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Inspirations from Italy and Making Kiva Loan History

  Eating gelato every chance we got! (For educational purposes, of course!)

Eating gelato every chance we got!
(For educational purposes, of course!)

This past January, we took a trip to Italy that we've been planning forever...better late than never, right? Our intent was to set out on a tasting voyage to discover new flavors and techniques and bring them home to share with you. 

Durung our 15 day trip we tasted our way through Venice, Bologna, Modena, Florence and Rome.  Before we get into it, we need to mention the art of aperitivo. It's an after lunch, before dinner...sometimes for dinner "bar snack" situation. It's like the ultimate happy hour and everyone does it. Buy a drink, most likely an Aperol Spritz, and have access to the bar full of tasty snacks, sandwiches, salads and meats. Drink, eat, relax, repeat. We LOVE Italy. Ok, on to the highlights:

Bologna is a gem. It's a city of food and culture. It's small and very much geared toward the Bolognese people, not tourists. We ate the best Tagliatelle alla Bolognese in a restaurant cheap enough for students to frequent, followed by house made wine at a bar dating back to 1465. It was amazing! 

The gelato scene here is unbelievable. We tried varieties flavored with Zabaglione (whipped egg yolk custard and Marsala wine), Torrone (almond nougat candy) and Pulcinella (ricotta custard with orange zest and chocolate shavings) and our eyes rolled back in our heads. The flavors are simple and bold and we can't wait to start testing.

Rome was all about fat bowls of Caccio e Pepe, artichokes and creamy fig and ricotta gelato. It was bliss.

After 15 days and 140 miles of walking (we tracked it) we arrived home inspired and ready to create new and exciting flavors for you.  Look for these flavors and more in our 2018 lineup.

  Cross dessert off your party planning list!  Leona's is here to help!

Cross dessert off your party planning list!  Leona's is here to help!

Are you or someone you know getting married this year?  Or maybe you're just planning a really awesome party?  Let us take care of dessert for you and  cross it off your long party planning list.  Here's what you do: fill out this form on our website. We need at least two weeks lead time for events so that we can get logistics in line and make sure we have ice cream for all your guests. We know that each event is unique--location, freezer space, preferred flavors--so get in touch with us and we will work with you to get ice cream to your big day.

Making Kiva Loan History

Now that the dust has settled and we are on our way to a full freezer. We couldn't have done it without your help and support. You were all part of making a little bit of Kiva history! With your help, we had the fastest funded loan over $10K in Kiva history!

Beyond receiving the funds we needed to quickly get back up and running, we witnessed our community helping us when we really needed it. It left us a little shocked and speechless. We thank you all from the bottom of our bowls. The first repayment is on it's way!

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February Is Sweet For So Many Reasons

  A spoonful of Bourbon Cherry Chocolate makes any celebration waaaaaaaay better.

A spoonful of Bourbon Cherry Chocolate makes any celebration waaaaaaaay better.

We are headed into a week of celebration! Valentine’s Day is on Wednesday, and on Tuesday we celebrate both Mardi Gras and Galentine’s Day. Wow. What a time to be alive, and what a cluster of occasions to indulge in some serious ice cream eating. We all know about Valentine’s Day and romantic love and spending time with sweethearts, but let’s talk about Galentine’s Day. This is a day when we get to celebrate our buds, our pals, the people who are with us through thick and thin--our truest friends. Galentine’s Day is traditionally celebrated with a boozy brunch with pals. Brunch is great, and so are mimosas, but we have another idea for you.

What if you and your best friends got together and shared a very special pint of ice cream? Just in time for these February holidays, we are rolling out a limited edition pint that we are very excited to share. This pint starts with a base of bourbon infused ice cream. We stir in Michigan sour cherries that we preserved over the summer, and finish it all off with chocolate shavings for a little decadence and texture, and we’re calling it, simply enough, Bourbon Cherry Chocolate. Share it with your gals, share it with your pals, eat it all alone, heck, even share it with someone you are in romantic partnership with.

 It's time to start planning summer events! 

It's time to start planning summer events! 

Speaking of partnership, we’d like to talk a little bit about everyone’s favorite season, coming up in just a few short months--wedding season!!! Are you planning a wedding or do you know someone who is? Are you planning to propose or say yes this Valentine’s Day? Most importantly, do you know what you are serving for dessert at your wedding this summer? Or hey, are you having some other non-wedding event coming up where you would like to serve Leona’s? We are here for you.

