I love it here. I may never leave! Look at the view of the sunset from my room last night. Gorge!
Ok – Wells Blue Bunny Blogger Summit 2K10!!!!
First of all, let me just tell you how incredibly nice, thoughtful and caring all the employees of Wells (the company that owns the Blue Bunny Ice Cream name) and their associates have been to us bloggers. As if coming up here for two days of pure indulgence wasn’t enough, they had to go and be the nicest people on earth, to boot!
We got things started this morning with breakfast at the Well’s owned Habitue Coffeehouse & Creperie in downtown Le Mars.
The eatery is owned by Mike & Cheryl Wells, of the Wells Blue Bunny family, and all profits are funneled into a private ministry foundation they started for the community. Nice!
The inside is so cozy – like being in a friend’s living room.
I could have stayed and cozied up in one of the overstuffed couches and chairs they had around the place for hours. But I had things to do, and ice cream to eat.
Peach Amaretto Crepes, too!
Thin, chewy and smothered in freshly sautéed peaches, almonds and a sprinkling of powdered sugar. So delectable.
We all enjoyed our breakfast while listening to Dave Smetter, Senior Director of Corporate Marketing & Communications, educate us about the Wells company. For such a big title, he was such a laid back and approachable guy. The best kind!
He told us how the company got started (over 95 years ago as a local milk delivery service,) how Wells Blue Bunny Ice Cream got its name (an entry in a “name that ice cream contest” from a father who noticed how much his son liked the blue bunnies on display at the local department store around Easter,) and how much the employees of the company loved their jobs, among other things!
After breakfast, it was off to the ice cream factory for the big tour!
This is me covered in head-to-toe, factory tour required gear. Please don’t blackmail me with this photo later…
Sweet news (pun intended) – we’ve actually had an event photographer following us around all day, and since we weren’t able to take any personal photographs inside the factory, I’ll share the professional shots when they give them to us tomorrow!
After the tour (think pipes, holding tanks and lots – and LOTS – of ice cream, popsicles, ice cream bars and ice cream sandwiches, including some that we got to eat FRESH FROM THE LINE!!!!!) we, thankfully, ditched our getups and headed over to corporate headquarters. What a beautiful building!
I was impressed.
The rest of the bloggers were too!
The story goes that as Wells began to grow, they’d slowly buy building after building in the community, to hold all its employees and operations.
At one point, their employees were driving a mile away for meetings in different buildings, so in 2007 they finally built the facility we were in today, to hold everyone in one spot.
Oh look, they had a welcome message to us bloggers on the flat screen televisions around the lobby! So great!
After arriving, we were whisked off to lunch prepared by Wells’ Corporate Chef John Kennedy. John has a culinary arts degree and is also a Certified Culinary Scientist – one of only 70 in the world! He is a down home Nebraska boy, though, and couldn’t be more down to earth and ridiculously NICE.
There was an intimate table set up in the middle of his kitchen for us. The menu was titled “Ice Cream for Lunch”. Ummm, yes please.
Seriously though – there was Blue Bunny Ice Cream worked into every one of the 5 courses (!) we had for lunch.
Starting with the aperitif (the appetizer’s appetizer): Blue Bunny Strawberry Spritzer.
Chef took Blue Bunny Strawberry Ice Cream and blended it with fresh mint, fresh strawberries and club soda.
Then he processed some mint chocolate chip ice cream that had been frozen solid in dry ice, to sprinkle on top. It was kind of like mint chocolate chip ice cream dust. So cool!
Mmmm – refreshing, sweet and that fresh mint totally POPPED!
Next was our Amuse Bouche: Citrus Ceviche.
Ceviche happens to be one of my very favorite things in the entire world, so I was so pumped to see this on the menu!
Fresh scallops & prawns mixed with lemon sorbet, then added to tomatoes and cucumbers that the chef had picked up from the local farmer’s market the day before! So light and refreshing. Plus, you know how I feel about scallops!
Our Salad Course was next.
UMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM. Panko-breaded & fried Maytag Bleu Cheese balls, candied walnuts, homemade croutons and clementines over local, organic greens and topped with a raspberry sorbet vinaigrette!
Look at the oozy meltage!!! Crispy, tangy and amazing. I absolutely loved that it was Maytag bleu cheese too – another Iowa delicacy!
Best salad ever.
By this time I was feeling pretty full – but I somehow made room for two more courses. Starting with our entree: roasted chicken with whipped, baby Yukon gold potatoes, fresh asparagus and a citrus buere blanc sauce.
I’ve run out of adjectives, but let me tell you that this sauce was lemon-butter AMAZINGNESS and those potatoes!!! These were chef-made mashed potatoes, that’s for sure.
He topped the roasted chicken, marinated in raspberry sorbet, with fried local cabbage which I would have never thought to do in a million years. It was chewy and salty – so fabulous.
Ok, last course – dessert!
A trio of ice cream novelties, obvi, finished right in front of our eyes.
One even came adorned with edible gold leaf. Fance!
This was a Chocolate Cherry Cordial.
A White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Lollipop complete with WCMN ice cream in the center.
And a Chocolate Covered Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Sandwich! Got that?!
By this time, I was full. I mean, I. Was. Full. But so impressed! You could tell Chef John was an innovator. Someone who LOVED his job and whose mission in life is to find the craziest, most clever way to use ice cream. I think he may have hit the nail on the head with lemon sorbet in my ceviche. Genius, I say!
As full as I was at that point, I somehow found a way to say yes to this:
Which made me feel like this:
More details to come on exactly what you are seeing in the above photographs, plus photos from the plant tour, a scientific taste testing session at headquarters, and much more!
I’m off to rest and attempt to conjure up an appetite for dinner with the group tonight. Thanks again to the Wells Blue Bunny employees for such an amazing day!