Monday, January 29, 2018

Serendipity 3; Broadway Edition

If you come to New York City, you're probably going to want to see a Broadway show.

And if you see a Broadway show, you're probably going to want some ice cream to go with it.
Photo taken from the internet

What is more iconic, more uniquely New York, than the Great White Way?  People flock from all over the world to the intersection of Broadway and 7th Avenue, and they're not just here to be harassed by bootleg super heroes.  They're here to forget the real world for a while, to laugh and cheer and sometimes cry, to be swept up by the fantastic; in short, to see a Broadway musical.  Right now, one of the crowd favorites is a stage adaptation of the 2003 comedy School of Rock playing at the Winter Garden Theater.  In it, a group of kids, guided by a misguided teacher, find their inner rock stars on the road to the battle of the bands.

Wait a minute... what does all of this have to do with ice cream?

Well, you see, almost as iconic to New York as Broadway, and prominently featured in the 2001 film of the same name, is Serendipity 3: a two story restaurant and store that makes some of the city's most beautiful, decadent, and overwhelming sundaes.  This winter, Serendipity has been inspired by the nutty fun of School of Rock - The Musical to create a new - and only available for a limited time - treat: School of Rock - ROCK-y Road Sundae.

On a cold winter evening, Ava and I headed over to Serendipity 3 for the unveiling of their latest creation.  The guests of honor for the event were some very special members of the School of Rock cast.  Once all were assembled and ready, the sundaes came parading to them, each actor receiving their own.  With excitement that could not be contained, they got ready to dive into the dessert they had inspired.
What goes together better than kids and ice cream?
The cast takes their first bite!

What we got: The School of Rock - ROCK-y Road Sundae - three scoops of Vanilla Ice Cream topped with hot fudge, crushed peanuts, whipped cream, chocolate Pop Rocks, and a milk chocolate guitar served in a chalice with frosting, mini chocolate chips, and crushed peanuts on the rim.

Thank goodness I had someone to share this sundae with because it is HUGE!  I overheard one cast member lamenting being full yet not wanting to waste any ice cream.  Clearly this is not your typical, everyday rocky road sundae.  It is rather a reinterpretation inspired by the whimsy and fun of the show.

Let's start with the whipped cream and Pop Rocks.  You have to; the whipped cream creates a mountain on top of the ice cream which you must excavate through.  The whipped cream is fluffy and wonderful, but the party starts with the Pop Rocks.  I don't think I've ever had chocolate Pop Rocks before.  They are a little less pop-y than their uncoated counterparts, but are a lot of fun.  I love that they are what truly bring the "rock" to this rocky road sundae.  The only thing that would make them better is if the Pop Rocks were closer in the sundae's construction to the ice cream; it would be great to add that pop to the creamy coldness.

The ice cream itself is three of the biggest scoops I have ever seen of Serendipity's delicious, creamy vanilla.  Since the fudge and peanuts are toppings rather than mix ins, you have some control over how much of each flavor you get in a bite.

The one disappointment in this sundae was the chocolate guitar.  It is too cold and hard to comfortably bite, and once you do, there is very little flavor to it.  As a decoration to convey the spirit of the show and sundae, it's perfect.  As a piece of chocolate, it leaves something to be desired.

The coating on the rim was actually one of my favorite parts of this creation.  Usually when people use frosting to stick candy to glass it tends to be too hard or too sweet or just gross.  Not here!  The frosting was soft and tasty and fun to scrape off the side with the chocolate chips and peanut pieces.  It created the perfect flavor combination, which I tried both mixed with the ice cream and just on its own.  If anything (I can't believe I'm saying this) I would want more of it!

Overall, The School of Rock - ROCK-y Road Sundae is a fun, flavorful treat.  It is simple in its silliness.  It is also huge, and at some point, it was just too much.  There is only so much vanilla ice cream one can eat.  If you (and some friends) want to try it for yourself, you'll need to hurry.  This limited time sundae will only be around for about a month.

