Saturday, May 20, 2017

Tipsy Scoop

There is a brand new ice cream "barlour" in Kips Bay serving up boozy ice cream, and it's creating quite a buzz.  Tipsy Scoop started out making ice cream for wholesale and catering, and now you can purchase their alcoholic treats by the scoop at their just opened brick and mortar location.  When I was there Tipsy Scoop had only been open a week, but word has clearly gotten out.  I rely on rainy days to beat the rush at popular ice cream parlors, but on this soggy day, the place was packed to the pint!  I guess customers are more likely to brave the rain when they all have to be 21+ to enter.
While I was taking this picture, someone headed in asked me if I was even 21.  Greg responded with "are you?"
Bird's eye view of the crowd courtesy of special guest Brianna.
We squeezed in the door and waited a long time in a very slowly moving line.  The menu board indicated that three flavors, including the Chocolate Stout Pretzel that I had been looking forward to trying, were sold out.  No problem there, I still had a hard time narrowing down my choices, as so many of the flavors sounded delicious.  I decided to order a flight so that I could sample four.  When I got to the counter, I was told I couldn't get a flight, because they were just too labor intensive to make.  "But I see other people with them, they look beautiful, I was really looking forward to one." I tell them.  Nope, too much work.  Instead they will serve two scoops in two cups each.  The good news is that they only charged me for a 2 scoop ice cream, which is less than their flight.  The bad news is that while we were eating, I saw another beautiful flight walk by me.  What's that about? Good to know I'm not worth the effort. 
Here is a picture of a flight from the Tipsy Scoop Twitter page.
This is what I was served.  You can understand my disappointment.
What I got: Boozy "Flight" - Tequila Mexican "Hot" Chocolate, Spiked Hazelnut Coffee, Spiked Mint Chocolate Chip, and Raspberry Limoncello Sorbet

What Greg got: Sandwich - chocolate chip cookies with Spiked Hazelnut Coffee Ice Cream

What special guest Brianna got: Spiked Mint Chocolate Chip and  Dark Chocolate Whiskey Salted Caramel in a cup

Please note: All of the listed flavors have real booze in them and contain up to 5% ABV.  The menu says that they do have non-alcoholic ice cream available.  We didn't ask.  The menu also says that sprinkles and cherries are complimentary.  I didn't notice that until we were already eating, and the servers didn't offer.

Everyone's favorite was the Tequila Mexican "Hot" Chocolate.  The flavor was spot on.  You can taste the tequila and a little bit of spice, but neither are overpowering.  As delightful as the flavor was, the ice cream itself was super melty (the one on the right in the above picture) and that made it goopy and difficult to eat.  I didn't want to rush my eating to prevent making a mess; I wanted to enjoy it! The Raspberry Limoncello Sorbet was also very enjoyable.  It would be a perfect summer backyard party cool down treat, if anyone in NYC had a backyard.  The flavors were balanced, the booze was present but again, not overwhelming, and it felt good to eat. 

The other flavors were all underwhelming.  The Spiked Mint Chocolate Chip had a very mild mint flavor and I couldn't taste the booze, let alone tell you what it was.  The Spiked Hazelnut Coffee clearly wanted to evoke the flavor of Baileys, but again was very mild; neither the hazelnut nor coffee flavors particularly had a chance to shine.  As for the Dark Chocolate Whiskey Salted Caramel, the first two elements were definitely there.  You could taste the chocolate and the whiskey, and it was quite good.  The salted caramel was, however, completely lost.  If they had left that out of the description, this would be a perfectly fine flavor.  As it is, if you think you are getting salted caramel and you can't find it, that can be disappointing. 
Greg biting into his ice cream sandwich brilliantly photobombed by Brianna
Greg's ice cream sandwich also didn't measure up, and that I mean literally.  It was a very small treat, for a not very small treat price.  The cookie-to-ice cream ration was way off... too much cookie and and not enough cream.  Or maybe it was not enough cookie and really not enough cream (did I mention it was small?).  The cookies were hard, which lends itself to shattering while eating, which as anyone who has eaten an ice cream sandwich knows, just means a mess. 

All and all, I don't think I will be heading back to Tipsy Scoop.  While some of the flavors were quite enjoyable, there was a bit too much disappointment in this ice cream adventure, and I just don't like being made to feel that I am a second class ice cream consumer. 