Here’s the scoop: fill out this form on our website. We need at least two weeks lead time for events so that we can get logistics in line and make sure we have ice cream for all your guests. We know that each event is unique--location, freezer space, preferred flavors--so get in touch with us and we will work with you to get ice cream to your event.

Christa & Katie

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Happy New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Hello friends!

 Have you baked our cookies at home? You should, then take all the credit. We won't tell. 

Have you baked our cookies at home? You should, then take all the credit. We won't tell. 

January typically ushers in a slow sales period for us. We get it--lots of New Year's resolutions involve eating less ice cream, and appetites for frozen treats dip with the temperature. We're making fewer deliveries every week, we're baking fewer cookies, and we're spinning ice cream just a few times a week instead of hours every day.

So how do we fill our time during these cold months before ice cream demand and temperatures rise? In the kitchen, we've been doing lots and lots of testing. We're working on new ice cream flavors and mix-ins, and we're taste-testing and tweaking. How much bourbon is the right amount of bourbon in bourbon cherry ice cream? Should we use chips or chunks in this salted tahini chocolate cookie? Why do these marshmallows taste like almonds even though there are no almonds in this recipe? These are the questions that we ponder in January.

 

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What else? We are taking advantage of winter citrus season and tropical flavors to bring some excitement to these gray days. Our Tangerine Blackberry Ripple on Shortbread is out there in the world, along with Key Lime on Graham and Persimmon on Ginger Molasses. We’re looking forward to spring and we're thinking about what we will be growing in our garden this summer. We’re going to have strawberries and lots of flowers, but we’re still figuring out the rest. If you have any suggestions, please let us know!

Those are some of the things that we're working on here. Thank you so much for an excellent 2017--you can now find Leona’s in 50 locations in the area, we built a garden, and we set the foundation for some big projects in the coming year. Thank you for your support and well wishes, and here's hoping for a sweet 2018!


Katie & Christa

 

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Ice Cream and Cookies

  (L to R) Ellie, Gillian, Katie, Rachel, Emma, Nicole and Christa

 (L to R) Ellie, Gillian, Katie, Rachel, Emma, Nicole and Christa

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE LEONA'S CREW!

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Hello friends,

Will you be celebrating national cookie day? This delightful made-up holiday falls on December 4th every year, and with it, we dive headlong into cookie-filled December. A lot of our best holiday memories revolve around food, and we think baking cookies during the cold, dark days of December is a rewarding thing to do with kids, with your roommate, your fur babies, or blissfully alone. 

Here at Leona's, we've made cookie-making super easy for you! This December, we are offering four types of our favorite cookie dough--and it's already mixed, portioned, and frozen. All you have to do is pull it out of the freezer and bake. Buy some to bake yourself, or buy them as a gift for special someones in your life. We packaged them in these fetching hand-stamped bags, and we think they make pretty nice-looking presents. Each package contains 16 balls of dough--impress your family and friends with Oatmeal Lace, Chocolate Chunk, Ginger Molasses, or Salted Heath Chunk. Cookie dough is currently available for preorder online, and will be available in select stores. Eat them alone or eat them with ice cream. Just don't eat the raw dough. Seriously, don't do it.

 

Winter Holiday 4-Packs

Since our Thanksgiving ice cream sandwich 4-packs were so popular, we're back at it with winter holiday 4-packs. Nab one of these packs, and you will behold an assortment of our limited-edition, seasonal flavors. Each 4-pack contains one each of Speculoos ice cream on Speculoos Cookie, Chocolate Orange on Almond Cookie, Lemon Cream on Ginger Molasses Cookie, and Peppermint Bark on Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie. Wow. Preorder these through our website for pickup at The Flying Squirrel on Saturday, December 16th from 12-2 or at the 52nd Street Market on Sunday, December 17th from 12-2.

We hope your holiday season is rich, beautiful, and filled with delicious things. Happy holidays from everyone here at Leona's.

Katie & Christa

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It's National Ice Cream Sandwich Day!

Photo Credit: Matt Dayak

We try not to get wrapped up in silly faux holidays, but this one is just to perfect. To celebrate we are doing what we do best, making ice cream and cookies!

We wanted to tell you a bit more about what we’ve been up to this summer.

First off, we’ve been incredibly busy growing our wholesale accounts to more than 45 locations across the city and surrounding suburbs to make sure we are at a location near you.  Our newest locations include Shenot Farm and Market in Wexford, Domenico’s in Cranberry and Rusty Gold Brewery in Canonsburg. You can see the full list of our stores and restaurants here. 

