Saturday, April 28, 2007

Tiny Maltby

Tiny Maltby a hot destination for foodies, shoppers, gardeners

Special to The Seattle Times


The Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream Co. is endorsed by the Snohomish County Sustainability Task Force as being environmentally friendly, and is also endorsed by kids who make their own ice cream and pizzas at birthday parties there.

Visiting tiny Maltby, on the road between Woodinville and Monroe, I learned things I didn't know before, such as:

• Sustainability is not boring, especially when it supports the production of Jack Daniels-flavored ice cream. • A local cafe got its Swedish pancake recipe from the cook's grandmother.

• And the horse Zhivago shares his barn with a wild spirit.

Maltby's very existence was a learning experience for me, since I'd never heard of it before, although it seems everyone else has. Small enough to qualify as a neighborhood, it's become quite the destination for urbanites up and down the Interstate 5 corridor. So far, Maltby manages to retain its rural origins even as it welcomes a thoroughly modern and enlightened business — the Snoqualmie Gourmet Ice Cream Co.

Environmentally conscious

Officially endorsed by the Snohomish County Sustainability Task Force as an environmentally friendly development, the ice-cream parlor and production plant are housed in what looks like a big red barn. In fact, it once was a split-level rambler that owners Barry and Shahnaz Bettinger refurbished, thus eliminating the need to raze existing buildings and then dispose of debris. Right off the bat, a lesson learned: Want what you have.

Other innovations: They got rid of the water-sucking lawn and installed a rain garden that grows plants to flavor some of the ice cream. Heat generated from machines is recycled to warm buildings and water. The nubbly parking lot and walkways are pervious concrete, which lets water seep in rather than run off, and underneath lies 14 inches of crushed rock, allowing surface pollutants to percolate and degrade.

"Our mission is to make things as good as they can be," said Barry Bettinger. "It's our responsibility to our customers, employees and community."

And making life itself sustainable is the glorious, gourmet ice cream. The parlor, once a garage, serves up dozens of creamy flavors. One that's popular with those over 21 is spiked with Jack Daniels.

While the business sells products to many restaurants, grocery stores and cafes, the parlor is its beating heart. A 1950s-era fireplace remains and behind a plate glass window shines the stainless-steel kitchen. That's where kids have birthday parties, making their own ice cream and pizzas, the perfect venue, Bettinger said, because "they can make a mess in there."

There's also a drive-through window. "We thought it would be for espresso," said Bettinger, "but it's usually moms with kids in car seats coming in for ice cream."

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