Even though I have an abnormal attraction to all ice cream — even the icky stuff you buy from gas station freezers — I consider myself a keen judge of superpremium varieties. I look for purity of flavor, freshness of cream, and enough butterfat to provide luxury without adipose overload. Well-crafted toppings, toasted nuts, pure whipped cream, and extraordinary cones all add to the pleasure.
On every count, Pumphouse Creamery wins my unbridled admiration. Using cream and milk from a farm in Osceola, Wisconsin, and such other impeccable ingredients as Door County cherries, organic berries, and locally-baked cakes and cookies, this little storefront delivers monumental satisfaction without the least bit of grandiosity. The place itself is nothing more than a narrow storefront — more ice cream kitchen than serving area — with a single large table up front and a bench and a few seats out on the sidewalk.
Nor is what’s served here flamboyant or affected. This is not children’s ice cream; it is ice cream for adults, neither insanely rich nor supersweet, made in a quiet rainbow of subdued natural colors. House-made cones are modest fellows, crisp and tasty; and the scoops that get put on top of them (or in a cup) are not silly-large. Order a sundae — one scoop or two — and it comes in a rinky-dink little plastic cup.
But a few licks quickly tells a tale of distinction: banana ice cream sings of fresh bananas; coconut ice cream is genuinely tropical and studded with almonds and large cocoa-charged chocolate chips; caramel ice cream is laced with crunchy praline pecans; cherry ice cream is made with real Door County sour cherries that are stunningly offset by their creamy medium. And oh, the sauces, especially a marvelous butterscotch sauce that is as buttery as it is sweet. And thick whipped cream (from that Wisconsin farm). And chunky ginger molasses cookies to sandwich banana ice cream. And, and, and… Ok, I will shut up now, except to say that if you like ice cream even half as much as I, do yourself a favor and visit Pumphouse Creamery.