Did you know?

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After last week’s blog about the start of the ice cream season and Geraldo’s 10th birthday I was sitting in my office this morning wondering what to write about next.  So I’ve decided to introduce a weekly (this may be wishful thinking on my part) blog called:

Did you know?

Haven’t a clue what its going to be about but I’m sure if I book myself in for a day spa at Cameron House this week the inspiration will come to me. (Now that’s definitely wishful thinking!)

Here goes for this week’s instalment…

Did you know that Monday is our usual day for stripping down our Mr Whippy ice cream machine?  The whole process takes about an hour or so, all the parts are sterilised and lubricated then the machine is filled again with fresh ice cream; Geraldo’s ice cream, of course, and we’re the only shop in Largs who puts fresh ice cream in our Mr Whippy machine.  Did you know it’s Gluten Free? And did you know we now have Gluten Free cones to serve it in?  Please tell your coeliac friends all about it and they’ll be your BFF!

 

Monday is also a day for stock orders and Bon Bons is usually first on my list.  Did you know we stock over 100 different flavours of traditional hand packed sweets from Bon Bons? They also supply us with their melt in the mouth fudge, giant chocolate slabs, gourmet mallows and gorgeous gift bags filled with retro sweets, cinder toffee and flying saucers.

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After a busy weekend with lots of visitors to Largs, did you know that the days following a busy period is when most small business owners like me start preparing for the next one?  After all the stock orders for the week ahead are done, there’s admin, banking, accounting, payroll, staff rotas, forward planning, website updates, marketing…..the list is long but if the business is going to be ready for the next instalment of good weather and lots of visitors, we have to be organised and prepared for it.

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Despite all of this, did you know Monday is my favourite day of the week?  I like it even more if I’ve had a busy weekend.  It’s a real shame for those of you who don’t enjoy, sorry LOVE, what you do, dread Monday mornings and the idea of going back to work.  For someone like me who, 15 years ago didn’t like the idea of starting a business in Largs one little bit, did you know I absolutely love it here.

Have a great week everyone and keep your fingers crossed for me that I manage that well-deserved spa day.  I’ll let you know next week!

Toni x

It’s Geraldo’s 10th birthday!

Year of Food and Drink 2015

Celebrating the Year of Scottish Food and Drink 2015

We’re already well into celebrating the Year of Food & Drink in Scotland and at the first sign of sunshine Largs is overflowing with day-trippers, tourists and residents of the surrounding areas making the most of the good weather.  Good weather brings lots of smiles to people’s faces and it also heralds the start of the ice cream season too.

Big smiles all round in Largs.

Big smiles all round in Largs.

With April being the month for award-winning foods we thought it was a perfect month to announce that Geraldo’s Ice Cream is celebrating  its 10th birthday this month.  There’s quite a story attached to how Geraldo’s began and you can read that here. We’ve picked up numerous awards over the years for our Classic Vanilla, Mint Choc Chip, Scottish Tablet, Gerry Berry and Natural Strawberry to name but a few but we have loads more flavours to choose from with 16 on the go at any one time.

10 years old this month!

10 years old this month!

My ice cream is made with Scottish milk and cream supplied to me by Mills Dairies in Largs and I use only the finest fruit purees and ripples.  It’s also Gluten Free and Sugar & Spice is the only ice cream shop in Largs to put fresh ice cream in our Mr Whippy machine too.

Fresh, gluten free ice cream in our Mr Whippy too!

Fresh, gluten free ice cream in our Mr Whippy too!

We’re open late every night until at least 9pm so if you’re in town or driving through, drop by and give us a visit.  If you’re on Facebook, why don’t you LIKE our page, CHECK IN if you’re in the shop and you can pick up TWO FREE TOPPINGS ON YOUR ICE CREAM.

LIKE and CHECK IN for 2 FREE TOPPINGS

LIKE and CHECK IN for 2 FREE TOPPINGS

Choose any 2!

Choose any 2!

Me and Mama Mia (Sweet Caroline) look forward to seeing you!

Toni x

Me and Sweet Caroline

The 2014 International Flying Dutchman World Championships are coming to Largs…

20140710-095829-35909775.jpg It’s bright and breezy out on the Firth of Clyde and Largs is sailing into the weekend with perfect conditions for hosting this world class event at Largs Yacht Haven organised by the SSI and Largs Sailing Club. Competitiors have arrived for the event with registration and the opening ceremony taking place this weekend. The fun starts on Monday, 14th when the first two races start and will continue right through to Saturday, 19th of July with the prize giving and closing ceremony. The sight of these spectacular 20-foot racing boats is one not to be missed so get yourself to Largs this week and don’t miss out. fd Worlds Meanwhile, at Sugar & Spice, we’ve developed a new flavour of Geraldo’s Ice Cream to welcome the competitors to the town centre. It’s our traditional Classic Vanilla recipe rippled with red and blue raspberry sauce and a sprinkling of blue sherbet pips and called, you guessed it: “The Flying Dutchman!” We’re flying the flag for Great Britain and hope that our British competitors enjoy some fantastic racing. 20140711-143334-52414467.jpg Incidentally, I just found out the Flying Dutchman is a legendary ghost ship that’s doomed to sail the oceans forever. Let’s just hope that all who sail in the event make it safely back to shore to enjoy the closing party celebrations.

Talking of celebrations, if you’re a whisky or whisky liqueur fan, Old Pulteney are one of the event sponsors. We’re offering 10% discount off Old Pulteney Stroma Liqueur during the Flying Dutchman event.

Have fun!

