There is a new ice cream dream team in town. Charlotte and Marcus Adam of Forest & Wye ice cream company based in St Briavels mean business and they have the premium product to back up their ambitions.
Charlotte was, back in the day, a qualified librarian. Turns out that those librarians trained and qualified in the dark arts of book classification and stealthy movement in audibly neutral halls of knowledge and entertainment are, all of the time, hatching plots of a utopian nature. Well, they are if they are Charlotte Adams. She is one half of the new premium artisanal husband and wife ice cream dream team, behind the new Forest & Wye ice cream company.
As an enthusiastic amateur ice cream maker (and hearty consumer) the chance to visit the new Forest & Wye creamery, in the lovely village of St Briavels, was just too good an opportunity to pass up. Anyone who has ever made ice cream or gelato will know that the taste blows away any large brand offering no matter how fancy the box or slick the marketing. And that is kind of the problem. My own small versions, in varying degrees of delicious success, are doing well if they last in the freezer for more than a couple of days! But try and scale that process up for sale as a product and things begin to get tricky.
Enter then Charlotte and Marcus Adams. Well versed in this small scale purist production of, amongst other flavours – alcohol flavoured ices, for personal use only (honestly officer) who then decide to become “clean” ice cream makers, wherever possible shunning processed ingredients to deliver what is says on the tin. The clean food movement has somehow got lumbered with endorsements by “celebrities” (this apparently now passes for gainful employment) you may or may not have heard of. In addition it bears the weight of the most damaging of food marketing monikers – “trendy”. Clean Food has never meant anything other than just natural ingredients. The ethos of this embryonic company is seasonal, local, fresh, as clean as it can be. So, the logic goes, Rhubarb Crumble ice cream (and loads of other yummy non-alcoholic flavours) has only ice cream (milk, cream and eggs) and rhubarb crumble in it – easy. Anyone can pronounce all the ingredients.
But it turns out that there are many reasons to adulterate a product and one of them is to get over problems of upscaling manufacture. Want blackcurrant ice cream? Add a big shot of commercial blackcurrant syrup for instant and easy flavour enhancement. But what if you want to get really radical and just get all the flavour from real blackcurrants? I know, it’s a crazy idea isn’t it?
The impetus for turning passionate hobby into a cottage industry business was supercharged by friends who tasted Charlotte’s’ home-made alcoholic ice cream. Right after they’d asked for a second helping they implored her to make a business of it and presumably therefore to ensure a continuity of supply. Let’s remember the ethos, when Forest & Wye make alcoholic ice cream, like their supreme “Baileys and Kahlua” – Baileys “flavour” just doesn’t cut it. It has to have, erm Baileys and Kahlua in it. Not as easy as you might think given the well-known anti-freeze properties of alcohol. Why stop there? Let’s go with their Vanilla and Cognac or Coffee and Whiskey and – our absolute fave Amaretto – wait for it smooth creamy taste followed by the Amaretto taste which builds toward the end – Wow! All of this raises the tantalising notion of adults only ice cream parties all purchased from licensed premises – that’s right they have real booze in them and you need a licence to sell them!
Having spent the past 15 years living in St Briavels and raising their family of 3 kids, the two thought that now was the right time to launch their dream business. It’s not been easy though, having decided to go for it, their ideas of clean ice cream with only the freshest of whole ingredients therein proved to be a challenge. Everyone they met, they bought training or equipment from, in fact everyone told them you need to make commercial ice cream with emulsifiers, stabilisers and bla, bla, bla. There was a dark and heart breaking time for Charlotte when, already having trashed several full scale batches, she thought that it might be true and that they might have to consider the worst case scenario and go with the advice. But a golden coloured revelation came to them on a quiet St Briavels night. A natural golden, sticky solution. Known of for centuries, and incidentally something that has a shelf life measured in a atomic half-lives, – honey. Together with a little natural bean flour, hey presto! They had cracked it.
This is the first hurdle for most passions turned into businesses – where and how will you supersize your enthusiastic experimentation. With their eldest child now fourteen and the youngest pushing seven – playtime is over kids! The kids were evicted from their playroom and its transmogrification into modern creamery separated from the rest of domestic life began. Our exclusive peak into the creamery tells the story of the couples’ commitment. Fully kitted out with the latest brand new ice cream/gelato making equipment – no one could accuse them of “not going for it”, it’s organised, well laid out and tidy with a five star rating.
Starting a new businesses can be scary. Lots of money going out and a really frightening period when no money comes in – self-employment is not for the faint hearted. But for people who know what they want and know that they want to achieve it’s the only way. What you need now are customers! Deborah Flint, founder of The Pantry village shop (now in new hands, the shop previously featured in this magazine) and big supporter of quality local producers was the first to help out. She commissioned a blind tasting competition with other brands and Forest & Wye. Topping the taste test was a breeze and they were stocked! A local brewery used Forest & Wye products at one of its events but Charlotte and Marcus are looking for more outlets. For the time being, their footprint is limited to a 30 mile radius of the Gloucestershire border but that is bound to change as tasting pioneers spread the word.
The packaging, like the ice cream, is simple, brilliant and wholesome. A plain brown fully recyclable pot with a stylish card label and you can feel good about your carbon footprint while you tuck in too. So here they are with a great creamery set-up and all the vision, passion and knowledge that you can shake a stick at. They have a fantastic premium product packed with goodness from as close to the creamery as they can possibly manage.
Over to you outlets…….
The Pantry www.facebook.com/thepantrystbriavels/