Four words: St. Louis’ first microcreamery. The concept is so trendy that “microcreamery” isn’t even recognized by Microsoft Word. Basically, it’s a microbrewery (think Morgan Street Brewery or 4 Hands Brewing Company) for ice cream, and Tamara Keefe is using hers to stock her new ice cream shop, Clementine’s Naughty and Nice Creamery, in Lafayette Square.
The idea is handcrafted ice cream with 100% all-natural ingredients (actually the only all-natural ice cream in the state of Missouri…woah) in two general categories: naughty and nice. The naughty flavors are infused with various alcoholic beverages from local breweries and distilleries like Perennial Artisan Ale’s “17” mint chocolate stout and Still 630’s RallyPoint Rye Whiskey for an ice cream that tastes just like an Old Fashioned.
“I actually have a trade secret patent-pending process,” Keefe explains, “because I was able to figure out how to create alcoholic ice creams. I have a food science background and several friends in the industry who were able to help me initially through the process. The alcoholic potency and flavor in the naughty ice creams is actually strong enough that we have to card our guests.”
And the “nice” ice creams, fondly called “nice creams,” are no typical grocery store frozen dessert either—in flavors like Pistachio, Rose Water & Cardamom and Toffee Butter Brickle, each bite is a unique burst of flavor with that creamy texture you can only get from homemade.
Before this summer, the St. Louis ice cream scene was clearly lacking—a host of frozen yogurt shops and your occasional chain ice cream store, but nothing to call home about.
Keefe explains, “Basically I was like, ‘there’s this ice cream revolution going on all across the country, and we have this kickass food scene in St. Louis, but ice cream was totally missing.’”
In fact, it was St. Louis itself that led Keefe to open up the shop. She was transferred here from southern California while working for DuPont and was immediately hooked by St. Louis’ Midwestern charm (yeah, we were a bit surprised, too). Soon after moving, she quit her job to bring her lifelong appreciation for good ice cream to the city she’d come to know and love.
Keefe’s love for ice cream all started when her mother found an old ice cream maker for two dollars at a garage sale while the family was driving home from church one day. Soon enough, it became a weekly tradition for the family to crank out ice cream every Sunday after church—and it even caught on with other families in the community who started coming over for their own share of the homemade treat.
Keefe says, “Since then, ice cream has always been my hobby and my passion, and I’ve travelled around the world, always trying different ice creams and finding out how to make them. It was just something that was always innately with me.”
Although the shop opened May 16th, Clementine’s has been selling to various St. Louis restaurants like Olio and Pi Pizza and doing pint deliveries directly to customers’ homes since last year.
Interestingly, there are specific requirements for an ice cream factory to qualify as a microcreamery. Keefe shared a few with us:
- Must make fewer than 3,000 gallons per year
- Must use all-natural ingredients (no artificial stabilizers, fillers, sweeteners or flavors)
- Must use over 16% butterfat
- Must use less than 30% overrun (which refers to the amount of air that goes into the ice cream)
Fun fact: store bought ice cream has 100% overrun, which means that when you buy a pint of ice cream, you actually only get half a pint because it’s pumped with enough air to fill the pint-sized container. In comparison, Clementine’s ice cream is ridiculously creamy and dense.
All this talk about natural ice cream might sound like déjà vu, after Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream opened in Central West End in June. With Jeni’s and Clementine’s opening within just over a month of each other and just a few miles apart, the St. Louis ice cream scene is on its way to a full makeover.
Keefe speaks highly of Jeni’s, noting that Jeni herself was one of her inspirations. However, since Jeni’s has become a national company, with ice cream travelling from a central production plant in Ohio, it still can’t quite match Clementine’s local charm.
Keefe takes advantage of local resources, beyond getting her milk and cream from nearby dairy farmers who use only hormone- and RBST-free cows that are both grass-grazed and pasture-fed (AKA seriously all-natural). The coffee and gooey butter cake she uses in her espresso and gooey butter cake ice creams are from Park Avenue Coffee, just down the street, to name one example.
On her ice cream philosophy, Keefe says, “I knew if I was going to do ice cream, I was going to do it in the best, healthiest way possible, with only quality ingredients. I think it’s cool that I can bring something totally unique to St. Louis, as far as ice cream goes.”