la Minute made-to-order ice cream shop opens in Redlands

A new ice creamery has opened in Redlands that both geeks and foodies (and those of us that are both) will enjoy.

It’s called la Minute (which literally means “in a minute”) and it’s probably unlike any ice cream shop you’ve ever been to.

That’s because it’s one of only a handful in the world, and is the first of its kind in Southern California.

You see, la Minute creates your ice cream when you order it, freezing the ingredients with liquid nitrogen.

The whole process takes, well, about a minute.

The main culinary gain from the process is that the quick freezing creates smaller crystals, which results in a creamier texture.

In addition, the ice cream base is made with 100% organic dairy from Straus Family Creamery, and the ingredients are locally-sourced, including espresso from Augie’s Coffee House (just around the corner), caramel from Yucaipa’s Chocolate by Carolyn, and strawberries from Mentone-based Jacinto Farms.

They also use locally-grown oranges and local honey for their signature orange honey ice cream.

You can also get your ice cream sandwiched between two Sugarbird Desserts cookies.

Here’s a sped-up look at the process:

To begin, the base is added to the mixing bowl, along with the other ingredients: Augie’s espresso and artisanal chocolate for espresso chip, for example. Then the mixing begins. The liquid nitrogen is added, which freezes the ingredients.

Chef Ryan Berk has dubbed it “a modern creamery.”

Because the liquid nitrogen giving off vapor during the process creates such an interesting visual (something akin to adding dry ice to warm water), customers press up against the shop’s window, snapping pictures and video with cameras and cell phones.

It’s a small shop and you’re meant to get your order and go. There’s no place to sit in the store, but there are a few chairs out on the sidewalk for you to sit and enjoy your ice cream.

The new shop opened Thursday and has been doing tremendous business already. The two times I was there (yes, it was that good), there was about a dozen people inside the shop ordering or waiting for orders (the wait was just a few minutes even at when the shop was very busy), and several others outside already enjoying their desserts.

Prices are on a par with what you might expect to pay at other premium ice creameries, but the freshness of the desserts make it a better bargain. Small cups start at $4 and go up to pints for $10.

la Minute is in the Cope Building, across from Redlands City Hall, 19 E. Citrus Ave., #105. Hours are from noon to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The shop is closed on Sunday.

Current flavors are espresso chip, strawberry balsamic, fresh mint chip, salted caramel and orange honey. Both flavors I tried (espresso chip and salted caramel) were outstanding.

Tabetha Johnson has written about the genesis of la Minute for the Redlands Daily Facts. You can read her article here.