The Rundown:
Where: Serendipity 3
225 East 60th Street
New York, NY 10022
What they're known for: Frozen Hot Chocolate, huge delicious sundaes
A single cup or cone: Do they even have just a single scoop of ice cream?  I'll have to go back and investigate...
Most Extreme Menu Item: Golden Opulence Sundae (it's in the Guinness Book of World Records and you have to call ahead to order it two days in advance), $1,000
Non-ice cream menu options: Full food menu 
Serendipity 3, I'll be back on another adventure to explore some of your other amazing creations.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Disney World; The Happiest Ice Cream on Earth

It happened!  We traveled to The Happiest Place on Earth at the Most Wonderful Time of the Year and experienced all the magic that is Disney World at Christmas time.  Our vacation had all the rides, fireworks, and Disney friends one would expect.  The cherry on this perfect sundae of a trip was the ice cream creations that were more magical than I ever could have dreamed.

Magic Kingdom
Our first frozen treats were found in the Magic Kingdom at the Sunshine Tree Terrace, and just in time!  It was the perfect way to cool down on an 80° day in December.  
What I got: Citrus Swirl Orange Float - Citrus Orange and Vanilla Soft Server Ice Cream with orange soda
What Greg got: Root Beer Float  - Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream with root beer

My treat was super refreshing and the perfect cool down for a New Yorker acclimating to winter in Florida.  The Citrus Orange part was essentially frozen orange juice, and the whole thing gave the impression of a really tasty Creamsicle that you can both drink and eat with a spoon.  Greg's float needed more root beer; at some point it was just a cup full of vanilla ice cream.

We also visited the adorably decored Plaza Ice Cream Parlor perfectly located on the corner of Main Street, U.S.A. within full view of Cinderella's Castle. The ice cream here (and I'm pretty sure all the hard pack ice cream in the World) is Edy's Ice Cream.  Plaza is most known for their sundaes, specifically The "Plaza" Ice Cream Sundae and Mickey's Kitchen Sink Sundae along with seasonal creations.  I decided to go for something even more iconic.
What I got: Mickey Mouse Kid's Cone - Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream on a cone with chocolate Mickey Mouse ears
What Greg got: Root Beer Float with Chocolate Ice Cream

Please note: This was actually a different day in the park.  Greg did not get two root beer floats in the same day.

The simpleness of these treats was ideal.  You don't always need bells and whistles and sprinkles and sauces to have a perfect ice cream.  These are cool, classic, magical flavors well enjoyed while watching tourists feed french fries to ducks and Elsa sing out on the steps of the nearby castle.

Also enjoyed at the Magic Kingdom, and available all over Disney World, was a famed Mickey's Ice Cream Bar.
Moment of truth: This ice cream bar totally lived up to the hype.  I don't know what kind of magic the chocolate shell is made out of, but it works!  This is no ordinary chocolate.  I can't even tell you what's different about it.  Something about this ice cream wrapped in this chocolate shaped like Mickey's head is, well, practically perfect in every way.

Hollywood Studios
In Hollywood Studios I had a mission:  I was going to Hollywood Scoops to try their famous giant chocolate chip cookie ice cream sandwiches.  The first challenge?  Finding it.  We crossed the park back and forth, misread the guidebook, got confused by the website, steered wrong by Google maps, and redirected by confused cast members (everyone who works at Disney World is a cast member) who had no idea what I was talking about.  Finally, we found it!  Pro tip: just walk to Tower of Terror; it's on the left hand side directly before you get to the ride.  I was ready.  I knew exactly what I was going to order.  Then I saw the specials.  Then all my planning went right out the window!
What I got: "Holiday Offerings" Olaf Sundae - Butter Pecan Ice Cream (the default is vanilla but they were happy to accommodate) with chocolate chip buttons, striped chocolate curl arms, a white chocolate Olaf, all on top of a jelly filled donut.

Well, in my defense, they only have the holiday specials around the holidays, and Frozen is absolutely everywhere in the parks, and I liked the nod to the Jewish traditions with the jelly donut.  Also, it was really good!  I think I had intentions of sharing more of this with Greg.  It was gone rather quickly.  The butter pecan was a great flavor compliment to the donut, which was soft and delicious and had the perfect amount of jelly filling.

