July is officially Indie Retail Month, a time to celebrate and connect with local independent businesses.With Hannah Zakari being situated close to Edinburgh’s Grassmarket, we’re spoilt for choice being surrounded by cool, indie businesses and love the variety of restaurants, shops and bars on offer in the area.
We thought we’d share some of our favourites on the blog, starting with Mary who opened Mary’s Milk Bar about a year ago. We’ve become slightly *too* dependant on her gelato (she does takeaway too!) and she also makes a delicious range of chocolates. Steph spoke to Mary to find out a little bit more about the Milk Bar…
Mary serving gelato from behind the counter.
How did you get into gelato making? Have you always wanted to open a shop or did it just sort of happen?
I worked as a chocolatier for five years and fancied a change. Having no luck in getting a job(who knew a tapestry degree and knowledge of soft centres weren’t what the job market was looking for), I decided to create my own job. I have frequented many milk bars in my time and one thing lead to another and the shop was born. I went to Bologna’s Gelato University for a February course in gelato algebra, found the perfect location in May and opened the shop in July!
What is a milk bar?
Milk Bars were an Australian invention, adopted by Britain after the first world war. Milk was subsided by the government so that the bars could provide cheap, nourishing meals to the young. They became a haven for the new teenage generation, serving milkshakes, milk soups (erm no comment), and dairy ice cream. Many still exist or have morphed into greasy spoons or Fish and Chip shops.
An example of delicious daily gelato offerings!
What is the difference between gelato and ice cream?
Gelato is the Italian’s word for ice cream. However, those Italians know that only the best, freshest ingredients make the most delicious ice cream. Britain, until recently, only really enjoyed a Mr Whippy at the seaside or a tub of yellow dairy ice cream at home and never ventured beyond that. Convenience took precedence over quality. Gelato should only use fresh milk and/or cream, fresh fruit and no colourings or preservatives. It means the shelf-life is greatly reduced but, hey, it tastes good!
What’s your typical working day like?
As time goes on, I’m getting better at making gelato. Now I can just about manage to make everything in about 2 or 3 hours in the morning and open by 11am. On those sunny days, you may have spotted me making more throughout the day – now that’s fresh! I sell the gelato through the afternoon, sampling as I go along of course, finish by 6 or 7 pm and toddle off home to watch some Law and Order repeats.
The exterior of Mary’s Milk Bar.
What are your favourite places to visit in Edinburgh?
Machina Espresso for a morning coffee
Lovecrumbs for a cherry brownie
Hannah Zakari for many treats I shouldn’t partake in and presents I buy for others and keep for myself
Drill Hall for flea markets
Blackfriars for a nice tea
Hanging Bat for ultimate nacho craving
Falko for a slice of something to devour at home
My walk to and from the Grassmarket for dog/people watching
And last but certainly not least…Your fave gelato flavour?
It’s hard to pick a top flavour but here’s a few I can’t hold back from…
Black Sesame Seed, White Chocolate and Thyme, Dark Chocolate, Raspberry Sorbet, Toasted Coconut, White Chocolate, Chilli and Lime, Hazelnut when floating atop of a hot chocolate….
Inspired by the cool 50’s style of Mary’s Milk Bar, and the lovely lady herself; we’ve created a Milk Bar style outfit on Polyvore!
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We’ve blended (!) the style of Mary’s Milk Bar with some cool ice-cream inspired accessories we sell in the shoppe!