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A 21st-century ice cream social

What does an unemployed chef do when it's way too hot outside? If you're Dan O'Brien, the answer is make – and sell – homemade ice cream.

Ice cream entrepreneur "researches" gelato in Paris. (Daniel O'Brien)

Starting in August, O'Brien will offer flavors such as mint, Nutella and cardamom-cherry through a weekly ice cream club. As in a CSA (community-supported agriculture), in which members receive a weekly allotment of fruits and vegetables, his club members will get six four-ounce portions of ice cream or sorbet – 1 1/2 pints total -- churned no more than 48 hours before. Membership costs $15 for one week; $25, $35 and $45 for two, three and four weeks, respectively. Members must pick up their share at the chef's home in Dupont Circle.

O'Brien, a former sous chef at Bibiana and Equinox, was making the ice cream anyway. This fall, he plans to launch Seasonal Pantry, a line of foods including dry rubs, jams, sauces, pickles, cured meats and, of course, ice cream. His line first will be available at Sundevich, a sandwich shop slated to open at 1314 Ninth St. NW in Shaw. Later, O'Brien hopes to open his own retail store.

O'Brien prefers ice creams with smooth textures. He's applying cheffy techniques to make his shine. For example, he recently made mint ice cream using extracted chlorophyll from spinach to create a bright green color. His nutella flavor has two jars of the hazelnut-chocolate puree in each quart.

Prospective customers have made their penchant for chunky ice creams known, however. In response, O'Brien is working on a banana ice cream with chunks of homemade banana bread and chocolate.

The Washington has seen a mini-renaissance for gelato and ice cream in recent years. Dolcezza and Pitango, which use local ingredients, each have several outlets. Though O'Brien's prices may seem high, they are competitive. A pint of gelato at Dolcezza costs $11.

Of 30 spaces, just eight memberships are still available. To sign up, email

-- Jane Black

By Jane Black  |  July 27, 2010; 2:00 PM ET
Categories:  Sustainable Food  | Tags: Jane Black  
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Dan, Way to go!! We are excited to try out your new venture soon!! Katie and Christian Garcia

Posted by: katiesell | July 28, 2010 1:21 PM | Report abuse

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