After 30 years in project management and interiors, Jane Novis felt like a change. When a stint as Commodore at the Glendowie Yacht Club came to an end and premises came up in a small local parade, Jane jumped at the chance. Not quite a novice - as a family background in owning the Kaukapakapa General Store had in some ways prepared her for the ups and downs of running a small business - Jane looked for a point of difference and found it in her love of Italian icecream and gelati.
"When I looked into it I found a natural icecream was hard to find and, as I believe in using only natural local ingredients wherever possible, it seemed that producing gelati and icecream in small batches that made use of whatever was in season was something that wasn't being done.
"I do use a high-quality imported Italian paste for the liquorice, chocolate, rose and violet flavours but where possible what you get is what is available locally."
Essential oils flavour and scent the lavender and bergamot; chilli and honey combine with cream cheese to produce the Fire and Ice; strawberry and other fruit flavours are what you would expect - fruit, water, sugar and not a lot else.
The difference between a gelato and icecream, Jane explains is that gelato is made with milk or water instead of cream, so is lower in fat. This results in a denser texture and a more intense flavour.
Both her icecream and gelato can be made into celebration cakes on order, a gluten-free alternative to the traditional flour and egg-based cake. "It seems that more and more people these days seem to have some sort of intolerance, so we are always making them to fulfil specific orders."
At the moment Jane is keeping things small, supplying her gelati and icecream to Toto's Restaurant in the CBD and selling the rest from her deli. Batches vary between two and 10 litres and can be transported in an ice-filled chilly bin.
Jane hopes to expand in the next six months when a larger commercial kitchen is due to become available locally. Then, with the help of her son George, her products will be available at food markets around Auckland and, she hopes, high-end boutique grocers.
Until then, with seven days a week at Spencers and churning out stock - literally - for customers, she's kept pretty busy.
When invited to try from the selection in the cabinet I dithered, finally settling on the darkest chocolate I'd ever seen with scoops of rose and bergamot. The pleasure was intense and when I later offered up the Fire and Ice at home, the reaction was the same - groans of pleasure and demands to know where I'd found it.
Where to buy
Spencer's Delicatessen, Gelateria, Espresso. 7 Roberta Ave, Glendowie, Ph (09) 585 1448, 027 252 2296.