The Rundown:
Where: Tipsy Scoop
217 East 26th Street
New York, NY 10010
What they're known for: Alcoholic Ice Cream
A single cup: $4.50
Most Extreme Menu Item: Cake $75 (takes 5 days)
Non-ice cream menu options: Coffee (iced or hot) and bagged toppings

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Eddie's Sweet Shop

Nostalgia Alert!  This ice cream adventure takes a wonderful wander down memory lane to a street corner in Forest Hills, Queens.  Eddie's Sweet Shop is an old school soda fountain where everything - the ice cream, syrups, toppings, and whipped cream - are all hand made.  Ice cream has been served here for over 100 years.  The store has had a few different names and owners in that time, but the spirit remains.  What makes Eddie's a success is a commitment to quality.
Eddie's Sweet Shop has all the classic ice cream flavors you love.  While you can just get a scoop of ice cream, I've never actually seen anyone do that.  Once you walk in and see what everyone else is enjoying, you will want to order big.  I highly encourage it.  The toppings really help take things - well - over the top.  A few tips on ordering:
  • Sauces like hot fudge or caramel are considered toppings along with sprinkles, fruit, nuts, etc, but syrups are their own category
  • Since Eddie's makes their own syrups and has a real soda jerk, you can order a soda in any combination of flavors, and you should.  
  • Eddie's uses different definitions for ice cream drinks then you might be used to.  They spell it all out in the menu, but beware before you order:
    • An ice cream soda is soda (any flavor, remember) with a scoop of ice cream
    • A milkshake (which they have different thicknesses of depending on how many scoops of ice cream you want in it) is ice cream, syrup, and milk; blended
    • A float is a MILKSHAKE with a SCOOP of ICE CREAM in it... just let that sink in

Ok, now that your mouth is watering....
What I got: Banana Split with Chocolate and Strawberry Ice Cream, Chocolate Syrup, banana, whipped cream, sprinkles, and a cherry, and a cherry lime soda

What Greg got: 1 Scoop Sundae with Coffee Chip Ice Cream, butterscotch, whipped cream, and a cherry, and a chocolate egg cream

All of the ice cream creations at Eddie's Sweet Shop are served on little metal plates.  This is crucial, for you will have an overflow of toppings and ice cream tumble down from their pedestal as you dive in.  The dishes add to the nostalgia and let you know that you are about to enjoy something special.  Not to worry, napkins are well supplied. 

Have I mentioned that everything is handmade at Eddie's Sweet Shop?  Everything is handmade at Eddie's Sweet Shop.  It is such a treat to have real whipped cream, floating on top of genuine chocolate sauce, drizzled over simple yet rich and fulfilling ice cream, and in this case, resting on bites of banana.  I couldn't decide between chocolate and rainbow sprinkles, so they were kind enough to give me both.  Yes, I could have gone with different flavors, but everything about this place calls for a classic and it was about time in this adventure for me to order a banana split. I dove in with enthusiasm, and it was quite a while before I came up for air. 

I was really glad that Greg went for the Coffee Chip in his sundae.  I love coffee ice cream!  If I had only slightly less self control you would probably only read about 3 flavors of ice cream in this blog.  I enjoy trying new things, but a favorite is a favorite and to me a sweet, creamy coffee ice cream is just about perfection.  Eddie's adds chocolate chips, and Greg added the butterscotch, and that right there is a decadent, satisfying, flavorful treat. 

Order a soda with your ice cream.  Maybe if you are getting an ice cream soda you don't need to, but otherwise go ahead and get one.  It's a wasted opportunity not to.  How often are you going to be somewhere that makes all their own syrups and lets you pick any combination?  I asked for a recommendation this time and wound up with a Lime Rickey (cherry and lime syrup) which was fruity and fun and went really well with my fruity sundae.  Greg went for the chocolate egg cream.  Yes, it is a real egg cream.  No, there is no egg in an egg cream.  Yes, it will satisfy even the most nostalgic of New Yorkers (I know you're reading this, Mom). 
Even the menu over the counter is about as old school as it gets.
Head out to Forest Hills, Queens for a cool treat that will take you right on down memory lane.  Your taste buds will think they've been cast as the star in an old movie, your fingers will be sticky, and your heart will happy.

