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Mary’s Center’s Taste of Adams Morgan: Meet Nicecream

by Antonio Caro

Sandra Tran and Gil Welsford (pictured above), owners of Nicecream, bring an innovative twist to traditional ice cream making. Their commimtent to community and creativity makes the Nicecream team an exciting addition to Mary's Center's 7th Annual Taste of Adams Morgan.

On the corner of 18th and Columbia Road, stands a not-your-average ice cream shop. Think of unique flavor combinations paired with a refreshing sense of honest joy. As you walk into this inconspicuous shop, you are welcomed by Nicecream’s clean and modern design with touches of teal, orange, and a magnet wall ready to bring the inner child out of any busy DC resident.

The business of happiness.  

Started by college sweethearts, Gil Welsford and Sandra Tran, Nicecream deals in the business of happiness. Their mission—to create a culture of joy by revolutionizing the ice cream eating experience with fresh ingredients and an innovative twist. The twist? All locally sourced ingredients are churned in seconds with liquid nitrogen.

Best of all, Gil and Sandra embody the community spirit that Adams Morgan and Mary’s Center are all about. This year, Nicecream will be one of 27 local restaurants offering bite-sized portions to ticketholders during Mary’s Center’s 7th Annual Taste of Adams Morgan. On June 4th from 5-9pm, Taste of Adams Morgan will showcase the neighborhood’s diverse culinary scene while raising the funds needed to provide access to healthcare, education, workforce development, and social service programs to over 53,000 individuals served by Mary’s Center.

In celebration and preparation for the event, we sat down for a quick Q&A with Gil and Sandra to get their story, learn about their rich and flavorful ice cream, and find out why they support Mary’s Center.

Q: Tell me about the Nicecream story. How did you start?

Sandra: Nicecream started seven years ago in my mom’s kitchen. Gil and I would get together on weekends and try adventurous recipes. I would focus on desserts and Gil would plan what to make for lunch or dinner. One weekend, he came over and said, “You can make your ice cream recipes a lot quicker using liquid nitrogen.” So, we Googled around, found some liquid nitrogen, and started experimenting. We were captivated by the process and the quality of ice cream coming out. Pretty soon after our first batch, we realized we were onto something. After some trial and error in molecular gastronomy, the idea of Nicecream was born.

Gil: The ice cream produced by this new process tasted better and fresher compared to any store-bought brand! By combining local grass-fed cream with local ingredients from nearby farms and flash freezing it with liquid nitrogen, we started making an incredible product that was super dense and super creamy.

Q: How does making ice cream with liquid nitrogen compare to the traditional ice cream making process?

Sandra: Traditional ice cream making happens in an ice cream making machine. Think a bigger version of a Cuisinart Ice Cream Maker. You add milk, cream, and sugar into this machine and let it churn. As it mixes, air builds into the ice cream giving it that traditional fluffiness. Once the mixture is churned, it’s put into the freezer to solidify as ice cream. In short, you’re mixing everything for about an hour, building a lot of air into your ice cream, placing it in the freezer for up to 8 to 12 hours, and thus creating a lot of large ice crystals.

Gil: Compared to our process, we make our ice cream within 45 seconds. We churn our ice cream between 15 to 25 seconds, so it incorporates little air; thereby, creating a much denser, creamier product. When we flash freeze our mixture with liquid nitrogen, our ice cream crystals are much smaller – hence the creamier texture. We like to think that we have found the best way to make the best ice cream anyone has ever had.

Q: You take pride in using fresh, local ingredients. Tell me more about them. Where do you get them from?

Sandra: We started serving our ice cream in farmers markets. At the markets, we would go to other vendors and farmers and ask to try their fresh fruits in exchange for some of our ice cream. From there, we built close relationships and formed a community of locally-based vendors.

Gil: What’s cool is that we’ve seen the effect of our business growth on our partnering farmers. Our farmers are now planting more crops because of the increase in our revenue. Supporting Nicecream is supporting the larger local farming community.

Q: Let’s switch to the eclectic menu. You have everything from honey lavender to Nutella flavored ice cream. What are the most popular items on your menu?

Sandra: It’s a tie between the Salted Caramel—sea salt with caramel made in-house—and our Purely Pistachio—pistachios ground up with a little bit of oil to make a nut butter, which makes a sweet and savory ice cream.

Q: How about your personal favorite?

Gil: Definitely the Pistachio.

Sandra: I love our brown sugar baked pear flavor. We oven bake our cut fresh cut pears covered with butter and brown sugar, puree them, and add them into the ice cream mixture. The flavor is only available in the fall.

Q: Where do you see Nicecream 10 or 20 years from now?

Gil and Sandra: We don’t know! What we do know is that we want to make life-long customers and continue making life-long experiences.

Q: What value do you see in Taste of Adams Morgan? Why do you choose to participate?

Sandra: The greatest thing about food festivals is community. We are so busy as a body of humans in DC, so being able to provide an opportunity for people to go outside, walk around with their children, and spend dedicated time to just eating together is very special. Being a part of the Taste of Adams Morgan is cool and we’re excited to make memories for a lot of people.   

Gil: When you get a bunch of foodies together it’s an incredible vibe. Plus, we are happy to help our local community health center, Mary’s Center, which has been an integral part of the Adams Morgan community for years.


At Mary's Center we are all about community and supporting neighbors and locals, so we were so excited for Nicecream’s participation in Taste of Adams Morgan. While Taste serves as a fundraiser for Mary’s Center, it is also a way for us to engage with the community in a different way than we normally do. We normally support others through our life-changing services, but we see ourselves as so much more than a list of services—we are a fixture in the community with a goal to holistically enrich the community.

We hope to see many of you at Taste of Adam’s Morgan on Tuesday, June 4th to try treats from many different local restaurants, including Nicecream!

So please, join us on this foodie adventure. Buy your Taste tickets today at www.tasteofadamsmorgan.com.

 

 

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