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St. Michaels icon serving up new artisanal ice cream

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ST. MICHAELS, Md. - Justine's Ice Cream Parlour is mixing old traditions with new flavours with the help of new small-batch, artisanal ice cream.

The recipes come from the handiwork of 20-year-old Tyler Heim, the general manager of Justine's who recently completed an ice cream making course at Penn State University, and is mixing up fresh, local ingredients in the ice cream to satisfy anyone's sweet tooth.

Heim, who has been working in ice cream parlours since he was 13 and described himself as always being an "ice cream parlour kind of guy," said instructors at Penn State really pushed for buying ice cream mix from a manufacturer.

"I figured, why can't I just make my own mix?" Heim said. "I don't want guar gum in my ice cream. I don't want high fructose corn syrup. I want cane sugar, and I want fresh heavy cream, fresh milk."

It's a food science, as opposed to a culinary art, Heim said, and it's all about composition, which he said is something he learned at Penn State.

"We have a secret ingredient that helps our texture become what it is, and that secret ingredient is booze. There's a little bit of Sailor Jerry in there. It really takes it to the next level," Heim said, who added that all the alcohol ends up being cooked out by the time the final product is ready.

"What it does is it affects the freezing temperature, so when your freezing temperature is a little bit below what it should be, it gives it that soft, really emulsified, nice taste to it."

Justine's is now making a french-style ice cream with a cr�me anglaise base. Heim said Justine's has three or four flavours right now, including strawberry cheesecake and raspberry Oreo, which he said is selling faster than the normal ice cream Justine's uses, Jack & Jill.

"When people tell me my ice cream is better, I don't think they understand what they're doing for me," Heim said. "That is the biggest favour, the biggest push for me."

Other spring flavours include coffee toffee, which uses roasted coffee beans from Rise Up Coffee in Easton, chocolate chip cookie, cocoa dream, New Hampshire Maple, which uses maple syrup from Olivin's in St. Michaels, and a gollywobbler sorbet, which uses sweet blackberry wine from the St. Michaels Winery.

The spring flavours will be sold both at Justine's, 106 N. Talbot St., St. Michaels, and from Justine's ice cream cart at various farmer's markets and events in the area during the summer.

Besides what can be bought locally, Heim said he and his team at Justine's make everything else that goes into the ice cream from scratch, except for the Oreos, and each flavour is done one batch at a time.

Justine's reopened for the spring in about mid-March.

Heim said that his aunt, Kathy Lash, who is the third owner, bought the business about three years ago from the second owners and worked to return it to what it was originally known for as an icon of St. Michaels — a friendly atmosphere with a wall of milkshakes and "awesome combinations."

With the help of the original owner, Tom Quimby, they worked to restore Justine's to its original state, and Quimby trained Heim how to run the business.

"Our whole motto here is you can do whatever you want. Our wall of shakes is a guideline," Heim said. "If you want to have a sorbet shake with cookies and cream in it, we're not going to stop you. You can do whatever you want."

But, Heim said this whole venture couldn't have been accomplished without the rest of his team, including sous-chef Stormi Coram and assistant manager Francis Malzone.

What's more, Heim, who has lived in St. Michaels his whole life, said Justine's couldn't have done it without those in the community, too.

"I really do it for the smiles," Heim said. "Nobody comes into Justine's unhappy, and especially nobody leaves unhappy."

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Information from: The Star Democrat of Easton, Md., http://www.stardem.com

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