A lawyer and a software engineer will soon be practicing a new trade in Uptown when their Frozen Matter ice cream shop opens at 530 East 19th Avenue. Geraldine Kim and Josh Gertzen found the space, next to Marg's Taco Bistro, after a six-month search and plenty of ice cream experimentation.
"My obsession has always been cakes and ice cream," says Kim, who was a practicing attorney for more than eight years but got into desserts while in law school, often catering events for friends. Gertzen, a native of Alaska, comes to the frozen-confection world after a career in coding.
The two are serious about their new craft and attended Pennsylvania State University's ice cream program, which has instructed generations of dairy professionals for more than 100 years. They're also attempting something rare in the world of small ice cream shops: Frozen Matter will have its own pasteurization system so that Kim and Gertzen can make ice cream base from scratch, rather than having to purchase pre-made base, a common practice even at high-end creameries, because of Colorado's strict food-safety regulations.
In fact, Kim explains that the word "creamery" is often misused in the business, because the majority of ice cream shops don't buy milk direct from dairy farmers, but buy a base that already contains milk, cream, sugar and sometimes eggs. This isn't cheating or taking short-cuts, though; it's just the reality of working within the law in Colorado (and most other states).
"Ice cream-making is a balancing act between the water and sugar and milk fat," Kim explains. By installing a pasteurizer, she and Gertzen will be able to control the ratios of each flavor, so that fresh fruits and juices can be used without danger of creating icy or weakly flavored ice cream and so that other flavors, even something as simple as vanilla, can be "cooked" into the product rather than added cold as an extract or concentrate. "To create a flavor, I spend 50 percent in front of the computer and 50 percent in the kitchen," she adds.
Because of this, Frozen Matter will be licensed as a dairy-production facility and will have a full kitchen along with five separate levels of refrigeration to ensure that the final product is rich and creamy as well as safe. Gertzen says that they'll also be making 90 to 95 percent of their add-ins at the shop rather than purchasing pre-made ingredients. Everything from hazelnut toffee to housemade marshmallows — which will become part of a toasted-marshmallow, bourbon and bacon ice cream — will come from Frozen Matter's stoves and ovens.
"That's what makes it fun — it's almost endless," Kim notes. "You can make almost anything into ice cream." Along with a core of seven or eight flavors, Frozen Matter will offer another ten or so rotating flavors based on the seasons and availability of ingredients. Fun combos will feature pomegranate, black pepper and yuzu, just to name a few.
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Frozen Matter will also have a full liquor license with a separate speakeasy in the back, accessible through a false walk-in freezer. "We were their first fake freezer commissioned," says Kim of the refrigeration company that also installed the shop's real walk-ins.
Through the closet-sized pass-through, guests will find a darker space with a full bar and floors treated with a swirled metallic sheen intended to resemble the photographs of nebulas that Gertzen showed the design team. For both the front and back of the space, the two are working with the Interior, the same company that designed Sarto's and Nocturne, to come up with a look that combines retro and futuristic elements.
The full liquor license means that craft cocktails will be part of the program in the speakeasy, and the ice cream shop will be able to offer specials like champagne with a scoop of sorbet, beer floats and maybe even a butterscotch milkshake with a shot of bourbon. Beyond the booze, Frozen Matter will also sell housemade frozen pops (made with a chiller that can create the frozen treats in twelve minutes) and flavored sodas in classic flavors like root beer, cream soda and ginger beer, as well as more creative blends like orange-cardamom.
Look for Frozen Matter's grand opening at the end of April, when the streets and sidewalks of Uptown may finally be clear of a less exciting form of frozen matter.