Thick clouds of liquid nitrogen escape under the glass barrier and spill over the sleek white counter at ice cream chain Creamistry’s newest location in downtown Palo Alto, at 164 University Ave. Children and adults alike watch the glorified KitchenAid mixers with glee, most having never experienced the thrill of made-to-order liquid nitrogen ice cream. The concept is remarkably simple: Choose your preferred size, decide on your milk base according to your ideal level of creaminess, then choose a flavor and watch your frozen treat come together right in front of your eyes.
The mesmerizing fog created in the production of this ice cream is enough to set Creamistry apart from your average ice cream parlor; not only because it is intriguing, but also because it gives the treat its unique texture, owner Penelope Zheng explains.
“[The ice cream] is very dense because there’s no oxygen in the ice cream, so if you taste it you will feel it’s … rich and creamy,” Zheng says. Beyond its smooth consistency, Creamistry is notable because it boasts a varied selection of powerful flavors. Classic choices like strawberry, chocolate and cookie dough are among the options, but more exotic flavors such as Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal, Thai tea and tiramisu are also offered.
One could argue that the market for ice cream in Palo Alto is already saturated, but it seems that somehow Creamistry has found room for itself here. Zheng states that this is because Creamistry provides options that other places do not.
“It’s [the ice cream is] made from scratch, and it’s not pre-made,” Zheng says. “Also, [it] gives vegans … choices.”
Creamistry may stand out from a product standpoint, but it seems to fit right into the Palo Alto price range when considering its exorbitant cost. With a single scoop marked at six dollars, and every add-on a dollar more, Creamistry’s pricing may be too much for some.
Just one of many cleverly titled “Creations,” the Elemint is flavorful and filling. Customers can watch as employees stack three scoops of freshly made mint ice cream atop one another and garnish them with mini chocolate chips and crushed Oreos. As a final touch, employees drizzle the treat with thick brown chocolate sauce.
Despite the beautiful presentation and freshness of the ice cream, one is left with a vaguely artificial aftertaste. According to Zheng, many flavors at Creamistry are made from fresh ingredients, however, there are a handful of others that are made using artificial flavoring and this is evident upon first bite of the Elemint.
A less extravagant and more economical option is the single scoop of Nutella ice cream made using the organic base ($0.75), a milk base designed to have the effect of creamier and fluffier ice cream. In contrast to the Elemint, the Nutella ice cream tastes fresh and elicits a feeling of eating Nutella straight out of the jar. The texture is consistent and smooth, and due to the lack of oxygen inside each serving, it doesn’t melt until the moment it reaches your tongue. Pay a dollar extra and your ice cream is paired with a warm, aromatic waffle cone. From the corner of the bowl, the cone hugs the ice cream, and when the two are combined for a bite of cream and crunch, one can taste the freshness of both components.
For the adventurous, try the affogato — rich and creamy vanilla ice cream submerged in warm coffee, topped with a mountain of whipped cream and dotted with milk chocolate curls. Reminiscent of a rootbeer float for grown-ups, the flavors of the affogato mix but don’t blend, allowing customers to decipher the components of the treat without becoming lost in the combination of tastes. Plus, eating a treat with a fancy-sounding name out of a quaint plastic cappuccino mug, consumers feel more like they’re at a hipster Italian coffee shop than an ice cream store in Palo Alto. On top of that, the affogato, having both warm and cold components, provides the perfect compromise for those struggling with inconsistent weather. A great choice for the coffee lover, the ice cream lover and everything in between.