Celebrating the Sweet Feast with Herrell's

herrellsteaAt sunset tonight, July 17, the month-long observance of Ramadan comes to a close in the celebration of Eid al-Fitr. Literally translated as “the Sweet Feast,” this culinarily-focused observance features sweet, rich dishes.

Herrell’s Ice Cream in downtown Northampton is offering two special ice cream flavors in observance of this celebration. Judy Herrell, president and owner of Herrell’s Ice Cream, told me about the inspiration behind their special Moroccan Mint Tea and Baklava flavors.

It all began with a mysterious phone message from someone (she never found out who) at the Springfield Islamic Center asking if she could offer an ice cream in honor of Eid al-Fitr. Judy is no stranger to developing new ice creams based on traditional flavors, earlier this year Herrell’s offered Haroset ice cream for Passover, and in past years they’ve developed date-nut-halva and tamarind-coconut ice creams at customers’ requests.

Judy had already been thinking about Baklava ice cream––her family has both Ashkenazi and Sephardic roots, and both sides of her family made a version of the nutty, honeyed pastry. She designed a formulation that contains local honey, walnuts, almonds and pistachios.

Moroccan Mint Tea took a little longer to develop. The traditional cup of tea, enjoyed by people across the Middle East and beyond, uses an equal volume of green gunmetal tea and mint leaves and a substantial amount of sugar. Many, many test batches later, a final recipe was developed. A frequent Muslim visitor to Herrell’s ended up serving as an official taste tester during the months-long development process. Judy said “When she tasted our last batch and asked to take a few pints home for her father, I knew we’d gotten it right!”

Both gluten-free flavors will be available at the Northampton store through this Sunday, July 19. After that, they’ll be put into the ever-changing ice cream flavor rotation.

Screen Shot 2015-07-17 at 7.34.46 AM“Everyone is welcome at Herrell’s.” says Judy. “We want people to to be able to taste another culture, new flavors. It’s one way to taste the world.” As a traveler and explorer, Judy loves the way she can share news traditions and flavors with her customers. In addition to her desire in offering flavors for everyone to enjoy, she is also proud to say “Herrell’s has been buying and supporting local, with a focus on sustainability, for its 35 years in business.”