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New Virginia Beach ice cream shop has local flavor

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VIRGINIA BEACH

“Local, local, local” is the mantra of a new ice cream shop at the Virginia Beach Farmers Market. Local ingredients, such as strawberries from Pungo. Local products, such as eggs. Even the Italian coffee comes from Suffolk.

And, in season, such non-plain-vanilla ice cream flavors as basil and lavender, from locally grown plants.

Gilly’s Creamery, owned by Gil and Carolyn Conner, opened May 15 offering a variety of homemade ice creams as well as Virginia-roasted organic coffees. The couple plans a grand opening this weekend. By then, they expect to have milk and cream from Homestead Creamery in Franklin County, eggs from Virginia Beach and cheese from various Virginia dairies.

“We are using Virginia products,” Carolyn said. “They’re fresher, and a lot of people are really into the local foods now.”

The Oceanfront residents also make their own ice creams, some of which they adapted from recipes Carolyn used at home. She credits her husband for researching how to adjust family recipes to a commercial-sized maker.

Now, the flavors include butter pecan, coconut, Heath Bar, peanut butter crunch, two kinds of cookie and a variety of fruits, including strawberries from Flanagan Farm in Pungo.

The couple hopes to feature other locally grown fruits as they come into season, as well as locally grown basil, lavender and pecans. They make their own waffle cones, and they also offer other ice cream concoctions, such as sundaes and milkshakes.

Coffees are available by the cup or pound, including Colonial Southern Pecan, prepared by Mrs. Bryant’s Specialty Foods of Williamsburg, and other flavors from Massimo Zanetti’s Suffolk plant.

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“I like to tell people that we have Italian coffee roasted in Suffolk,” said Eric Carlson, assistant manager.

The couple plans to install Wi-Fi and hopes to attract children’s birthday parties.

“We want this to be a fun, family place to hang out,” Carolyn said.

Gilly’s Creamery occupies the former shop of South Mountain Creamery, a Maryland dairy, which moved out in September. Hampton Roads-based dairies, including Bergey’s and Yoder’s, also sold products there.

Mel Atkinson, Virginia Beach rural community coordinator, said he’d been working for some time to attract a Virginia-based dairy. “We want to promote local products from Virginia,” he said.

Gil and Carolyn also are looking for pictures of Bergey’s or Yoder’s dairies, and they want to talk with anyone who has some.

Jane Bloodworth Rowe, jrowe28@cox.net, 268-2630

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