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Elbow eventually wants to sell his ice cream to other cities. In February 2008, he unveiled a satellite chocolate store in San Francisco, after discovering that a high concentration of his Web sales came from that area. He found a willing local partner in CocoaBella Chocolates, and it's a natural spot to put his ice cream. He's curious about other cities, too, particularly Portland, Oregon, and Seattle.
"You'd have the Glacé experience, just with regional ingredients," Elbow says. "I'd love to be in Napa, not just for the wine but because of all they grow out there."
The technology to significantly increase production of his chocolates doesn't exist, but ice cream can be produced in larger batches and be held for longer periods of time without losing quality, he says. With a new production facility on Southwest Boulevard, he seems ready to teach people all over the metro how to pronounce Glacé.
"You don't want to get so big that the quality goes down," Jenifer Elbow says. "The minute you have your product everywhere, it isn't the same. We talk about just how big we need to be."
The ice cream, made in what Elbow calls a "French custard style," is designed to highlight the essential characteristics of each flavor after a base of milk fat, egg yolk and sugar has been established for texture. His search for the best sources means that his vanilla beans have come from Tahiti and Mexico and, right now, from Madagascar. (There's always a little bit of extract, too, which he says "makes all the difference.") And his constant tinkering leads him to regular discoveries: for one, the notion that the Roasterie's Ethiopian blend neatly brings out the flavors in his blueberry-cream-cheese ice cream while accentuating the fruit notes in the coffee.
The Roasterie is one of Elbow's partners. His chocolate is sold in Roasterie's cafes, and Roasterie coffee is sold at Glacé on Main. The partnership was born out of a chance meeting in New York City, when Roasterie founder Danny O'Neill ran into Elbow in Times Square and wondered why they'd never paired coffee and chocolate. They attended Penn State's Ice Cream Short Course in January 2010, and O'Neill lent Elbow the use of his trucks for setting up the first ice-cream freezer on Main Street.
"Christopher is successful because he's curious," O'Neill says. "He's always pushing boundaries, and I love that."
Elbow has a specific approach to ice cream. He serves it only in cups, and the toppings are limited to two sauces: chocolate and caramel.
"I've just never been a cone guy," Elbow says. "I didn't want that overpowering smell of cones when you walked in."
Still, there are signs that he won't leave the freezer case alone forever. He's working on ice-cream bars in four flavors (one of them: a blackberry-swirl ice cream that's flash-frozen, dipped in chocolate and rolled in almonds). And he's reconsidering sundae toppings, but nothing you'd find at Dairy Queen. At the top of his list: olive oil and sea salt, the savory elements he first embraced during his line-cook days. It's also perhaps a concession to sugar-shock buffets like Mochi-Yo and Yogurtini. Elbow admits that the latter, a neighbor of his Main Street store, has hurt sales a bit.
Not every experiment will make it out of the back room. Elbow is still trying to perfect a Neapolitan, one that would give the eater a layer of chocolate, strawberry and vanilla in a single scoop. The staff has also been treated to batches of avocado, glazed doughnut, and Cap'n Crunch.