Mobile boutique icecream: The Chameleon Icecreamery

16 Jun , 2020 Reviews,Tales,Tastings

The first time Gungahlin Homestead opened to the public, back in 2016, there was lots of community interest and the crowds matched this. I watched on enviously while people popped back into the queue in front of me with an ice-cream in hand. Then I was right in front of a sunny yellow van and became familiar with Chameleon Ice-creamery. I asked the strangers behind me to mind my spot in the queue and returned to my spot with an overflowing ice-cream cone full of mulberry goodness. The ice-cream was very light and fresh with a delicately balanced flavour. It was the type of ice-cream that is perfect for the height of summer but can be equally enjoyed during the final days of April.

Photo Credit – Chameleon Icecreamery

I didn’t manage to be in the right spot at the right time to have more Chameleon ice-cream until a chance meeting at the Hall Markets two years later. Hall is a small historic village on the edge of the Australian Capital Territory where popular markets are held once a month at the showgrounds.  I could barely contain my excitement when I spotted the van parked partially obscured by trees beside a footbridge. The flavour combinations of cottage flower ice-cream with a scoop of Easter egg ice-cream echoed my memories of the ice-cream previously experienced.

Cottage garden icecream at the Hall Markets

Rhonda Arnall is the proprietor and producer of the boutique homemade ice-cream that is the foundation of Chameleon Ice-creamery. She operated a restaurant for ten years, before venturing into making ice-cream herself. Rhonda revealed she taught herself without using recipes and discovered that ice-cream can be made from anything including goat’s milk and sheep’s yoghurt. That was 20 years ago. Since then she has developed a repertoire of between 200 and 300 different types of ice-cream and is constantly inventing more as well as winning awards. This includes gold and silver awards from the Royal Agricultural Society of N.S.W.

This has also developed as a result of catering for allergies so that people she knew could still experience the joy of ice-cream. Chameleon ice-cream is not made on a custard base, so it doesn’t include eggs. The base can be changed according to individual allergies and she has made ice-cream with soymilk, rice milk and almond milk and swaps the base around until she finds the combinations that work together. Some of these have included banana with a soya milk base, rice milk with berries and goat’s milk with mango.

Mulberry icecream produced from homegrown mulberries

Rhonda thrives on the challenge of unusual flavours and started with rose petal ice-cream. She has now branched out further with other floral flavours like lavender and cottage flowers. Rhonda proudly announced that she made Smarties ice-cream long before it appeared at McDonald’s. Through her experiments, she has learnt what doesn’t go together, and what does, without knowing the science behind it. She shared some of her discoveries which include:

– bananas whip up well for ice-cream as does pureed apple

– watermelon and pomegranate contain a lot of water and don’t roll as easily when scooping for serving

– plum and nectarine ice-cream is not as good as the sorbet equivalent.

Smoked honey ice-cream. Photo credit: Chameleon Icecreamery

Rhonda also develops themed menus that are based on the festival or event that she is catering for. Some of the more unusual flavours that have arisen from her festival days are smoked honey, purple potato and goat’s yoghurt. The smoked honey flavour was produced for a bee-keeping festival. The honey used came from a type of tree that produced a smoky taste. The Bungendore Harvest Festival resulted in purple potato ice-cream in honour of the potatoes that are grown in the area. The Science festival resulted in snot-green ice-cream. For the Crookwell Garden Festival, Rhonda has 4 or 5 flavours on hand including cottage garden, violets, sweet peas and chrysanthemums. Similarly, she has developed a menu for the Cowra Japanese festival that includes wasabi sorbet, mint, green tea, red bean and chocolate chilli. For weddings, she provides 2-3 flavours and develops themes based on the colour of the bridesmaid dresses or the theme of the wedding such as a bush theme.

One challenge fondly recalled by Rhonda is the Guinness ice-cream that came as the result of a request from visitors to the National Folk Festival and she sold a lot of the resulting ice-cream during the festival when it was sponsored by Guinness. She has also made Coopers Pale Ale sorbet in support of whatever beer is being promoted at the event and responds to the theme challenge with the philosophy of “what can I make that’s different for this one?” Rhonda reiterated that the theme adopted is what is requested by the vendor but highlights that there are events where a variety of flavours is provided.

Rhonda is a keen gardener who grows a lot of her own fruit such as mulberries, cherries and berries. Other produce used in the ice-cream is provided by friends or vendors at the festivals she attends. Rhonda mentioned as well that she does a lot more markets and festivals now than when she started and has done some events multiple times. She mentioned that there is a community amongst those who attend markets and festivals where insider knowledge is shared, and recommendations are made to the organisers. This saves time and effort and caters for last-minute dropouts for the organisers. On a related note, it is possible to check Facebook to see where Chameleon Ice-creamery will be going next, but Rhonda has also introduced a board on the van which highlights this information as well because she recognises that not everyone uses Facebook.

Sample of products advertised for sale by Chameleon Icecreamery

It would be a mistake to think that Chameleon ice-creamery only sells ice-cream. Other sweet tooth items on hand include old fashioned milkshakes, fruit juice slushies and twenty varieties of thick shakes. As with the ice-cream varieties on offer, Rhonda is always looking for something different and has developed lamington thick shakes for Australia Day and cherry ripe for the Young Cherry Festival. In her own words, a milkshake is only whipped up milk unless it has ice-cream in it. Rhonda’s professional tip for making milkshakes is to ensure that the milk used is ice cold. This is so that the milkshake stays cold while being consumed.

More information about Chameleon Icecreamery can be found on Facebook here:

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