If you thought ice cream season went out the door with warm weather, think again: The right flavor can provide the perfect complement to everything from pumpkin pie to potato latkes, and the holiday lead-up, according to at least one producer we spoke with earlier this year, is one of the busiest times of year for frozen dairy. So pick up a pint of Phin & Phebes vanilla cinnamon and bring it to your next holiday dinner party instead of the usual cheap bottle of wine — you’ll be the most popular guest at the table.
Vanilla cinnamon not exciting enough? The Brooklyn-based ice cream duo (who made our list of the 10 best ice creams in NYC earlier this year) has more to offer than just the one inspired flavor. Along with dairy sourced from nearby farms, only the purest ingredients and flavorings make it into pints, which come in varieties like Vietnamese iced coffee (described by GQ as “transcendent“), Southern-inspired coconut key lime, and our personal favorite, peanutty pretzel, among other creative concoctions.
Crista Freeman (Phin) and Jessica Eddy (Phebes) have been making ice cream since 2010, when they began selling at local fairs. By the following December, they were quitting their jobs, ready to dig in full-time. Soon they were adjusting their homemade recipes to make shelf-stable grocery store sellable pints. “December 2011 was when we sold our first pint of ice cream, but we were only in like five stores,” Freeman says. “I really don’t count us really as going into business until 2012.”
But even though their business has grown — they now sell all over New York City as well as in far-off lands like Alabama, Indiana, and New Jersey — their basic methods have by and large stayed the same, and every flavor still begins its life in their own home kitchen, as a collaboration between the two business and romantic partners. “The business is our baby,” Freeman says, and each pint is the result of collaboration. “Jess will come up with an ingredient she wants to use, and I’ll come up with the flavor.”
Once they’ve perfected the recipe, they scale up by manufacturing at a Massachusetts ice cream co-packing plant. Though they began their large-scale production at an upstate New York facility, they quickly outgrew its capacity. “We’re actually probably going to outgrow [the Massachusetts facility] this coming year as well,” Freeman says.
Their company’s growth, though, hasn’t forced them to compromise on their values. They still shun the stabilizers and emulsifiers found in typical ice creams and want to make their products with a “really clean label.” The goal, Freeman says, is “to bring good ice cream back to the public.” They want the world to know that, “Ice cream can taste really good and be made of good ingredients and also be fun and not taken too seriously.”
The resultant pints? Very, very seriously good. Check Whole Foods and other local markets for a taste.