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Garden Update

We’ve been working on turning the vacant lot on Penn Ave. in Wilkinsburg into our Kitchen Garden. We’ve had great success with the help of our awesome Chatham Food Studies intern Chloe. She helped us go from empty lot to abundant garden.

Huge thanks to Community LIFE for helping us create a fence that's both beautiful and functional and to Eichenlaub, without them, we'd have no soil to grow all of these amazing plants. 

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After

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New Summer Pint

A few months ago we started making ice cream by the pint. We plan on doing rotating seasonal flavors in addition to our year round variety. We will soon say goodbye to our Strawberry Pound Cake while we say hello to Cucumber and Orange Blossom. 

Our test kitchen is working on some new flavor combos for pints using the awesome fruit from our farmers and they'll be coming out in the next few months. You can see all the stores that carry our ice cream in sandwiches and pints on our website.

Enjoy the warm weather and grab an Ice Cream Sandwich to share!

 

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Happiness, Pint Sized

Hi gang, so it's here, it's square and it's pint sized. Introducing the cutest ice cream in the land...

We are starting with five flavors: Vanilla, Chocolate, Fresh Mint Chocolate, Coffee and Cinnamon Oatmeal Lace. 

You know we can't stop at five flavors when there are so many beautiful fruits and combinations to honor in our ice cream. 

 

After exhaustive testing we've come up with two beautiful new flavors: 


Lavender & Honeycomb

Our Lavender base is super floral and refreshing. It's studded with chunks of crispy, gooey honeycomb candy. Some call it "Sponge Candy," "Fairy Candy," "Honeycomb Toffee," and a ton of other regional variations. It's all delicous. 
 

 Lavender & Honeycomb

Lavender & Honeycomb

 
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Strawberry Pound Cake

Using the ripest berries from last season, this ice cream is a reminder that warmer days are to come. We fold in hunks of buttery pound cake to our classic strawberry. The cake is a family recipe and one of Christa's favorites! 

 Strawberry Pound Cake

Strawberry Pound Cake

 

But where do I get these adorable confections? 

That is a brilliant question. We are still building our list of locations but you can find the list on our website. Stores that carry pints are marked with a (P). 

Behold, scooped perfection...

Our new friend Matt Dayak and his fantastic food stylist, Kim Fox of Worker Bird took some fantastic photos of our new scoops. Here are just a few to whet your appetite. 

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Black History Month and the Modernization of Ice Cream

As we draw to a close on Black History Month we’ve been thinking a lot about our role in our community and, as business owners, the folks that forged the path before us. Today we wanted to celebrate the transformative role African-Americans played in the modernization of the form and business of ice cream.
 

The accomplishments of African-Americans, though rarely recognized, touch every aspect of modern life, from space travel to government to the textile industry, we want to focus on two great thinkers, dreamers, tinkerers and inventors who helped make ice cream what it is today.

Also, they both came from or lived in Pennsylvania. And for us, it’s the cherry on top. 

Augustus Jackson – Chef, Inventor and Business Man

In the 1820’s Augustus Jackson left his job as a White House chef to start a successful catering business in Philadelphia. By 1832 he developed a more efficient modern method for making ice cream, using salt to lower the temperature of ice and more efficiently churn ice cream.

For the people who aren’t ice cream freaks like us, THIS IS A HUGE DEAL. With this advancement, Jackson was able to sell his ice cream to individuals and ice cream parlors at $1.00 per quart. In the 1830’s that was a ton of money.

Jackson soon became known as “The Father Of Ice Cream” and enjoyed a monopoly on ice cream in Philadelphia for years.  By the end of Jackson’s life he was one of the richest men in Philadelphia.

Alfred Cralle – Inventor

Alfred Cralle haled from Virginia and was born just after the Civil War. By the age of 30 he was granted a U.S. Patent for an “Ice Cream Mold and Disher” or what we like to call an ice cream scoop.  

After working with his father in the family wood shop, Cralle became interested in mechanics and went on to continue his education at Wayland Seminary.  Eventually settling in Pittsburgh, Cralle worked as a porter at a drugstore and hotel where he noticed the difficulty people were having putting ice cream into cones.

The idea for the ice cream scoop was born.  Alfred Cralle created a mechanical tool that easily removed ice cream from its container and released it from the scoop. While Cralle didn’t become famous or profit from his invention, he did create one of the most useful and essential items in the modern ice cream industry.

Thank you Augustus and Alfred.

 

Sources

www.Blackpast.org
www.Biography.com
www.foodtimeline.org

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Leona's Is Growing Places

Hello friends, typically winter is a time to hibernate and slow down. But in the world of ice cream, it's the opposite. Yes, we have a chance to catch our breath and relax but we also have the time and space to think about what's next. And what's next is super exciting!

