This kind of Polar Bear….
My husband discovered a delicious Mexican chocolate ice cream at Jardines de San Juan, a restaurant in San Juan Bautista. He loved it so much he inquired as to whose brand it was and he was told that it was made locally in Santa Cruz at Polar Bear Ice Cream. He decided that a trip out there was in order so he could check it out.
Our first time there, we were a little surprised to discover that the store is located in a small industrial section, just off of Cabrillo Highway. Not inconvenient to get to, but not as conventional as we expected.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a very cheerful young lady, Andra Aquino; who as it turns out, is the co-owner of the business along with her mother, Mary Young. Mary and Andra have owned the business for the past seven years; however, Polar Bear Ice Cream has been servicing the Santa Cruz area for more than 35 years. This is now a full-fledged family owned business as Mary’s husband, Jack, formerly in the high tech industry, retired and now runs the back office and keeps the books. A future generation may have even been on site the day I was there, as Andra had her small baby hanging out by her side soaking up the ways of the business.
Happy to have found the store, my husband purchased many quart containers of the ice cream and we trotted off.
So, in the rain, we drive over the hill to Santa Cruz to refill our inventory of Polar Bear ice cream. As Mary is packaging up the items, now double our original order, we begin chatting and discover that Polar Bear offers some incredible gourmet flavors that have been developed in conjunction with some local businesses. They have a flavor they developed with The True Olive Oil Connection called Blood Orange which is made with olive oil; and as strange as it may sound, I had a sample and it was so creamy good with a hint of orange ~ absolutely delicious. They also developed a really good Chai ice cream with The Black Flower Chai Company and Mary is now experimenting with a balsamic flavor which may be on the menu soon. She also created a flavor called Motor Cop Crunch at the suggestion of some local motorcycle cops who frequent the store which has become a popular flavor. (flavor list)
In support of local businesses, here’s a little shout-out to some of the companies they buy their ingredients from: Vanilla from The Vanilla Company in Santa Cruz; Olallieberries from Gizdich Ranch in Watsonville; Fresh Strawberries from Watsonville; Honey from Jeff Walls Bees & Honey in Soquel; Cookies from Pacific Cookie Company in Santa Cruz; Nuts from Henderson Nut Factory in Lafayette; and the brownies are made on site.
Many of you may have already tried this ice cream without evening knowing it, as Polar Bear is served at many restaurants within the Santa Cruz region such as The Crow’s Nest, Palapas, Betty Burgers and too many more to list (see here). Ever had the yogurt at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk or the ice cream at Marini’s at the Wharf or the Downtown locations? You guessed it, Polar Bear Ice Cream.
Until then, we’ll be making the trip over the hill to Polar Bear Ice Cream to keep our freezer stocked.