Toni

The story of Geraldo’s ice cream…

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My Dad, Gerald Dawson, aka Geraldo!

I guess most girls think of their Dad as handsome but I remember this picture in particular because I took it. He had a great sense of style, a fabulous smile and was always upbeat, outgoing and full of energy. That was before the recession of the 90’s kicked in and he lost everything, home included, after 35 years in business. My parents moved in with me and shortly afterwards he was diagnosed with bowel cancer. That was the beginning of a long hard struggle against ill health and trying to make a start again in business. Dad was absolutely determined to keep going no matter what.

I took the opportunity to start up myself in Largs operating a seasonal ice cream outlet near the CalMac ferry terminal. With a great deal of family support, Mum and Dad moved to Largs and whilst I accompanied Dad to hospital for ongoing treatment, Mum assisted me in the business. Two summer seasons later another shop came on the market directly opposite me. Dad was obviously feeling better around then and encouraged me to “go for it!”  After successfully securing the lease on the property, Sugar & Spice started up in March 2000.  With little more than a few £100 in cash to get going, I fitted out the shop with very basic kitchen units, hand painted them in bright candy pink stripes and tried to get really creative filling such a large space with well-packaged confectionery and holiday rock.

My Mum had always been in the ice cream business and started up ‘Caroline’s Ices’ in Ayr back in the early 60’s and I knew from the family’s previous business interests that I had to sell ice cream to make the business work long term.  Largs has a strong history of Italian ice cream families and the Nardini name is known all over the world.  Equipment is hugely expensive and there was no way I could afford to buy.  What chance did I have with so much going against me?  I decided to contact several suppliers to see who could loan me a display cabinet and supply me with good quality ice cream.  The Orkney Creamery was a family business like ours and their wonderfully creamy ice cream was just what I wanted.  It was a small cabinet to begin with, 8 flavours I recall, and situated inside the shop.  Knowing that ice cream is an impulse buy, I knew the cabinet had to be within eyesight of passing customers if it was going to work so after the first season I submitted a planning application to open up one of my front windows so that the ice cream could be served directly onto the street.  What a difference that made!  Three years on and the Orkney Creamery could no longer keep up with demand and they told me at the end of that summer they could no longer supply me.  It was a real blow at the time but sometimes you don’t realise that a seemingly bad situation is really an opportunity in disguise.

Ice Cream queues

Dad was hugely supportive but his health took a turn for the worse.  Mum and I continued to look after him at home with nurses, doctors and round the clock medication all part of the daily routine for several months.  I always remember him saying “Take control and go for it kiddo!”  So I did!

Mum and I enrolled in training courses with Carpigiani’s Gelato University, travelled to Hereford to study courses in recipe formulation and research ice cream making equipment and, within 6 months during the quieter winter season, I remortgaged my home, borrowed every penny I could on credit cards and set up my own production unit at the back of my shop.  It also happens to be the smallest production unit in Scotland but you’d be amazed at what comes out of it.

Dad was terminally ill at that point but was constantly asking how it was all going.  I contacted one of the best graphic designers I know, Derek Goodchild at Ocean Agency, and asked him to create a logo for my new ice cream brand.

My Dad was a very good footballer and won 5 caps for the Scottish Showmen’s International Football League.  He was spotted by a talent scout who wanted to sign him to play professionally for Preston North End.  Faced with choosing between this fantastic  opportunity and his commitment to the family business at that time my Dad decided to give up any notion of a professional career in football.  He continued to play for the SSIFL and everyone who played with him and against him likened him to one of the world’s best Brazilian football players at that time, Geraldo Jose da Silva.  Everyone knew my Dad as Geraldo and so…

Geraldo’s Luxury Ice Cream was born!

My newly branded cabinet was installed in the Spring of 2005 along with branded tubs, napkins and wafers and another ice cream season was upon us.  On Father’s Day 2005, I nipped home to check on Dad and tell him we’d just had a power cut and all my ice cream was melting in the middle of a busy, hot and sunny, Sunday afternoon.  Mum was in the shop giving it away. Why waste good ice cream and what a great marketing opportunity that turned out to be.  He settled back down, smiled and passed away later that night.

There’s not a day goes by when I don’t think of him and the inspiration that he was to me and every day the sun’s shining brightly in Largs there’s nowhere I would rather be than scooping and serving my award-winning ice cream to the visitors and hearing them say Geraldo’s is the best ice cream in Largs.

Incidentally, my Mum affectionately called my Dad Gerry Berry.  That’s now my signature flavour – Classic Vanilla rippled with Amarena Cherries soaked in Kirsch and Balsamic Vinegar.  Dad would’ve loved it!!

Gerald Dawson
1937 – 2005

How do you make ice cream?

It all starts with great ingredients…Sugar, Milk, Double Cream – and lots of it!!!

First we put all the ingredients into our pasteuriser and blend them all together for a couple of hours, leave it overnight and then we have our basic mix to start the day.

Making ice cream

Toni in the ice cream invention lab making today’s flavour

As you can see we add some extra ingredients, all natural and fruit-based and these are mixed into our base mix and poured into our blast freezer.

The end result is 5 litres of absolutely fresh ice cream which is manually fed into a stainless steel napoli container and hand-mixed with all sorts of goodies such as Oreo Cookies,  Clottted Cream Fudge, Scottish Tablet, Chocolate Chip or Bubblegum Millions.  This is Geraldo’s award-winning artisan ice cream at its very best.

Taste and try, give us your verdict on: www.facebook.com/sugarandspicelargs