We caught up with Kris Warren, owner of An's Dry Cleaning, to learn more about the incredible effort that goes into each pint. And yes, in case you're confused, they offer some of the finest gelatos in town.

Tell us about ADC Gelato?

Our intention from the beginning was to be a company for San Diegans while also supporting local businesses. Amazing gelato starts with fantastic dairy. We purchase our dairy from the only dairy in San Diego County, Hollandia Dairy. There used to be over 35 dairies in San Diego County and now Hollandia is the only one left. The milk we use is so fresh it is in the cow 24 to 48 hours prior to us turning it into gelato. We get most of our fruits from Specialty Produce.

Collaboration with Paru Tea Bar including Moriuchi’s Sencha and Pineapple Sencha Gelato, Honey Orchid Oolong with Butter Crumble, and Thai Tea.

Are local partnerships important to you?

Whenever possible, we partner directly with local companies to do pop ups, create flavors, or design entire menus using their products. Some of the companies we’ve partnered with have been Jackie’s Jams, Paru Tea, Sugar Mama Caramel, Mia Sorella, Thick and Thin Cookie Co, Polite Provisions, Hawthorn Coffee, Domaine Sante, and Nomad Donuts to name a few.

Tell us about these flavor names. 

Going on the dry cleaning theme, we decided early on it would be really neat to name all of our flavors after fabrics. The experience of coming in and ordering a half Cotton and half Linen with starch seemed fun. Often, we’ll try a new flavor and it is obvious what fabric we should name it after. For example, we made a light sorbet with pear and apple cider that is very delicate so we named it lace. Our rice, milk, and cinnamon gelato is light, white and fluffy like cotton. Sometimes it’s more difficult, but we always try to find a fabric that matches the characteristics of the gelato or sorbet we’re naming it after.

Kimono-jasmine tea from Paru Tea Bar with blueberries. One of An’s most popular tea flavors.
Gabardine-banana and chocolate gelato. More than a dozen whole bananas in each batch drizzled with melted chocolate.
Kimono-jasmine tea from Paru Tea Bar with blueberries. One of An’s most popular tea flavors.
Gabardine-banana and chocolate gelato. More than a dozen whole bananas in each batch drizzled with melted chocolate.

What sets ADC gelato apart?

We make all our gelatos from scratch, on-site, nearly every day. Our menu is almost entirely gluten-free as well. We use a great gluten-free flour to make our cones and all baked mix-ins (cake, brownies, pie crusts). 

Every gelato starts with a base that combines milk, cream, and sugars. Most gelato shops use one base for all of their flavors because it’s easy. They can order it straight from their dairy or create huge batches of this base, then add chocolate, nuts, or other ingredients to make each flavor. While this is easier from a cost standpoint, you lose control over the taste and texture. For example, if you’re making a pistachio gelato and a chocolate gelato, the pistachios have more fat and the chocolate has different characteristics than pistachios, so the base should be different for each one. 

Gelato making requires a lot of chemistry. You need to balance the amount of solids and liquids just right to get the perfect texture, temperature, and taste. We create a completely new recipe for every one of our flavors with multiple rounds of R&D (research and development). Once we like the texture, the mouth feel, how quickly it melts on your tongue, the flavor balance, etc., the recipe goes into production. We have to create a new base with different dry ingredients and dairy just for that one flavor. Then we produce the gelato one batch at a time versus in huge quantities.

Collaboration with Specialty Produce: Each flavor was named after the people at Specialty who came up with the gelato idea. For the gelato named Nick in this photo, the team browned high quality butter, made their own whey, and combined with squash blossoms and nectarine for a rich, but well-balanced gelato.

Tell us about your commitment to fresh ingredients.

If you walked into most gelato shops you would see canisters of items like pistachio paste, coconut flavoring, and chocolate sauce. We create the majority of these completely from scratch in our shop. Sometimes we will partner with a local company, such as Jackie’s Jams, to use their jam to mix into the gelato. If we are making a pistachio gelato, we buy the pistachios raw and chop them up to release the natural oil and fats inside them and create our own pistachio paste to use in the gelato. 

For our triple chocolate gelato, Brocade, we melt the chocolate and make brownies from scratch. Then we make our own chocolate ganache from scratch. The dark chocolate gelato is made one batch at a time with the fresh ganache and brownies added bit by bit. All of this takes lots of time and preparation. Every flavor we put on our menu is carefully planned to make sure the raw ingredients are available, delicious (in season), and enough time is given to prep them to be made into gelato. 

Three popular flavors: Plush (watermelon & mint), Silk (candied almond & sage), and Gabardine (banana & chocolate).

Stop by An’s Dry Cleaning today to try their amazing gelato or order your pint online before you arrive.

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