You know that scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where Violet is chewing gum and the flavors start morphing? That’s what it’s like to try any of the flavors that Curt Peterson makes at his Colfax Ave shop.
If you can, get there early as Smith + Canon’s unique flavors run out fast. It’s 11:00 am, 50° F outside and although I normally wouldn’t go for ice cream at this hour (or weather, for that matter), I’m not taking any chances.
I walk in and am immediately greeted by Jade, who hands me four different samples while telling me about each one. Notoriously absent is DewSabi, the flavor I kept reading about everywhere and what prompted my visit in the first place.
If you like your flavors on the milder side, the shop has your standard Vanilla & Chocolate, along with Butterbrickle, Peanutbutter Cup, Black Coffee, Thai Iced Tea, and their signature Foxy Brown. For the more adventurous, there’s Strawbeñero, El Chupacabra, and the famous DewSabi.
A single scoop in a dish is $3.75 + tax, and while some may find it a bit much, I have a strong feeling it is 100% worth it.
I picked my flavors and made my way to the patio, carefully balancing my frozen treats.
I settled on one scoop of Thai Iced Tea, one of El Chupacabra, and one of Foxy Brown.
First up is the Thai Iced Tea, which is super sweet from the condensed milk, and has a vaguely fruity flavor. If you’ve ever had real Thai iced tea, you’ll know what I’m talking about, which is also a testament to how great this flavor is. Once the initial sweetness subsides, you can taste mellow and smooth black tea.
Next is Foxy Brown. Immediately you can taste cream cheese tangier than your regular cheesecake. Vanilla lingers for a while and makes way for a kick of cinnamon. I can’t decide if it tastes more like cinnamon cheesecake or a cream cheese glazed cinnamon roll. Is this a great dilemma to have? Absolutely. I’m informed that it’s a cinnamon bun + cheesecake flavor, so there you have it.
I’ve left El Chupacabra for last, and I’m very glad I did. It’s a dark but very sweet Mexican chocolate. The chili hits almost immediately. Cayenne maybe? There’s cinnamon too, which is vaguely reminiscent of café de olla. Both the chili and cinnamon fight for dominance but the chili builds up and eventually wins.
Heading back into the shop I run into Curt himself, who hands me another two samples. Black Coffee tastes like every part of a coffee I do like, any trace of bitterness replaced with sweet cream and sugar. If all mornings tasted like this, I probably wouldn’t fall asleep at my 12 o’clock meetings.
Strawbeñero is an immediate hit of fresh strawberry, but cream based. The habanero settles in quickly and as much as I love it, I could not finish this if I wanted to. The same cream that mitigates the heat also brings it, creating a viciously delicious cycle of pain/relief/pleasure and a bizarre contradiction of hot and cold.
I push my luck and ask Curt about the DewSabi, and he tells me he’s just about to start making some. If I can swing by around 17:30, I should be able to get some.
At around 17:12, I’m running down Colfax Ave, and with the door being held open, rush into Smith + Canon’s once more to find Curt with a spoonful of ice cream already waiting for me. I try it and happily order a full scoop.
So here’s the deal: You may think you know wasabi but not like this. I pictured it as a water-based flavor, something like a sorbet, but just like his other flavors, it’s cream-based, yielding a very rich ice cream. Honeydew morphs into wasabi and back to honeydew, but saltier. The wasabi slowly creeps up the back of your tongue and doesn’t let go for a while. This is not an ice cream to scarf down. Pace yourself.
While alternating between spoonfuls of ice cream and gulps of water, Curt tells me how he started making ice cream about three years ago. Originally just for the family, “One day I decided I needed to sell fluids.” Besides ice cream, you can also grab one of many coffee concoctions including a spectacular (so I’ve heard) nitro cold brew or espresso, and pair them up with any of his flavors for a delicious affogato or float.
“It’s been really fun to share. It’s kinda scary when you do something a little different, they can just decide they do not like it. If they don’t like it, I lose.”
A few times a week, someone comes in and says, “This is the best ice cream I’ve ever had.” We strongly agree.
Located on 2260 E. Colfax Ave., Denver, CO., Smith + Canon is open daily from 10 am to 10 pm.