Thursday, Aug. 2, 2007

Mount Rainier shop offers ice cream with twist

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Brenda Ahearn⁄The Gazette
Pancita Brydson dresses up colorful cones of mango, mint chocolate chip, pineapple and strawberry at her Mount Rainier shop.
You’ll find cool treats and a warm greeting when you step into Pancita Brydson’s Mount Rainier ice cream shop. Two years ago, Brydson, who has been in the U.S. for 25 years, turned fond memories from her childhood in Jamaica into a community-friendly business.

Her father made ice cream as a hobby, using an old-fashioned ice cream maker. Friends would come by and have a turn at cranking the ice cream they’d later enjoy. As an adult, Brydson picked up her father’s hobby.

She says that her father’s method does make good ice cream, but she uses more modern equipment.

Besides the family history and making ice cream as a hobby, Brydson’s main motivation for opening an ice cream shop was the product itself.

‘‘I’m an ice cream lover,” she said. ‘‘I always want good-tasting ice cream.”

She took classes to turn this hobby into a business. At conventions for ice cream makers, Brydson picks up the latest industry innovations, such as the drip guards that keep hands and her floor free from dripping ice cream.

A child size scoop of ice cream is $1.75, while single and double scoops are $2.20 and $3.60. Brydson also makes banana splits ($5.99) and milkshakes ($5.99-$6.99).

In addition to ice cream, she sells snacks, beef patties, Jamaican sodas including Ting and ginger beer, along with her homemade pound cake.

The ice cream is organic, sweetened with sugar cane, and made with ingredients from the organic grocery store just down the road. You can find Island Style ice cream at this and other area organic food stores.

There are 22 flavors in rotation, including: Banana, Cookies and Cream, Jamaica Me Nuts (four kinds of nuts and marshmallows), Mango, French Almond and Stout. She also makes Rum & Raisin and Grape Nuts, two flavors that are wildly popular in Jamaica. Grape Nuts? Yes, vanilla ice cream with grape nuts mixed in is an island favorite.

Brydson is continually experimenting and thinking up new flavors. She already has non-dairy versions of two flavors (vanilla and strawberry) and is working on making all of her ice cream available in non-dairy versions that are made with soy.

When someone asks to sample the Soursop ice cream, she wonders if they are aware of its origin. As she shows a picture of the tropical fruit, another customer joins in to sing its praises and detail other uses for soursop.

Brydson is more than willing to let customers taste test any flavors, old or new.

‘‘The product is very good. I got introduced to Reggae Ginger today. I love Butter Pecan, but Reggae Ginger is real good,” said Conrad Seymour of Montgomery County.

Karen Hertzler, who lives in the area, stopped in because friends were coming over and she ‘‘wanted something good”, so she went to Island Style to by a few pints ($4.25 each) in different flavors.

Brydson chose Mt. Rainier because she believes in the area’s potential and says the people are wonderful. She and other business owners are working to keep revenue in the area. Island Style accepts Anacostia Hours, a local currency.

‘‘I don’t live here anymore, but she’s still my neighbor,” said Todd Robinson, who came in with a friend to say hello. He is a big fan of Soursop, but was persuaded to try Reggae Ginger. Robinson gave the newer flavor the thumbs up, but said is still loyal to Soursop.

‘‘I only eat ice cream from here. There’s something about it.”