You would be hard-pressed to find flavors like bourbon pecan pie or goat cheese with smoked orange marmalade at most ice cream parlors. But at a not-so-typical shop on Mass. Ave., creativity is on the menu.
Hipster chic meets farm-to-table at Honeycomb Creamery, which opened in late September and is located just past the Quad. Last Monday, as the scent of lemon zest wafted through the storefront, I sat down with the owner Kristen A. Rummel while munching on vegan horchata ice cream topped with homemade chocolate sprinkles. I feigned sophistication by pretending to know what horchata is. (It’s a blend of coconut, rice milk, cinnamon, and vanilla, I later learned.)
Honeycomb is the brainchild of Rummel and her husband, Rory M. Hanlon. Over a meal at the fine-dining eatery Oleana a few years ago, the duo realized that fancy restaurants serve quirky concoctions like corn ice cream. Run-of-the-mill ice cream counters, though, rarely do.
Rummel, a graduate of the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, paired her pastry skills with Hanlon’s business acumen to channel the level of sophistication they sensed missing from many ice cream serveries. They started selling their homemade ice cream at farmers markets in the Boston area in 2015 before opening Honeycomb this fall.
Farmers markets introduced Rummel to what she calls a fierce community of small business owners. “Every time I talk to somebody back home in Delaware, I’m like, ‘Oh, my friend who owns her own cookie business…’ All of my friends are small business owners,” she says.
The flavors are reminiscent of those you might find in swanky spots in Brooklyn. Yet Honeycomb also celebrates locality; ingredients come from New England farms, so the flavors reflect the produce that the farms are producing seasonally. The milk and heavy cream, for instance, come from a nearby farm, and Honeycomb pasteurizes its own base—it’s one of only two ice cream companies in New England to do so, according to Rummel.
Though her course on making ice cream only lasted for one week in culinary school, Rummel has a knack for whacky flavor pairings. She keeps an ever-growing list of ideas—like black peppercorn mixed with pieces of lemon cake—on her store’s refrigerator. Offerings are generally inspired by the flavors that Rummel and Hanlon are craving at the moment. “I like eating banana toffee pie, so I’m going to make that an ice cream,” Rummel declares.
Rummel’s cooking process often comes down to trial and error. One flavor combination gone horribly wrong? Chocolate and mustard.
While new customers can be loyal towards classic ice creams, Rummel has observed a positive response to Honeycomb’s zaniness. “We celebrate those flavors,” she says.