The Rundown:
Where: Eddie's Sweet Shop
105-29 Metropolitan Ave.
Forest Hills, NY 11375
What they're known for: Old school homemade ice cream, syrups, and toppings
A single cup or cone: $3.50
Most Extreme Menu Item: Banana Royal or a 3 Scoop Sundae, $9.00
Non-ice cream menu options: Sodas, hot beverages, and there's a candy display, but I've never actually seen anyone buy anything from it.

p.s. Want to know more about the Lime Rickey?  Check out this article by Jaclyn Einis on the subject:

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Soft Swerve

It's time for ice cream to meet umami!  Soft Swerve keeps it simple and sweet.  They offer four Asian inspired flavors of soft serve ice cream, Ube Purple Yam, Macapuno Coconut, Matcha Green Tea, and Black Sesame, which can be enjoyed solo or twisted in a cup or cone.  The Swerve Specials menu offers unique and well balanced combinations of ice cream and toppings.   Customers are also welcome to order their own creations.  And boy, do they make it look good.
We walked right in and up to the counter.  The staff was friendly and happy to make alterations to their suggested creations.  They do offer samples (if you are unfamiliar with these flavors and feeling wary, this is a great opportunity to get to know them), but we went straight for our treats.  As soon as we had ordered and collected our dessert a huge line to the door formed.  Clearly word has gotten out about this place.  Sometimes it's all about good timing.   
Photo Credit to my dad, who is tall and could take a picture over the heads of the forming crowd.
What I Got: A modified version of the Broadway Special - Ube and Macapuno Coconut swirled with Fruity Pebbles, and marshmallows in a chocolate cone.

What Greg Got: Brooklyn Bridge - Black Sesame, Skor Toffee, mochi, and caramel drizzle in a cup.

Let me say first that the staff here takes great care in creating their ice cream concoctions.  The ice cream is expertly swirled into a cup or cone so that it looks picture perfect every time.  For my creation, they sprinkled some fruity pebbles into the bottom of my cone before filling it with ice cream so that there was a little extra treat waiting at the end for me.  For Greg's they started by drizzling the caramel into the cup in a pattern, then added the toffee and shook it to have the pieces stick in place.
Ok so it looks pretty, but how does it taste?  Just right.  The ice cream is smooth and creamy and cold enough that it doesn't melt while you enjoy the toppings.  I thoroughly enjoyed the flavor and purple color if the Ube.  If you've never tried it, ube is very similar to taro.  The closest comparison on the American flavor pallet might be red velvet, in the sense that there is a flavor that reminds you a bit of chocolate, but isn't.  Try it.  The coconut flavor got a little lost the sweetness of my toppings.  I did not realize when I placed my order that the marshmallows were Lucky Charms.  I don't typically eat sugary cereals, but this was a fun way to have an ice cream.  There was a crunch from the Fruity Pebbles that was really satisfying.  Everything about my dessert, down to the chocolate cone with its subtle flavor was full of joy.

Greg's treat was on the more sophisticated side.  Black Sesame has a gentle sweet flavor with a slight woodiness that comes out of the seeds when they are roasted.  The toppings just kept lifting that flavor up with the sauce and toffee bringing caramel and chocolate to the party.  Where the toffee gave a little crunch, there was the delightful smoothness of the mochi pieces.  Mochi is a rice paste treat that is a bit like a gummy but softer, and is one of my favorite toppings.

If these flavors inspire you, I highly recommend taking a trip to the Lower East Side.  I will need to make another visit myself to try the Matcha Green Tea.

The Rundown:
Where: Soft Swerve
85B Allen Street
New York, NY 10002
What they're known for: Asian inspired soft serve
A single cup or cone: $3.99
Most Extreme Menu Item: Swerve Specials $5.99
Non-ice cream menu options: None - they keep it simple and do it well

Friday, April 28, 2017

The Sweet Shop NYC

Do you like sweets?  Any sweets?  Chances are this place has them.  The small storefront is packed to the gills with candy and chocolates of all kinds; standards, gummies, weird, wild, nostalgic, it's all there.  I'm finishing off the chocolate covered gummy bears I found among their jars of treats while I write this.  They also carry a selection of beautiful and uniquely flavored doughnuts and, of course, ice cream. 
The Sweet Shop NYC opened on the Upper East Side four years ago.  Two years ago I moved out of that neighborhood.  Why am I just learning about this place now?  My research tells me that the line at Sweet Shop NYC is regularly out the door, but on the rainy spring day when I finally stopped in, I had the place to myself. 
The ice cream at Sweet Shop NYC comes from some of New York's best creameries; OddFellows, il laboratorio del gelato, and Van Leeuwen.  Don't worry, each of these will get their own entry in good time.  It is what they do with these craft flavors once they have them that makes Sweet Shop NYC an amazing stop on any ice cream adventure.  Fortunately for me, owner Matt was on hand to make the perfect recommendation, guiding me to one of his signature creations. 
What I Got: Candy Man's Baby Cakes