This stop also provided me with one of the best, most terrifying, confusing photographs I have ever taken.  I have debated sharing this, but the public deserves the awkwardness.  I didn't even notice what was happening until I was checking photos later in the day.
Seriously, what's happening?  What did that little girl do to that reindeer and why does it look so gleefully angry about it?
Epcot provides many ice cream possibilities, as several of the pavilions in the World Showcase have frozen treats from their countries.  I knew that even I could not sample them all, so we went for the most celebrated ice cream destination, L'Artisan des Glaces in France.  They tout house-made ice cream in some really wonderful flavors.
I like the touch of the "newspaper" wrapper on the Croque Glacé
What I got: Croque Glacé - Cinnamon with Caramelized Pecan Ice Cream and chocolate sauce in a homemade brioche, pressed warm
What Greg got: Coupe du Dimanche - a scoop each of Cinnamon, Caramelized Apple & Crumble Crunch and Gingerbread Ice Cream, caramel sauce, and whipped cream in a waffle bowl
What Stewart and Kiddo got: Mixed Berries Sorbet on a waffle cone

Greg won this round; the gingerbread ice cream was by far the best flavor any of us got.  My treat was tasty, though very messy.  At one point I had to eat some of the ice cream with a spoon to be able to pick up the brioche for a bite.  The sorbet was refreshing and just sweet enough and turned Kiddo bright red with his enthusiasm in eating it.

Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure
We did sneak away from the Happiest Place on Earth for a different kind of magic.  In Diagon Alley at Universal Studios, where witches and wizards (and yes, even some muggles) shop, cast spells, meet Olivander, watch stage shows, and make trouble at Gringot's, is Florean Fortescue's Ice-Cream Parlor.
The weather was particularly British that day.
What I got: Earl Grey & Lavender and Sticky Toffee Pudding Ice Cream in a waffle cone
What Greg got: Hot Caramel Sundae with Sticky Toffee Pudding Ice Cream, whipped cream, and a cherry
Note: I did not try the Butter Beer Ice Cream.  To be honest, I had already had both hot and cold Butter Beer, and was frankly Butter Beered out.  I hear it's very tasty though.

The Earl Grey & lavender ice cream was surprisingly mild.  I usually don't like lavender in ice cream, as the smell can overpower all flavors, but it was subtle and pleasant here. The ice cream itself was a bit soft and even on this chilly-for-Florida day, I had to eat it very quickly to prevent a melting disaster.  The sticky toffee pudding was just perfect.  Greg had the absolute best combination with the caramel, as toffee pudding and caramel are just meant to be together.
Ice Cream and Dragon Selfie!
Greg told me he wanted a break from sugar and that he needed real food while at Universal.  So where do we wind up for lunch?  The Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, of course.  While we did have "real food" I could not resist the siren's call to the milkshake and sundae portion of their menu.  Everything here is beautiful.  Everything here is tasty.  I wish I had taken a picture of the sundae the people next to us ordered.  The waitress gave the husband both words of encouragement and some gentle teasing so he would finish it.

What I got: Chocolate x5 Shake - Chocolate Ice Cream, chocolate chunks, strawberries, chocolate sauce, fresh whipped cream, and chocolate spirals

It was delicious.  I was drawn to this shake by the strawberries as much as the chocolate.  I guess part of me decided it was time for some fruit.  It was also very rich and too much for me to handle.  The good news is the shakes are served in plastic mason jars that you are allowed to take with you, so I had some extra time to work on it.
The paper straw, while environmentally friendly, was very difficult to drink a thick shake through.
Typhoon Lagoon
Our most epic ice cream moments did not take place in a theme park at all!  Instead, the biggest, baddest, most wonderful ice cream creations were to be found in other parts of Disney World.  At Happy Landings Ice Cream in Typhoon Lagoon on a slightly-chilly-but-not-enough-to-keep-us-out-of-the-water day the beach treat of my dreams floated into my life.

What we got: Sand Pail - Chocolate and Vanilla Swirl Soft Serve Ice Cream with hot fudge and caramel sauce, waffle cone and Oreo cookie pieces, whipped cream, Mickey sprinkles, and a cherry on top, served in a sand pail.  I mean, just look at it!
I asked for extra shovels so we could all eat with one.
The Sand Pail is a masterpiece.  Ice cream is carefully swirled to coat the bottom and outside of the pail, then the sauces and toppings are put in the middle.  That means they are all mixed in and you can have sauce and cookie and cone with every bite.  More ice cream is then added to close up the top, then whipped cream, sprinkles, and cherry.  This was the only place in the park I got Mickey sprinkles.  I had been waiting for this moment.  The Sand Pail was a perfect, satisfying sundae, and the perfect amount for four people to split, especially when we had this guy helping us.
He even had enough will power to leave me the cherry!
Beach Club Resort 
The most epic treat, the ice cream creation that I could not leave Disney World without meeting face-to-face if I wished to keep my ice cream warrior title, can be found in Disney's Beach Club Resort at a very special place called Beaches & Cream Soda Shop.  This American fare and ice cream eatery was dressed up for the holidays with wreaths bedecked in ice cream ornaments.  On the menu, past the burgers and fries and mixed in inconspicuously with the other sundaes, I found that for which I was questing; the Kitchen Sink.

