Giovanni Salvador has had a passion for ice cream since childhood, like most folks. However, it all started in the Philippines, where he grew up. We talked about his sweet childhood memories, experimenting with his first flavors, and ice cream and cookie pairings.
Tell me about your love for ice cream.
That love is definitely something that runs deep because I’ve always had a passion for ice cream. Growing up in the Philippines, we used to have these ice cream peddlers that would sell out of carts. I remember getting purple yam ice cream or “sorbets,” as they are called, every afternoon as a snack. Ice cream is great because it’s so versatile. I used to tell my friends in college that after working my whole life in the foodservice industry I would move to a warmer state, buy an old food truck and start vending ice cream. I guess it happened sooner.
At what point did you say, “Gee, Providence really needs an ice cream cart, and I am the person to do it?”
The cart idea just sort of came naturally because of two reasons: The first being my upbringing in the Philippines where they have ice cream peddlers. The second reason is my business partner, David Cass, and I merging two things we are passionate about. I just graduated from culinary school (Johnson & Wales University in 2010) and he owns a pedicab business in Newport (Pirate Pedicab). Those two things collided to make Tricycle Ice Cream.
What do you use for the base of your ice cream?
Our base contains organic milk, sugar and cream.
Are you able to source any of these ingredients locally?
We try to source as many local items as possible from the vendors at the farmer’s markets we sell out of. Some produce we use locally include strawberries (Salisbury Farm and Schartner Farms), mint (Absalona Greenhouse and Little City Growers), peaches (Crispy Green Vegetables), blueberries (Crispy Green Vegetables) and coffee (New Harvest Coffee Roasters). It’s great because the season dictates what goes on our menu.
What was the first flavor you created and how long did it take to perfect?
The first flavor we tested out was my all time favorite: Callebaut chocolate ice cream on a salty pretzel shortbread. This ice cream sandwich has everything I love. It’s salty, sweet, crunchy and creamy with caramel and fruity notes. It was a very interesting and fun process creating this flavor. First, we had to find the right chocolate with the right properties (quality, viscosity, sugar content and cocoa content). We ended up picking Callebaut’s 60% Belgian dark chocolate because it met all of the criteria we wanted from our chocolate. Next, we needed to work on the cookie. We use ground pretzel as part of the cookie. We wanted it to hold its shape and not become too crumbly, and we also wanted it to taste distinctively like pretzels.
You really focus on making ice cream sandwiches. Describe some of your favorite ice cream and cookie combinations.
We wanted to focus on ice cream sandwiches because it’s the childhood favorite that never really got its adult makeover. There was always just the vanilla ice cream on a chocolate wafer. I mean, everyone loves it (I do too!), but ice cream is so versatile and so are cookies. We wanted to see how we could upgrade this childhood treat by utilizing flavor combinations that we know work. Some of our favorites have been peanut butter and chocolate chip on a dark chocolate cookie, mint and chocolate chip on a dark chocolate cookie, cookie dough on a cookie dough, cereal milk on a cornflake cookie, and roasted banana and chocolate chip on a peanut butter cookie. Inspirations come from our childhood memories and personal experiences.
I noticed that your flavors reflect the seasons. What cookie and ice cream combos can we look forward to in the spring, summer, fall and winter?
Seasonal flavors are very important to us because the ingredients that constitute those ice creams are usually farm fresh and at their peak. In the spring and summer, we use a lot of fresh produce such as berries, corn, fresh herbs and other fruits. In the fall and winter, when selections are more limited, we use a lot of fruit butters (apple and pumpkin), tea and root vegetables.
What’s the most unusual ingredient you have used?
Nothing overly unusual just yet. However, Foolproof stout and Callebaut chocolate ice cream on a salty pretzel shortbread; bourbon and vanilla ice cream on a smoked chocolate shortbread; strawberry, basil and balsamic ice cream on a Madagascar vanilla shortbread; and black sesame ice cream on a green tea shortbread have been tossed around as more adult and adventurous flavors. Maybe those will be pulled from the flavor vaults and eventually make it into our rotation.
Right now we can only find you at farmer’s markets. Do you have plans to become more readily available?
Hopefully someday we can expand and be stocked in your favorite local stores. However, at the moment we really enjoy being at farmer’s markets and connecting with our customers on a personal level. They are really the ones who drive the product to become better because they are able to give their honest opinions.
Tricycle Ice Cream