Gelato in an unlikely place
If one goes toward Baltimore on B&A Blvd., just after one passes under 895, there is a little strip mall (more like a chunk than a strip - only three or four tiny stores) on the right.
The one closest to Baltimore is named something like "Amazing Snow Desserts". Just another snowball stand, right? Not exactly.
It turns out that this guy is the regional dealer for some high-end commercial ice cream machines, and he claims to have places like MaggieMoo's and Cold Stone Creamery among the customers for his machines - he says Cold Stone alone bought around 500. This little storefront is his very informal showroom, his lab (for developing new flavors and recipes), and his hobby - he sells his "experiments", just for fun. It appears that he does snowballs, "soft serve" and gelato, all using flavorings and recipes of his own creation. For example, last night, I had a coconut gelato, and after getting my opinion on it, he mentioned that it's one of five recipes he uses for coconut - "Try it again the next time, it will probably be a little different".
In addition to getting samples of almost all the flavors of gelato on offer last night (he has about 8-10 in his serving cooler/counter) in addition to the coconut that I ordered (he likes to get feedback and show off his handiwork), I wound up hanging around and having a delightful conversation about the wonders of high-end computer controlled Italian (Carpigiani) ice cream machines, "over run" (the percentage of air content churned into ice cream, soft serve or gelato during the freezing process), the affect of temperature on taste sensation (you can't concoct an ice cream flavoring at room temperature and expect it to taste the same at ice cream temps) and so forth. Interesting factoid - these machines have calibration sensors that hook up to a satellite link back to the factory in Italy, so that the manufacturer can periodically check on and adjust calibration!
In addition, this fellow is a "professor" at Carpigiani's "Frozen Dessert University" . Yes, there is such a thing - do a web search.
The down side is that because this little shop is his show room, "I usually encourage people to get what they want and take it home - no sitting around." He kindly allowed me to hang out and chat, though - I guess I asked the right questions, and understood enough of the arcane details of ice cream and flavor development to be deemed sympatico. Also, "I'm open when I'm open. If you drive by and the light's on, come in. It's my hobby, and I'm often in Italy or on the road teaching or selling, so I'm here when I'm here."
If you're a chowhound who is interested in gelato and such, and if this guy takes a liking to you, it makes for a fascinating visit. At minimum, you get some very nice gelato at a reasonable price. And even if you get another flavor, at least sample "The Master" - his strawberry cheesecake gelato. He says it's the one flavor he almost always has - "The others, I can change, but people get *really* upset if I don't have that one!"
OK, so I work my way over to this place today, only to find a sign that says, Open 7 days a week, 2PM - 9PM and it is only 1:30 PM, so I go home. Return at 4 PM and the place still isn't open, and, frankly, kind of looks like it hasn't been open in a while. What gives?
Anyhow, it is exactly where Warthog says it is. The address is:
4501 Annapolis Road
Look for the 3 Bears Carryout sign.
So I ended up at my local fav place, Scoops on Mountain Road in Pasadena. I had the most luscious pralines and cream ice cream cone, so the trip wasn't a total loss.
As I noted in the original post, the hitch with this place is that the guy's real business is selling the gelato machines, and training people in using them. The storefront is his lab and the storage area for the machines. The advice he gave me was "If the light's on, stop in". It would be a goofy way to run a business, but selling gelato is a hobby/fun thing for him, whenever he's around long enough to make up a batch.
Thanks for clarifying the address. He's in the bay on the north end of the building - the door furthest left as you face the building from Annapolis Road.