Readers of this blog know that I am not a stranger to a classic kitchen sink sundae.  I enjoyed one with friends and loved ones for a very special Birthday Edition of Scoops, Sundaes, Sprinkles, and Shakes right here in NYC.  But this, the Beaches & Cream Soda Shop Kitchen Sink, comes with some extra Disney magic mixed in.  I mean, they serve it in a sink and set off a siren, for crying out loud!
The menu says it serves four.  The menu lies.  Six of us worked VERY hard at this one.
What we got: Kitchen Sink

The menu describes it as "Scoops of Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Cookies and Cream, and Mint Chocolate Chips smothered in every topping we have."  Ok.  That doesn't begin to cover it.  The best I can tell, it is eight of the largest scoops of ice cream I have ever seen, lots of sauces, a whole fruit salad, an entire can of whipped cream, all the toppings you could dream of including multiple pieces of cake and brownie and whole Oreos, sprinkles (because it's not a proper sundae without sprinkles), and enough cherries to make George Washington smile.  There was hot fudge, caramel, marshmallow, and chocolate sauce.  Something in there was peanut buttery, though I couldn't tell you if it was sauce or chips or just straight up peanut butter (and I watched them make it. Closely).  There were banana slices and strawberries and pineapple chunks, orange jelly candies and snickers pieces and things we will never identify.
This sundae was wider than me.  It's also deeper than it looks; all the ice cream is below the lip of the bowl.  Above?  That's all toppings.
Partway through our excavation... there are still at least four bowls of ice cream left in there.
How was it?  The Kitchen Sink was delicious, it was fun, it was surprising, it was sticky, and by the time we got to the bottom, it was soup. Somehow, I never had a bite where the flavors didn't work together.  This was the most harmonious mess of a sundae I have ever encountered.  The fruit added pops of refreshment, the cake and candy provided a wide variety of texture, and the ice cream was the star that supported its cast and brought them together into a cohesive story.  It took teamwork and determination to make it through all the cake and candy and whipped cream and *oh yeah* ice cream, but it was a challenge we were happy to take on.  In the end, we persevered.

In Conclusion
I hate to admit it, but I did not actually eat all of the ice cream in Disney World.  There are a few park favorites that I did not sample.   I guess that means I'd better go back one day.  Those include:
  • As mentioned before, the giant Ice Cream Sandwich on Fresh Baked Cookie at Hollywood Scoops (Hollywood Studios)
  • Mickey's Ice Cream Bar's close cousin Mickey's Cookie Sandwich, available throughout the World
  • The famed, cult-status treat known as Dole Whip; a pineapple and vanilla treat which can be found at Aloha Isle in Magic Kingdom, Tamu Tamu Refreshments in Animal Kingdom, and at Pineapple Lanai at the Polynesian Village Resort
  • Another shot at the World Showcase in Epcot for: gelato from Gelati, Caramel Ginger or Lychee ice cream at Lotus Blossom Café, and many more delicious looking treats from L'Artisan des Glaces.  I'm sure there are more international frozen delights I missed as well. 
  • All of the other Sundaes they serve at Beaches & Cream.  All of them.
If you are a New Yorker missing the familiar ice cream of home, you can visit the Disney outposts of some of our local favorites.  Sprinkles has a location at Disney Springs (previously known as Downtown Disney) and Ample Hills Creamery (I reviewed the original Brooklyn location here) can be found at Disney's BoardWalk.

If you are in Disney World and would like to get some soft serve from the most imaginative locations ever, might I suggest the Anandapur Ice Cream Truck in the Animal Kingdom, which is covered in gorgeous murals, or Dinosaur Gertie's Ice Cream of Extinction in Hollywood Studios.

