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Valpo Velvet

Submitted by on February 4, 2012 – 12:43 amOne Comment

Special to Road Trips for Foodies
From Indiana Dunes Tourism

People who’ve traveled the world have told Cathy Brown there is no finer ice cream than the rich, creamy, old-fashioned kind that’s made and sold at Valpo Velvet ice cream shop at 55-57 West Monroe Street, Valparaiso, Indiana (map).

Brown, who spends her days dishing up sweet scoops of Valpo Velvet, said the secret to success is that the ice cream has been made the exact same way for 65 years, by three generations of Brown family members.

That means using expensive, top-of-the line vanilla when others are using imitation vanilla. It means saying no to ingredients with names too long to pronounce. And it means saying no to pumping the ice cream with air like some manufacturers do to make it more cheaply.

Although the five simple ingredients in the basic mix haven’t changed, unique new flavors have been added over the years.

“I just made up a flavor last year that’s turned out to be really popular. It’s chocolate-dipped strawberry. It’s great,” Brown said.

Another unique favorite is nutty monkey king, which features banana with peanut butter, peanut butter cups and peanuts. Other favorites include blue moon and, for kids, a creation called birthday cake which features cake batter flavored ice cream with confetti sprinkles.

Although Valpo Velvet makes 65 to 70 different flavors of ice cream, frozen yogurt, sherbet and sorbet, vanilla remains the most popular by far. Brown is partial to chocolate or cookies n’ cream.

Brown’s husband, Mike, and Mike’s brother, Mark, followed their father and grandfather in the ice cream business, and they work together to make Valpo Velvet and deliver it to stores and restaurants in Northwest Indiana and Chicago.

People can call ahead and set up a tour of the ice-cream-making area behind the ice cream shop and to hear how ice cream is made. The tours cost $4 per person, and each person on the tour gets to enjoy a scoop of their favorite flavor.

For tour attendees or shop customers who can’t decide which flavor to enjoy, there’s always the Valpo Velvet Viking, a $9 creation which features scoops of five different ice creams, five different toppings, whipped cream, nuts, bananas and cherries.

Oh, and don’t forget that the Valpo Velvet shop also serves gourmet soups and sandwiches that are all made from scratch. All the sandwiches feature bread from the Strongbow Inn bakery.

The specialty sandwich is the pig says moo, which is ham, cheddar and a fried egg served with horseradish mustard on pretzel bread.

“It’s probably the greatest sandwich ever,” Brown said.

Brown said running an ice cream shop is a fun business, because people come in happy and leave happy. She’s proud that people who taste Valpo Velvet for the first time at a festival or event often find the Valpo Velvet shop – you can’t miss it with the brightly-colored cows painted all over the exterior (not to mention to equally bright and cheery interior) – and become regular customers. And she said getting ice cream at Valpo Velvet is a family tradition for many.

“To have generations of families come here is rewarding,” Brown said. “That makes me pretty happy.”

Brown’s husband, Mike, joked that he he’s continued the family business because Valpo Velvet’s legion of fans would harm him if he ever stopped making it. Brown said she and Mike’s three teenage children all work at Valpo Velvet.

“Our kids enjoy working here and I’d like them to carry on Valpo Velvet because I haven’t found an equivalent I like as much,” she said.

(Photo courtesy of Valpo Velvet)

One response to “Valpo Velvet”

  1. […] Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailStumbleUponLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. By CB² • Posted in Uncategorized • Tagged ice cream, Indiana Dunes, northwest indiana, summer, Valpo Velvet Shoppe 0 […]

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