A summer without ice cream? That’d be like pizza without the cheese, or marzipan without the almonds. As it happens, the temperatures these last few days have been so high that an ice cream would be a welcome way of cooling down. So where are the best places in Bremen to get your hands on an icy treat? I can think of a few off the top of my head. And so I set off to visit them.
When I started my tour of Bremen’s ice cream scene two weeks ago, summer still seemed some a long way off. It’s a measly 16 degrees centigrade as I step into Die Eismacher, an ice cream parlour in Buntentorsteinweg. „Well, you seem to have brought the winter with you,“ says owner Guido Casutt as a welcome. At least the sun is shining. On hot summer days the place is packed by noon at the latest, Mr Casutt tells me. So I’ve come at the right time: while it’s quiet I can ask a load of questions and try some of his yummy ice cream.
This is one of the oldest locations in Bremen for selling ice cream, Mr Casutt tells me. In the 1970s there was an ice cream parlour just a few houses up. The corner house with the number 246 has been a parlour for almost 20 years, and Mr Casutt took it over many years ago.
As I step behind the counter to take some photos of the ice creams, he points to a large mixer set into the worktop. „This is one of the few built-in whipped ice cream machines around,“ he says proudly. Normally, these machines can only be found at fairs, he adds. And the taste of the creamy white ice cream does in fact remind me a bit of a fairground. The chocolate sprinkles on top, the sweet cream, the cone – they all remind me of my childhood and of a time when I was excited about going to the fair.
Everything made in store
Die Eismacher make their own ice creams on site. Every day you can find up to thirty different flavours on display. These range from old favourites such as vanilla and chocolate, to more exotic flavours such as lemon and basil, yoghurt and cucumber, and mascarpone and peanut. The sauces, including chocolate and caramel, are all made on site. Even the egg liqueur – delicious poured over a nut sundae – is home made. Mr Casutt offers apprenticeships in ice cream making, passing on his wealth of knowledge to the next generation. And it would be a shame, I think to myself as I leave, if all those delicious recipes were to be lost.
It’s all in the name: the team at Eislabor, German for ice cream laboratory, are up for any flavour experiment. And I find that out for myself when I visit their main shop on Am Schwarzen Meer. Hardly any of the 16 flavours are what you would call run-of-the-mill. Buttermilk is probably the most everyday option. The unusual flavours on sale today include Campari and orange, ginger and orange, date, and sugar beet.
The flavours change daily, and the ice cream is always made on the day. „In total, we have sold more than 550 flavours,“ owner Damir Birač tells me. He opened his first parlour in the district of Peterswerder eight years ago, and recently opened a second shop in the Steintor quarter.
Eislabor is renowned not just for its unusual flavours, but also for its use of natural ingredients and for the wide range of vegan and lactose-free ice creams on offer. So I give every flavour on display a go (every customer can ask to do so) and discover that sugar beet isn’t really my thing. All the other flavours are certainly more up my street, and there’s a veritable explosion on my tongue. The range of taste sensations goes from fizzy to creamy and ends with refreshingly fruity. Yummy. I finally settle on a scoop of Campari and orange and enjoy it outside in the sun on one of the colourful benches.
Bremen’s ice cream scene
Bremen has quite a few ice cream parlours. They can be found across the city, from Walle to Hemelingen and from Blockland to Huchting. I could happily spend all day working my way through their chilled offerings, and I’m sure I would still discover one or two exotic delights. There are also several places in the city centre where you can buy ice cream over the counter. On Stavendamm street in the Schnoor quarter I try a scoop of stracciatella. As I wander through the narrow lanes the creamy treat almost melts away, so I quickly lick it up and revel in its decadence. All the while, my musical subconscious quietly hums the tune of a hip-hop song from the 1990s: „Ice, Ice, Baby.“