You can have the Baby Cakes made with any flavor of ice cream, but I went with the house suggestion.  Trust them.  This concoction was composed of Candy Man's Chocolate Malted Ice Cream, handmade vanilla and chocolate whipped cream, hot fudge, hot caramel, and sea salt all on top of sponge cake.  I had every intention of savoring every mouthful, forming a sophisticated and eloquent opinion.  I took my first bite of Baby Cakes.  It was sweet.  It was salty. It was rich. The combination of chocolate and caramel and malt was everything that makes it a classic.  It was gone.  I practically inhaled it.  I was so carried away, I didn't even know what I was doing.  All of a sudden I looked down, and there was only one bite left.  I made sure to slow down and take a moment to fully appreciate that last morsel. 
Yes, I did start to take a spoonful before I remembered to take a picture.  I put it back.  Clearly, I got swept up with this one.
The Sweet Shop NYC is a special little place tucked away on East 73rd, bursting with sugar and joy.  Anyone with a sweet tooth will find something to make them smile here.  The best part of my visit, even more than the wall to wall confections and the irresistible ice cream, was getting to meet co-owner Matt and talk sweets with him.  His parents built Sweet Shop out of a love of all things sweet, and he shares that passion.  We discussed their hard to find and carefully curated candy collection, he double checked my list of ice cream establishments to make suggestions, and we shared notes on our favorite frozen treats.  Thanks for welcoming me in and making sure I had a sweet time.

The Rundown:
Where: The Sweet Shop NYC
404 East 73rd Street
New York, NY 10021
What they're known for: All things sweet
A single cup or cone: $5.00
Most Extreme Menu Item: S'more Sundae $12.95
Non-ice cream menu options: Candy, chocolates, doughnuts, drinks, and "snowballs" shaved ice (which you can add ice cream to)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Davey's Ice Cream: Williamsburg

This week brought me on a nocturnal ice cream adventure.  The good news is that in New York City many ice creameries keep their doors open late for us sweet-toothed night owls.  Davey's Ice Cream specifically boasts on their website that they are "always open late." 
While the original, and slightly bigger, Davey's can be found in Manhattan's East Village, the Williamsburg location is on my regular path and is the perfect place to stop in for a cool treat. The two have the same heart, with just a few differences: they will sometimes have a different flavor or two, the atmosphere and decor are slightly different, and the Williamsburg shop exclusively offers full service espresso.   I am eagerly waiting for their two new locations to open in Chinatown and Greenpoint, due this spring according to the website.

Davey's makes all their ice cream in house using local and seasonal ingredients, creating both traditional and more adventurous flavors.  The scoop artists are excited to make recommendations and offer samples.  Right now they are raving about their Speculoos Chocolate Chip, which started as a seasonal flavor and has found its place on the permanent menu.  
What I Got: Nutella Chocolate Chunk and Berry Brownie Batter Split (two smaller scoops) in a Fancy Cone
What Greg Got: Rosemary Brown Butter

This was a truly satisfying cone, and a big reason for that was the cone itself.  A Fancy Cone at Davey's is a waffle cone dipped in dark chocolate with sprinkles.  The chocolate was a perfect match for both of the flavors I got.  Berries and chocolate?  Check.  Nutella and chocolate? Of course.  All three?  Perfect.  The sprinkles satisfied my desire to have a topping.  I usually avoid all toppings on cones because of the guaranteed mess they will create, but if they are stuck to the cone there's no mess and only more fun.  The cone itself was fortified by the chocolate so there was no crumbling or cone-splosions as I ate it.
The flavors at Davey's are on point.  One of my favorite summer treats is to put fresh raspberries on chocolate ice cream.  It is simple, refreshing, and incredibly satisfying. The Berry Brownie Batter is a perfect stand in as I anxiously wait for the weather to warm and summer fruits to come into season.  It calls to the summer, and reminds me that it is almost here. 

