For ice cream lovers, go fresh and local with unique Merry Moo flavors

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By Anna Valmero

TAGUIG CITY, METRO MANILA—When Kelvin Ngo started Merry Moo Artisan Ice Cream, he had one goal in mind: offer ice cream lovers with exotic flavor concoctions like sea salt-caramel, strawberry-basil, and choco-peanut butter.

The throng of people lining up at his ice cream stall at Mercato’s weekend night market is proof that foodies in the metro loved his refreshing take on the old dessert favorite.

The business idea originally came during his frequent trips to visit his girlfriend in Singapore. Then in November 2009, he introduced his products during the “Ultimate Taste Test” event organized by food blog Our Awesome Planet.

“In one of those trips (to Singapore), my cousin led me to a small homemade ice cream shop that sells exceptional, unique and creative ice cream, with flavors ranging from durian to teh tarik tea. As a foodie, I thought that this would be a good concept to bring here in Manila,” Kelvin recalls.

To keep his dairy products of top quality, Ngo gets his supply of fresh cow’s milk from local dairy from farmers in Laguna. Sourcing milk ingredients locally, instead of importing them from New Zealand, allows him to lower down costs and help local farmers as well.

Compared to commercial ice cream products made in factories, Merry Moo ice cream is home-made and uses fresh milk and fruits. To guarantee freshness, the product is done in small batches.

Kelvin says using fresh, non-ultra heat treated (UHT) dairy is key to the flavor and nutrients of Merry Moo ice cream. As for the brand name, it was based on keeping holstein-fresian cows happy to graze and roam freely so that they also give quality milk.

We thought that happy cows would make great tasting dairy sources, which would ultimately lead to great ice cream,” he explains.

To start the business, Ngo said he had to invest “a fair amount of money” to acquire heavy equipment such as freezers, refrigerators, stoves and ovens. From personally doing the small batches of ice cream on his own, now he has a small team manning the production.

To date, here are the flavors offered by Merry Moo: sea salt caramel, Earl Grey tea, apple cinnamon, rum and raisin, French vanilla, Aztec chocolate,  strawberry basil and coffee Kahlua. A scoop costs P70 to P75, while a pint costs P270.

“Ice cream has always been a childhood favorite of many. At Merry Moo, we want the product to have that friendly, cheery, and funny vibe to it so that people won’t be intimated by our flavors,” Kelvin says.

The light sea salt flavor and slow-cooked caramel made the sea salt and caramel ice cream a quick favorite of mine. It’s like tasting the sea but with just the right hint of sweetness in your mouth.

For our sea salt caramel flavor, Kelvin and his staff cooks the sugar until it’s caramelized and adds a pinch of sea salt to it. Sea salt caramel is an example of a complex taste made from simple flavors, he tells me.

I also found the coffee Kahlua interesting with its double roundhouse kick of Philippine Arabica coffee mixed with the popular coffee-based liquor. If you love drinking Kahlua, this is a must-try.

My other favorites include the strawberry basil and Earl Grey tea ice cream, which according to Kelvin, is made from fresh Chinese leaves and citrus bergamot. My foodie friend Lanie, who likes Earl Grey tea very much, said the ice cream captured the taste and sweet smell of the tea that the after taste is but a welcome treat to the palate.

For the Christmas season, Kelvin says they will be introducing new flavors, possibly with the inclusion of favorite desserts during the season. On their Facebook page, he asks customers about well-loved flavors and considers them for their next batch of ice cream concoctions.

For example, Anna, a regular customer, tasted chocolate pandan in New York and requested it Merry Moo. Using fresh pandan leaves, the new ice cream flavor has been well received by Mercato diners.

In the future, Kelvin plans to set up an ice cream shop to cater to their growing Merry Moo fans.

Get more information on Merry Moo Artisan Ice Cream

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