Sweet Alchemy. Photo by JiaYing Grygiel
Sweet Alchemy scoops the University District
Lois Ko started working as a scooper at the Häagen-Dazs on the Ave in 2001, when she was a student at the University of Washington. She bought the ice cream store in 2006, a year after graduating. Then last year, she broke away from the franchise and re-opened as Sweet Alchemy.
There’s none of that corporate feeling left. From the fabric-draped ceiling to the floor that's tiled in actual pennies, every inch of the store has Ko’s personal stamp. Especially the ice cream.
Take the blueberry lavender. Ko went blueberry picking with her daughter (now 7), and was pregnant with her son (now 2). “I could taste everything,” she says. The blueberries suggested flowers to her, and inspired the flavor pairing.
The Persian rose flavor grew out of customer suggestions. A Lebanese neighbor recommended adding rosewater to the cardamom ice cream, then Iranian customers suggested pistachio. The result? A fragrant, not-too-sweet combination that you’ll be thinking about long after it’s devoured.
Local ingredients are a priority: The blueberries are from Kent, the milk comes from Lynden. Each morning at the store, they crack open 80 to 100 eggs and re-pasteurize the milk with egg yolk for the organic base. On the back of every employee’s shirt is their recipe: milk, cream, sugar and egg yolk. It’s sweet alchemy, indeed.
Find it: 4301 University Way N.E., Seattle, in the University District
Nearby fun: Plan your visit for a Sunday, when street parking and UW campus parking are free. Also free on Sunday: admission to the Henry Art Gallery, a contemporary art museum on the edge of campus (4100 15th Ave. NE.) that has monthly family events.