Former Investment Banker Brings Popular Arlington Ice Cream Shop To Maryland

When it comes to making ice cream, sherbert, and sorbets, Rollin Amore has a very simple strategy: To make good flavors. He makes unique ones, too.

Rollin Amore says that if it inspires him, he'll make an ice cream about it.

Rollin Amore says that if it inspires him, he'll make an ice cream about it.

Photo Credit: Mimi's Handmade

“I come up with each flavor,” said Amore, “and if it doesn’t pass my test, I throw it out.”

The method to Amore's madness seems to work, as the 70-year-old owner will soon be bringing his Arlington ice cream shop Mimi's Handmade—named after one of his daughters—to Rockville, MD.

By late July or early August, Amore plans to have at least two more Mimi’s Handmade shops open—the one in Rockville, MD and another in Fairfax. By the end of the year, he’s planning for three more in Virginia.

A Washington, D.C. resident since 1980, Amore says he began cooking as a 7-year-old. His mother became ill for a period and would shout directions out at him from her bed on how to prepare dinner for his father.

“I haven’t stopped cooking since,” said Amore. “And I never use a recipe.”

Working in the food industry wasn’t always on Amore’s mind, however. Raised in an Italian neighborhood in New Haven, CT, he had a brief stint as an engineer before going on to a successful 40-year career in investment banking where he found himself predominantly in China and Southeast Asia. The flavors of the area have even influenced his ice creams.

Szechuan Spicy Girl, for instance, uses roasted brown pepper corns—a staple of Szechuan cooking—and adds chili oil and peanuts to an ice cream base.

“It tastes like you’re eating hotpot at a Szechuan restaurant,” said Amore. “It’s an unusual flavor, and people love to try it. It’s my one savory flavor.”

You’ll always find 10 or so core flavors based on chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla at Mimi’s Handmade. Original flavors—like Wasabi Pea, made for the Lunar New Year—rotate in and out.

What makes them all different is that Amore never uses flavorings.

“Virtually every other ice cream maker out there uses flavorings,” he said. “I only use ingredients to get my flavors.

“My butterscotch is real butterscotch; I make it and put it into my ice cream. I make the caramel that goes into my ice cream. I don’t know of any others that take my approach aside from boutiques.”

Roasted Banana only makes an appearance on Sundays at Mimi’s Handmade because it takes six hours to create the banana base.

You also won’t find “aggregated” flavors at his shop.

“You won’t see cookie dough or brownie batter with almonds,” Amore said. “I want my flavors to sing out and for people to feel that flavor. I don’t want to hide my flavors in sugar and candies or whatever.”

If it inspires him, he’s likely to make an ice cream about it. Last year a mint flavor appeared on the menu after Amore was struck by its fresh smell in a supermarket, where he was shopping for something else.

His favorite flavor is Coconut. To make it, Amore uses a sweet coconut cream, taught to him by his Thai mother-in-law, as the base. Corn Custard comes in as a very close second.

“I’ve discovered that any vegetable with a little bit of sweetness has a great ice cream flavor,” Amore added.

Once when looking to retirement, Amore dreamed of sailing the world on his 30-foot sailboat, but now it’s all about ice cream.

“I have a lot of pride in what I do; I have a passion for it. This is a labor of love and every day I think of new ice creams.

“Ice cream makes everyone happy—employees, customers, and the owner. It’s the best business in the world!”

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