Glass Bottle Creamery: New Kid on the Island

Vashon Island is my home away from home. Since my first visit in 2008, Vashon has occupied a special place in my heart. My in-laws own a small house overlooking Puget Sound, and K grew up spending weekends, holidays, and big chunks of summer vacation on the island. It usually takes about an hour to travel from downtown Seattle to the island, but you’re ultimately at the mercy of the ferry schedule. It can be a hassle getting here, but I promise you that your blood pressure will drop the moment you arrive on the island. Vashon feels like another world; a bit rural, with its plentiful livestock and very few chain stores (not even a Starbucks!). Vashon has a reputation for being quite hippie and alternative, but with an old-fashioned sense of community and hospitality.

K’s friend recently got married in Seattle, and we decided to spend the night before the wedding on Vashon. We headed there straight from the airport and made pretty good time. Hungry after our cross-country travels, we stopped for a late brunch of chilaquiles and salad at The Hardware Store Restaurant. The restaurant is located “downtown”, which is where the grocery store, pharmacy, and other restaurants are located. We ran a few errands before heading to the house, although the last errand wasn’t an errand at all: swinging by the Glass Bottle Creamery.

There are a couple spots to grab ice cream on Vashon, but no shops specifically dedicated to ice cream. There’s an ice cream counter at the front of the grocery store and at the back of the Vashon Island Coffee Roastery. While the ice cream is good, it just doesn’t feel super special. But a couple years ago, the talented Samantha Weigand moved from Washington, DC to Vashon Island to open a bakery. That next summer, K and I asked Samantha to bake our wedding cakes. She outdid herself, producing two amazing cakes. One vanilla cake with passion-fruit curd and buttercream and one gluten-free chocolate cake with coconut frosting. Both were surprisingly delicious, and the cakes were completely demolished by the end of our wedding night.

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After slowly building quite a following through her bakery, Samantha decided to expand and bought a small storefront downtown. She opened Glass Bottle Creamery, selling high-quality, local dairy products and homemade ice cream! While it’s been open for about a year, I had yet to try the ice cream. The lines were always long, or I was too full after lunch or dinner downtown, so the stars never aligned for me. But on this rainy Saturday afternoon, the shop looked warm and inviting and I had room in my tummy for dessert.

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Like the bakery, Glass Bottle Creamery is decorated in soft baby blues, whites, and pops of pink. There’s two big glass refrigerators — one stocked with ice cream sandwiches, cakes, and pints, and the other with milk, yogurts and cheeses.

Keeping with its minimalist vibe, there are just a few flavors posted on the wall — but they all sounded lovely. There were even a couple dairy-free options for the vegan and lactose-intolerant crowd. While the Toasted Coconut and Peanut Butter Cup definitely piqued my interest, I decided to keep things interesting with Peach Cardamom.

As someone who avoids gluten, I’ve always appreciated the diverse and delicious gluten-free options at Samantha’s bakery. She continues this tradition at Glass Bottle Creamery, noting gluten-free flavors and also offering gluten-free cones for a small $0.50 surcharge. I asked for one scoop of Peach Cardamom in a gluten-free cone, and the friendly young woman behind the counter asked me if I wanted a cake cone or a waffle cone. I can’t remember the last time I had a GF cone that wasn’t a cake one, so I was incredibly excited for this waffle cone. It set me back around five dollars.

img_0739The verdict? This ice cream fulfilled a craving I didn’t even know I had — a craving for sweet, creamy ice cream in a crisp homemade waffle cone. The ice cream was served at the perfect temperature for me, frozen solid and just soft enough to get a good lick. I was glad that the Peach Cardamom was light on the cardamom spice (which I often find overpowering). The peach flavor was delicate yet distinct, and there was no weird fake aftertaste. What really took this ice cream over the top was the CONE. Oh my goodness, it was delicious enough to eat on its own. It was crisp, textured, and a bit sugary… almost like those Italian “pizzelle” cookies.  I have high expectations for anything Samantha makes, and she appears to really have outdone herself with Glass Bottle Creamery.

The Stats:
Glass Bottle Creamery
17637 Vashon Highway SW
Vashon, WA 98070

Frozen Yogurt’s Best Friend = Fran’s Caramel Sauce

Salted caramels. Candy-lovers across the country are praising the new salty/sweet trend.

Who started this salt + caramel craze? Many people point to Seattle’s premier chocolatier, Fran Bigelow, who has been pairing salt and caramel for years. Fran’s Chocolates gained notoriety in the other Washington (DC) thanks to President Obama, who is a big fan of Fran’s smoked salted caramels in milk chocolate. This signature Seattle confection is now being replicated by candy companies across the country. Even Trader Joe’s is getting in on the action.

I blame my constant cravings for Fran’s salted caramels on my boyfriend’s mother – who may just be a bigger chocolate fan than me (is that even possible?). The salt + caramel combo just didn’t call my name – until she bought me a fancy box of Fran’s smoked salt caramels in dark chocolate for Christmas. It was all over then. You simply can’t find fault with Fran’s salted caramels. The caramel is rich, buttery, and chewy. The dark chocolate is decadent – in that distinct “I know this isn’t Hershey’s” way. The sprinkle of premium smoked salt brings out the sweet in both. Hook, line, and sinker.

Last weekend, my boyfriend’s mother did it again:

Fran’s Classic Caramel Sauce

I knew this spelled trouble. My boyfriend’s mom is a whiz at frozen yogurt making in her Cuisinart, so she whipped some up using Greek Gods Honey Yogurt and a couple giant spoonfuls of Fran’s Classic Caramel Sauce.

But she wasn’t done yet. After 20 minutes of churning, she spooned frozen yogurt into bowls and topped them with generous globs of Fran’s Caramel and a sprinkle of sea salt. Fran would be proud.

Worthy of a President

The verdict? Fran’s Classic Caramel Sauce is thick, slightly grainy, and a bit chewy. It comes out easily from the jar but isn’t too runny (i.e. can be eaten by the spoonful straight from the jar!). The sweetly decadent caramel fills me with nostalgia – memories of making caramel apples in my parents’ kitchen. I’m already imagining different ways I can put Fran’s sauce to use. Any ideas would be appreciated in the Comments section 🙂

The Stats:
Fran’s Chocolates
Retail stores in Downtown Seattle, University Village and Bellevue 
You can purchase Fran’s Classic Caramel Sauce online here.