Rocca hopes that expanding the CSI will also get more cones of ice cream into the hands of their neighbors.
“We live and work in Bristol. But people in our own town all the time are like ‘Are you new? I’ve never heard of you!’ We’re a really well kept secret,” she said.
La Rocca focuses on local and organic ingredients, sourcing milk from Ferrisburgh’s Kimball Brook Farm, cream from Weybridge’s Monument Farms Dairy, Bee Happy honey from Starksboro, and looking for local fruits and herbs as they ripen seasonally.
For this week’s flavors — Fresh Mint Chip, Honeyed Rhubarb, and Salted Burnt Caramel — she’s just spent days processing fresh ingredients: steeping fresh mint, stewing fresh rhubarb. LaBounty has cooked up an intensely irresistible batch of dark caramel.
Other possible flavors to come include Persian Vanilla (with cardamom and rose water), Maple Ginger, Sweet Corn and Lavender, Really Rich Chocolate, Raspberry-Grapefruit Orange Blossom sorbet.
For the 2017 CSI, she plans to offer seven to 10 flavors each month, including an ice cream and sorbet for vegans. The CSI will run June through December with pickups once a month out of the Bristol production facility.
Good ice cream, La Rocca believes, “should sort of ground you and transport you at the same time. It’s not supposed to be like the rest of your day. It’s supposed to be special.”
Asked why she thinks ice cream has become such a professional passion, La Rocca hits on what any kid with a cone in their hand can tell you on a hot summer’s day.
“When you eat ice cream, it gives you license to let go of everything else. You just get a pause, you get a break from worrying, from reality.
“When you’re eating an ice cream cone, nothing else matters.”
For more information, go to farmhousechocolate.com.
Reporter Gaen Murphree is reached at gaenm@addisonindependent.com.
   ELIZA LA ROCCA is the ice cream maker at Farmhouse Chocolates and Ice Cream in Bristol. The company, which uses mostly local and organic ingredients, offers a community-supported ice cream (CSI) program between June and December.
 
Independent photo/Trent Campbell

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