Since April this year, locally-crafted Moo Shu Ice Cream has been popping up at fun events and locations, delighting Ottawans with inventively delicious flavours.
When I first tasted Moo Shu truffles, they melted in my mouth while I gazed at precious stones that sparkled like candy in glass display cases. Local entrepreneur Liz Mok had chosen Joy Creations, home of local jewellry artisans, as the place to offer tastings of her ice cream to her fellow Glebe-ites. This was ice cream fit for a boutique.
Mok handmakes her ice cream treats, and sources local ingredients. The milk and cream are from Pembroke. Unlike store-bought whipping cream, hers is pure and additive-free, without thickening agents, and she doesn’t add eggs to the mix.
While Liz Mok had bought an ice cream maker for her older sister as a housewarming present, she would be the one to get hooked on it. It started just for fun; she was making the flavours that she loved.
Mok said goodbye to her regular day job this past April so that she could turn her focus into making her ice cream dreams your reality. She has an academic background in industrial design and an inventive spirit which translate well into strategic product development. Ottawa has become her very willing test kitchen.
Mok has invested in a heavier duty ice-cream maker, one with a compressor. She can ship ice cream orders using dry ice.
“It’s funny,” Mok says, when people ask incredulously, “You do what now?!” “I make ice cream,” she says with a smile and an infectious laugh.
Mok irreverently describes her ice cream start-up as, “The love child of a crotchety old British Man and a Japanese millennial.” She takes her nostalgia for her birthplace of Hong Kong, and blends it with local Ottawa ingredients. The name Moo Shu is itself a throw-back to 1960’s era American take on Chinese Food: Moo Shu Pork.
Mok recalls her taste for adventures in food going back to the early age of three, when she was already trying things like squid and caviar.
Since fish eggs and tentacles might not be your average little kid’s cup of tea, Mok has dreamt up a fizzing, frozen yogurt-sicle featuring Pop Rocks and lemon. It made its delightful debut at the Great Glebe Garage Sale.
The “Hong Kong Milk Tea Ice Cream Sandwich” on the other hand, is fit for a proper afternoon tea. The Ice cream is flavoured with a secret blend of black and red tea, and then pressed between two small toasted, steel-cut Scottish oat cakes. It is light and delicious.
“If I could only have one thing in Hong Kong, it would be milk tea”, says Mok in an explanation of her inspiration for the treat. She recalls her father saying, “‘I’d never eat at that restaurant because their milk tea is no good’”, to describe the fanaticism that Hong Kongers harbour for the drink.
“Moolong Tea” truffles are made from Pouchong Oolong tea, steeped for 12 hours in milk and then blended with cream, and finally covered in a rich dark chocolate.
For the savoury side of things, there’s “Spicy Caramel Fuyu”. It features a salted caramel base along with fermented chinese tofu.
Then, there’s the beer. That’s right: beer ice cream, featuring some of the best micro-brews Ottawa has to offer. “Dark[Nilli]ness” is made with Beyond the Pale Brewing Company’s stout (known as “The Darkness”), and speckled with real vanilla beans. A “Hopsicle” will debut on Canada Day, alongside a new Dominion City secret brew.
Where to find it
Moo Shu is at many events happening around Ottawa this summer. On July 1st, taste it at the Dominion Day block party; July 11 at the Ottawa Makers Market; July 18 at the Baby EnRoute 2-year Anniversary, and July 25 at the Brewery Market. It will also be at the Ottawa Farmers Market in Lansdowne, Sundays until July 12th.
Mok’s ideas for the future include bicycle-powered ice cream delivery, and eventually, a shop of her own.