I tend to find Nutella overpowering.  It can be too sweet and the nuttiness can be abrasive.  Davey's Nutella Chocolate Chunk is perfectly balanced.  It has a satisfying hazelnut flavor that lives in harmony with its chocolate chunks.  The ice cream does not have the piercing sweetness of its namesake's spread.  It is creamy and refreshing and just the right amount of nuttiness for this nut.
Can we talk about rosemary ice cream for a moment?  I've had it here (including sampling it while I selected this adventure's treat) and from other enlightened ice cream craftsmen.  Rosemary ice cream should be everywhere.  We don't bat an eye at chocolate, fruit, or caramel based flavors.  Anything that we think of as sweet is fair game, but when it comes to a flavor like rosemary, many treat seekers become wary.  I mentioned in my last post that mint is my go-to flavor.  We need to invite more herbs to the party.  When you hear rosemary, you think savory.  I get it, savory ice cream isn't for everyone.  Here's the secret: rosemary ice cream isn't savory.  It is sweet and light and refreshing, just like any well crafted mint.  Rosemary doesn't get carried away. It is simple and satisfying.  Ever have one of those moments where you get lost in all the fancy ice cream flavors that have too many combinations and mixed in toppings?  Rosemary is a delicate alternative to all the noise.  Next time you see it listed on a menu, give it a try.
They must have known I was coming, the giant ice cream cone was chained up.
The Rundown:
Where: Davey's Ice Cream
201 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11211
What they're known for: Homemade traditional and creative flavors and their peanut butter pie milkshake
A single cup or cone: $5.15
Most Extreme Menu Item: Supreme Banana Split, $14.25
Non-ice cream menu options: Coffee/hot beverages, a small selection of candy

Congratulations to the young man who came in with his parents to celebrate getting into his first choice middle school.  You are clearly very bright, for you celebrate with an ice cream cone.  Good luck to you!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream

For the first day of my ice cream adventure I wanted to visit a new-to-me New York City ice cream staple.  Morgenstern's is near the top of any "best ice cream in the city" list you can find.  This warm spring day was the perfect opportunity to give it a try, so Greg and I headed to the Lower East Side to check it out.  Turns out, I wasn't the only person who had that idea.
It was more than worth the wait! The interior has a classic ice cream parlor feel complete with scoop artists in paper hats, stools at the counter and windows, globe lighting fixtures, and a black and white tile floor.  When you get to the ice cream menu, that is where they leave classic behind and break the mold with their contemporary flavors and toppings. 
The Magnificent Menu at Morgenstern's
What I got:  Monster Cone 2 Dips (translation: waffle cone with 2 scoops), Coconut Ash and Edible Schoolyard Mint Chip
What Greg got: Cup 1 Dip, Durian Banana topped with Pickled Pineapple and Toasted Coconut

The most famous item on the Morgenstern's menu is their Coconut Ash ice cream... a pitch black creamy concoction.  I had to try it.  The verdict?  It's worth the hype.  As imposing as the color is, the ice cream has a subtle, delicate taste that is gentle and pleasant.  It is unique flavor that finds a great balance.  I worried with the name that it would be smokey or overpoweringly sweet, but it was simply a great tasting ice cream.  It was fun to watch my mouth turn black with each bite in the mirror behind the counter, but it never stained my tongue or teeth.

Mint is my go-to flavor.  I was taking a big risk on the Coconut Ash and I wanted a familiar friend to be there for me in case I had made a mistake.  It was perfect!  The scoop artist mixed in extra chocolate chips as they scooped it onto the cone.  The mint was light and fresh, with a flavor that suggests it is made with real mint leaves.  The chips added just the right texture.  This is everything I want in a mint chip ice cream.

Greg let me take a taste of his Durian Banana, Pickled Pineapple, and Toasted Coconut cup.  He managed to engineer the perfect tropical concoction. All the flavors worked together brilliantly.  Curious to know what pickled pineapple is?  Me too.  But I can tell you it mellows out the acidity of the pineapple while leaving the sweet, and combined with the other flavors transports you to a beach where the sand is white and the water blue.

Every flavor I encountered was well balanced and well enjoyed.  The staff was friendly, the space nostalgic.  The only downside was that we wound up in line behind a group of loud, vulgar, kind of violent, mid-twenties bros.  They took their ice cream to go, so once we were past the line we got to enjoy our treats in peace.

The Rundown:
Where: Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream
2 Rivington Street
New York, NY 10002
What they're known for: Black Coconut Ash ice cream and other exotic flavors and toppings
A single cup or cone: $4.50, with toppings at $.50 each
Most Extreme Menu Item: King Kong Banana Split $20; bananas, 5 scoops, sesame caramel, pickled pineapple, cherry
Non-ice cream menu options: Coffee/hot beverages, avocado toast 

The Adventure Begins

My mission is to seek out and sample the finest frozen fancies, delicious dairy desserts, and iconic inspiring ice cream creations that can be found in New York City.  With each new parlor, scoop shop, counter, stand, or truck I will report on my experience and provide a rundown of the need-to-know details:
  • Where to find it
  • What I got
  • What they're known for
  • How much a single cup or cone costs
  • The most extreme menu item
  • What non-ice cream treats they offer 
Every week will bring a new treat.  I will take readers to frozen factories I've not yet explored and old favorites that always have something new to try.  Special guests will join me along the way.  Get your spoons ready, here come the sprinkles!