GRAB BAG New frozen tastes at Catbird Creamery.
It would hardly be summer without ice cream, but for Andrew Warren, owner and ice-cream maker of Catbird Creamery, this summer has been nothing but. Since his business opened July 5, Warren has spent day and night churning new flavors, one gallon at a time. These aren't your average varieties: Sample Maple Blueberry, Strawberry Balsamic, Brandy Bourbon, or Basil Candied Apple.
Warren is no stranger to slinging cream. As a matter of fact, he practically grew up in an ice-cream shop. His dad owned Dark Harbor Shop, an ice-cream place on Islesboro, a small island off the coast of Camden. "There's pictures of me as a baby in a carrier on top of an ice-cream freezer," he recounts. He worked there as a teenager and "that probably had some influence on me. Kids called me the ice cream man." But his dad didn't make his own ice cream — and that's where Warren thrives.
He honed his ice-cream-making skills as the former pastry chef at Five Fifty-Five, so it wasn't making the ice cream that was a challenge — it was finding the space to sell it. Luckily, a friend and former co-worker did. Catbird Creamery is located in Fit to Eat, a sandwich shop located at 164 Middle Street, in the same plaza as Sebago Brewing Company.
Fit to Eat owner Mike Mastronardi says he wanted to add desserts and Warren's approach jived well with his business model. "We make our own breads, mayos, and dressings and we don't buy anything prepared from anyone," Mastronardi says. "Catbird Creamery goes along with that concept and that's why I like it. We're both sourcing things locally (too)."
Mastronardi's confidence in Warren's churning prowess comes first-hand. "I remember going to Five Fifty-Five before I worked there and having the Blue Cheese and Bacon ice cream and thinking: 'Wow.'" However, both proprietors realize the public's palate isn't always so daring. "My goal was to make it approachable, but unique," Warren says. But even his "basic" wares, like Salted Chocolate and Brown Sugar Vanilla, are an interesting twist on traditional flavors.
And then there's the Furious George. "My wife came up with the name and I sat down and thought 'What would Furious George ice cream be?'" he says. The answer: Hot pepper ice cream, caramelized bananas, and big chunks of dark chocolate. The hot pepper can be surprising, since the cream makes it linger on the tongue, but the bananas and chocolate mellow it out and bring it together. Experimenting with different combinations is a big part of the fun — Warren hopes his customers will come to trust his flavors.
Even the name of the shop is unique. "Catbird Creamery came about because we've had two catbirds nested in our backyard for the last three years and they have beautiful songs," he says. "They're related to mockingbirds so they copy the songs of other species of birds and every year they get older their song gets more complex . . . They're cool birds; plus, I like alliteration."