When Danish duo Christian Toxboe and Laura Nielsen brought their gelato recipe to the U.S., they wanted to make it different.
They wanted to make it nice.
Using fresh, organic ingredients, they launched N'ice Cream: Nielsen's Homemade Gelato and Sorbet, a Venice Beach-based dessert and espresso shop. Each morning, 16 flavors are whipped up in-store using a formula that is lower in fat and sugar than traditional ice cream.
"We opened on the notion that it is possible to bring a group of kids somewhere that moms don't have to be worried about artificial flavors and sweeteners," Toxboe said. "We serve in small scoops — it's not a huge pile of frozen yogurt with chocolate chips and syrup piled on it — and then calling it healthy."
N'ice Cream opens at the OC Mart Mix, 3313 Hyland Ave. in Costa Mesa, on March 23. From noon to 4 p.m., Toxboe and Nielsen will be scooping out free servings of their signature, thick and creamy gelato.
Flavors like salted caramel, lemon olive oil, raspberry basil and tiramisu, as well as more traditional flavors like vanilla bean and chocolate, have created fanfare at the couple's Santa Monica and Venice Beach locations, Nielsen said.
"We wanted to have a balance between what we offer kids and adults so that we have something for everyone," Nielsen said.
They experiment with ingredients like biscotti, pistachio, peanut butter and jelly, and any seasonal fruit they can get their hands on from a local farmers market. They'll try any combination they — or customers — can think up.
"It can be hit or miss," Toxboe said. "We even triedCoca-Cola."
"That turned out awful," Nielsen added.
When customers find that favorite flavor, they can log onto N'ice Cream's website and see if it's available and exactly what time of day it was made. For the true fan, there's even email notification.
Touches like that, Nielsen said, are integral to N'ice Cream's philosophy of being a true community business.
"We want our customers to know the people behind the counter by name," Nielsen said. "We want to know their favorite flavors and have our people already scooping out that flavor before they even order."