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Kitsilano now has a bonafide, quality ice cream shop, right on West 4th Avenue near Cypress. Rain Or Shine is owned by East Van husband and wife team Josie Fenton and Blair Casey. Recently married, the couple have varied backgrounds (finance and teaching), both of which surely come in handy when opening a business as well as educating the public about high-end, locally-sourced products that go into their incredibly tasty ice cream.

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The name ‘Rain or Shine’ sums up Vancouverites’ mentality: We don’t let a little rain stop us from getting out, nor enjoying tasty ice cream during the winter.

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I asked Josie and Blair how the shop came together. It was a shared love of ice cream. There’s always room for dessert in their home; through travels, they came to love homemade ice cream, inspiring them to open a shop. At home, they’ve a smaller ice cream machine, where for the past year, they’ve been experimenting with various recipes and inviting friends over to sample their creations. As mentioned earlier, neither have a culinary background (she’s a teacher, he’s in finance), yet their shop is already gathering a local following.

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[Emery Thompson ice cream machine with a good-luck horseshoe above on the wall]

On this sunny weekend afternoon, folks were streaming in the entire time I visited.

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[The ‘hockey stick’ flight: Pumpkin Spice, Cinnamon, Ginger, Chocolate]

The menu offers 15 flavours at a time (“Keepers”) out of which five are rotating “Seasonal Flings”. Craft beer lover Blair has one beer-flavoured fling per season and if he has his way, all five rotating flavours will be made from beer during 2014 Vancouver Craft Beer Week.

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Organic and Fair Trade ingredients join espresso beans from JJ Bean, lavender from Maple Ridge, blueberry-infused balsamic vinegar reduction from Vancouver Olive Oil, blueberries from Driediger Farms, stout from Brassneck Brewery and porter from Powell Street Brewery (that creation is completely sold out).

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No chemicals are used, only fresh, sustainable ingredients that combine with full-cream ice cream and a lower sugar volume, allowing the ingredients to shine through. Each flavour I sampled is dense in flavour and true to its ingredients, rather than being overly sweet.

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In addition to classic vanilla and chocolate is a rotating seasonal assortment of unique flavours such as Spiced Apple Sorbet (vegan-friendly) and Brassneck Brewery Stout for fall. The unpasteurized apple cider that goes into the vegan sorbet is sourced from Taves Family Farms in Abbotsford.

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My favourite flavours? Blueberry Balsamic, Salted Caramel, Cinnamon, and Powell Street Porter (though not necessarily in that order).

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The couple are currently tweaking their holiday flings. I hear that mulled wine sorbet (using wine from Vancouver Urban Winery) and egg nog are going to make the hit list.

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Rain or Shine is also home to Vancouver’s first ice cream taco ($6), available on Taco Tuesday. Other delights include homemade waffle cones, flights of four sample ice cream flavours ($9), vegan options, and Josie’s Fav ($7), local candied hazelnuts over organic peanut butter and chocolate ice cream served with whipped cream. Are you still at home reading this? Why?!

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The interior shows off Canadiana at its finest, right down to the Canadian Indie music played over the sound system. The counters and tables are made from reclaimed wood from the Olympic Village, while the milk bottle lamps are sourced from antique milk bottles, fitted by a lampshade shop down the street.

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Rain or Shine makes use of compostable packaging, and uses local non-profit green electricity supplier Cowpower, helping BC farmers turn manure and food waste into clean, renewable energy by capturing the methane from both.

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Open for just over two weeks at the time of this writing, Rain or Shine is located at 1926 West 4th Avenue in Vancouver’s Kitsilano. They’re open from noon to 10 pm, Tuesday to Sunday, and closed on Monday. Stop in during Black Friday from November 29 to December 1, when the shop will offer free toppings on all orders. Go for the scrumptious candied hazelnuts!

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