NEW STORE ALERT!

We are continuing to grow in traditional ways by adding new locations, starting on January 27, Leona's will be available at Pizzuvio Neapolitan Pizza on Forbes Ave. downtown Pittsburgh. The guys behind the acclaimed Il Pizzaiolo in Mt. Lebanon and Warrendale, are serving a pared down menu of authentic Neapolitan pizzas, street food and antipasti. We are proud to partner with them. 

                                                                                                     

GROWING OUR OWN

We are also growing in a more literal way. Leona's is turning a vacant lot into an Ice Cream Garden. With the help of Wilkinsburg CDC, Community LIFE East End and Eichenlaub, we are turning a vacant lot into an Ice Cream Garden.  Rather than let it collect trash, we thought we'd put it to good use and grow some of the ingredients while beautifying a stretch of Penn Ave.  We're working with our Wilkinsburg neighbors, Technique Architectural Products to build a beautiful fence for the space (plans pictured) and will keep you updated as we make progress.

 

 The "before" image of our garden space.

The "before" image of our garden space.

 Drawings for the fence mimic the natural patterns found on leaves. 

Drawings for the fence mimic the natural patterns found on leaves. 

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New Restaurant Alert: South Side BBQ

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New Restaurant Alert: South Side BBQ

Hi gang! There is so much going on over here and we just can't wait to share it all with you. Some stuff is still under wraps but we are taking this winter to develop new flavors and new products! Yep, you read that correctly...new products! We'll talk about all of that soon enough!

But now, drumroll please.........

new restaurant alert: South Side BBq

Pat and Mike at SSBQ, creators of the Bar-Ba-Cone and co-pilots of the CarnivoreMobile, are carrying Leona's Ice Cream Sandwiches at their brick and mortar restaurant. This is the first location to carry our product on the South Side!

Stop by their restaurant and grab some BBQ and an Ice Cream Sandwich!

75 S 17th St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203
(412) 381-4566
http://southsidebbqcompany.com/
Follow them: 
Facebook and Twitter

To everywhere Leona's Ice Cream is sold visit www.leonaspgh.com.

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See ya 2016

Hello! As 2016 comes to a close we are looking forward to a fresh new year, new business possibilities and a some really big plans for Leona's Ice Cream. We'll be updating you, our beloved friends and customers on the news as it happens.

But before we look forward, let's look back at the top 5 things that happened during this crazy year.

  • Concord grape ice cream on a peanut butter cookie. Totally unexpected and crazy delicous. 
  • Leona's in more than 30 locations! Leona's ice cream sandwiches are available in markets and restaurants from Ross to Peters and from Export to Robinson. See the whole list on our website.
  • Expanded both staff and equipment. Our crew of hardworking bakers and ice cream makers multiplied from two to four amazing women. Thank you Nicole, Emma, Rachel and Ellie. We also were able to purchase a larger equipment and walk-in refrigeration. These new additions will help us grow in 2017.  
  • Sold over state lines, thank you Ohio! We love rustbelt cities and all of the hard work that they represent. We had an amazing experience attending the Youngstown Flea this summer. We felt the love and loved 'em right back. 
  • Gluten Free Cookies. We finally hit on a gluten free cookie that both tasted good and held up to freezing. Our friends at Enrico Biscotti generously allow us to use their almond macaroon recipe, it's naturally gluten free and it's fantastic!

Have a happy New Year and we'll see you in 2017!

Katie & Christa

 

 

 

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Tap, tap, tap....Is this thing on?

Hi there! We're Leona's Ice Cream and for those who are new to us or our product, we just want to say "hi." For those who are longtime friends of Leona's we wanted to say, "heyooo! you are awesome." 

After two full years of making ice cream sandwiches we thought it would be a good idea to formally introduce ourselves and tell you, lovely reader, what's going on at the kitchen! We feel it's important to keep you in the loop about what's new and what's next because without your help, we wouldn't be where we are today. If you like what we have to say, subscribe on our homepage and we'll keep you up to date with flavors, products, new store locations and kitchen news.

That said, we have some ground rules for this blog/newsletter: 

  1. No useless info - we'll post when we have something fun and new to talk about. 
  2. Privacy - If you trust us with your email we will not abuse the privilege by sharing your email or sending you spam, pinky swear.   
  3. Only nice things. Ice cream is fun, it makes people happy. This blog/newsletter should do the same! 

We think you're the best! 

Katie & Christa

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