A Tasty Tradition
Years ago, on any given summer Sunday afternoon, eager children in the shade of an oak tree took turns on the crank of an old-fashioned ice cream churn. Farm-fresh ingredients, a tub of ice and a sack of rock salt were the basics of a ritual many baby boomers may longingly remember.
It is this scrumptious treat that Michael Southall, owner of Ice Cream 504, offers at his quaint 600-square-foot shop on Jena Street. He learned the art of making ice cream on his Aunt Ruby's porch in Napoleonville, Louisiana.
"When I was a little boy, my Aunt Ruby, who lived next door, was a wonderful cook,” he said. “She’d make anything we asked her to make, but on Sundays in the summertime she’d make a tub of ice cream.”
For most of his life Southall lovingly churned homemade ice cream for his family and friends. But several years ago, the former sign painter started a side business selling his wares at French Market Produce in the French Market. Then, two and a half years ago, his friend and now business partner, James Comeaux, urged him to open his own shop to pursue his passion for frozen delights full time.
“It’s my fault we have all this great ice cream here,” Comeaux jokingly said.
Southall uses and adapts the traditional recipes that his Aunt Ruby passed on to him. Unlike commercial ice cream that’s been stabilized and emulsified, Southall’s ice cream is made fresh daily in small batches. He uses neither preservatives nor gum as a thickener and all of his flavors are gluten free.
The shop offers 10 to 16 flavors, from traditional chocolate and strawberry to more unusual flavors such as Ginger and Maryanne, a blend of tomato and ginger. Popular flavors also include Blueberry Basil and Almond Peach Petit Four. Some of the choices change seasonally.
“We use locally sourced ingredients whenever we can,” said Southall. “A jewel of a find was the business Those Nuts. We get nuts from them and we use Tee Eva’s pralines in our OPP, an orange pecan praline ice cream.”
The burgeoning Freret Street neighborhood has embraced the shop and the store stays busy throughout the day with many regular and avid fans from all around the city.
“The Blueberry Basil ice cream is out of this world,” said one of the store’s customers, Angie Silvestry. “The waffle cones are crisp and fresh. The service is personable, efficient and engaging. They are so very proud of their products and it shows.”
The store is open summer, winter, spring and fall because as Southall says: “People like good ice cream year-round.”
Ice Cream 504
2511 Jena St.