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Chilly Choices 

This Valley ice cream shop makes it hard to pick just one

Customers lean over the glass, examining the 48 flavors of ice cream with the scrutiny of diamond cutters. An employee hands over a sample and says with a laugh that they definitely don't brag about being a low-fat ice cream shop.

That's because at Pete and Belle's Ice Cream Shop, the ice cream is super-premium, meaning the dessert contains a low percentage of air and high butterfat content.

When ice cream is made, air is whipped into the mixture to keep it from being a frozen block. The amount of air — called the overrun — determines the ice cream's density. With a maximum 20-percent overrun and a minimum 14-percent butterfat, Pete and Belle's ice cream is quite dense.

"That combined makes it smooth and creamy in your mouth," says Aaron Blackmer, who owns the shop and the adjacent Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory with his wife Rachelle. The couple named the shop after their children, Peter and Annabelle, who can never agree on a favorite ice cream.

Beyond the 48 flavors on display, there are more than 130 flavors that can be rotated in. The Snap-O-Lantern — a spicy pumpkin flavor with gingersnap cookies — and the Caramel Apple Pie are a couple of the seasonal choices. Eggnog is on its way.

We tried the Zanzibar chocolate ice cream, made with three kinds of cocoa, giving it a fudge-brownie flavor. The taste was deep, dark and definitely smooth, and the ice cream was substantial even without any customary fillings like chocolate chips or peanut butter cups.

One scoop of three caffeinated chocolate flavors — Iced Latté-Da, Heaps of Gold and Peanut Butta — equals the amount of caffeine in a 16-ounce Red Bull, Blackmer says. There's even a flavor for beer drinkers. The Scotch Ale Caramel Crunch is made with Stone of Scone ale, caramel ripple and Heath pieces.

Kids also have a lot to choose from, including a red, yellow and blue Superman flavor and the bright Blue Moon flavor that tastes just like the milk left behind from a bowl of Fruit Loops.

Sizes come in bowls or cones with a kid's scoop ($1.99), single scoop ($2.40) or double scoop ($3.85). The menu goes on from there, with shakes, malts, floats, sundaes, even ice cream cakes. ♦

Pete and Belle's Ice Cream Shop • 1330 N. Argonne Road, Suite C, Spokane Valley • Open Mon-Sat, 10 am to 8 pm; Sun, 11 am to 6 pm • petebelles.com • 924-4718

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