If this isn’t the middle of nowhere, it’s certainly in the same neighborhood. I’m on a local road in eastern PA, driving past farmland and not too much else. My destination is easy to miss; there is a sign, but I was expecting something a little larger or flashier. It’s a cloudy, chilly day in early March, yet there are multiple cars in the lot, somewhat unusual for an ice cream joint at a time of year when many are still closed. Then again, OwowCow Creamery isn’t your typical ice cream place.
This is a distinctly low-key, bare-bones environment. There’s a counter with a couple of stools, but nothing else in the way of seating. No gimmicks, no fancy printed menus — even their cartons are plain. But once you taste the ice cream and sorbet, you’ll understand that all of the money and effort poured into OwowCow Creamery has gone into the products they offer.
Owner John Fezzuoglio started this business in an attempt to support his community, especially its farms and open spaces. At the same time, he wanted something that came from himself, and he already knew he loved making food for family and friends. But there was another requirement: Mr. Fezzuoglio didn’t want to have to sell anything. He spends nothing on advertising, and he doesn’t need to. People adore ice cream/sorbet to begin with, and word is spreading quickly about this little place.
What is OwowCow Creamery doing to support local farms, you ask? The dairy used in these products is local and organic (though not certified organic); the eggs are from local hens who are free-ranging and have never seen the inside of a cage. The fruits and berries in these ice creams and sorbets are seasonal and provided by area growers. Even the cane sugar is organic and Fairtrade, so the communities supported are both in the immediate area and halfway around the globe. I can’t determine whether it’s good-quality ingredients or the care bordering on obsession with which they’re made that renders these ice creams and sorbets so delicious, but this much I can say: Making really good ice cream, from local, seasonal, and organic ingredients, is easy — if you’re making tiny batches for home consumption. Making really good frozen desserts from such ingredients for retail purposes, however, is something most people won’t even attempt, because it’s too difficult and much too expensive.
With that in mind, and since I’m functioning as your tour guide, let’s wander over to the display case. You’ll have a choice of 24 varieties of ice cream and sorbet. Flavors might include Sweet Honey Cream, Mint Chocolate Chip, Blood Orange Sorbet, Raspberry Pistachio, Meyer Lemon (an ice cream), Chocolate Raspberry, three varieties of vanilla, and I Hate Chocolate. The latter is so called because Mr. Fezzuoglio dislikes the great amount of labor that goes into it (I know of very few chocolate ice creams that begin with the preparation of a ganache; this one does). I’m partial to the brilliant Madagascar Vanilla, with a robust vanilla taste that fills your mouth instantly; the Espresso Chip, with a strong coffee base filled with innumerable chocolate flecks; and the gorgeously rich Rum Raisin, made with golden raisins. For those who must gild the lily, OwowCow Creamery will make you a sundae, with topping choices such as maple walnut, fruit compote, caramel, or hot fudge. Be advised that they do not yet make all of their own toppings (for instance, they’ve been unable to concoct a hot fudge sauce to their liking. As someone who’s been trying to create a perfect hot fudge sauce for years now, I know how difficult this can be. If it’s important to you, simply ask which toppings they make themselves.) Alternatively, have your ice cream or sorbet in a waffle cone or tote home a few pints or quarts.
OwowCow Creamery is located at 4105 Durham Road in Ottsville, PA. Visit the minimalist website or you can reach them by phone at 610-847-7070. They do not ship products (not yet, at any rate), but sell at a couple of area Farmers’ Markets in addition to the store. Open year-round, this establishment merits a significant detour if you’re anywhere near the area.