The most beautiful ice cream "truck" I've ever seen
Photo from the Disney website; somehow I didn't get a picture of this one.
For anyone concerned that I didn't get ice cream at Animal Kingdom, I did get a frozen chai (not ice cream, but cold and sweet), which was quite tasty.  I knew we were going to Beaches & Cream that evening and needed to save room.

I cannot think of a better way to celebrate the holidays than spending time with friends and loved ones eating ice cream in the Happiest Place on Earth.  Visiting Disney World was a truly magical, festive, wonderful adventure.  We were wowed by fireworks, thrilled by shows and rides, starstruck by Disney's biggest celebrities, and got to share it all with dear friends.  And, well, the ice cream, that's just the cherry on the top!

Happy Holidays from Scoops, Sundaes, Sprinkles, and Shakes!

Friday, December 29, 2017

Stuffed Ice Cream; Holiday Edition

Adorable Ice Cream Alert! 
Ok, I promise I would have told you about this sooner, but it just hit my ice cream radar and I raced over right away.  Stuffed Ice Cream is brand new to NYC, having opened this past summer.  Their big thing is donut ice cream sandwiches (If that sounds tasty, check out my piece on Holey Cream, where they have been scooping up donut sandwiches for the past 8 years), but that is not what we are here to discuss today!  What got me bundled up and headed to the East Village in this arctic weather are their Christmas Collection Cones.  There are three festive two-scooped creations to choose from: Santa, Reindeer, and Snowman. You get to choose your scoop flavors and your cone, and the scoop artists make the cutest frozen treats you've ever seen.
There are many wonderful flavors to choose from and samples to be tried if you are having trouble making your selection.
What I got: Christmas Collection Cone "Santa" - Andes Peppermint and Red Velvet Cookie Dough Crumble Ice Cream on a red velvet Konery Cone with a cone and frosting hat, Oreo eyes, a marshmallow beard, Pocky arms (the description said "candy cane", but I'm not mad), and what I think was a white chocolate chip button.

What Greg got: Signature Cruff  "Cereal Killer" - Fruity Pebbles and Cinnamon Toast Crunch Ice Cream in a glazed donut with Captain Crunch and caramel sauce.

Clearly I was feeling festive with both the color and flavors of my ice cream choices.  Look how pretty it is!  I tried the Red Velvet Cookie Dough Crumble (yes, that's one flavor) before ordering it and liked both the texture and the way the flavor evoked cake.  The Andes Peppermint I went for blindly because I love Andes, I love mint ice cream, and, well, it's green and this is a Christmas cone after all.  What struck me about both ice creams as I ate my festive treat was they were rather mild in flavor.  I expected the Andes to be a stronger mint, like the candy it is named for, and to have more of a chocolate presence.  The Red Velvet was pretty true to its cake counterpart in that the flavor was very minimal.  It was definitely red, but after a few bites any defining characteristics faded.  The toppings were what made this creation special.  The cone and frosting hat started things off with a crunch, and the Oreo eyes gave me a little pop of chocolate.  The marshmallow beard was a little stiff (I don't want to say stale... maybe just cold to hold it together?) and that added a whole new texture to the experience.  I loved it!
Greg's Cruff in all its glory
I did get a bite of Greg's Cruff (what Stuffed calls their donut ice cream sandwiches; according to their website it is a mix of the words "cream" for ice cream and "stuffed"), but I will have to come back and order my own to truly experience the Cruff.  My first impressions are that they are bigger than my mouth, and that this one was made particularly sticky by the caramel on the outside. 

I asked the Very Friendly Scoop Artists how long the Christmas Collection would be available:
VFSA #1: Probably just until New Years.
VFSA #2 (almost simultaneously): Forever!
VFSA #1: You think we are going to be making these still in July?
VFSA #2: ... Maybe
VFSA #1: Probably only through this weekend.

Clearly, I'm going to have to give Stuffed another go.  Possibly this weekend to try another member of the Christmas Collection before they are potentially gone.  And then again another time to get a Cruff and to try some of the other wide variety of flavors Stuffed Ice Cream has to offer. 
The Rundown:
Where: Stuffed Ice Cream
139 1st Avenue
New York, NY 10003
What they're known for: Cruffs (donut ice cream sandwiches)
A single cup or cone: $4.25
Most Extreme Menu Item: Ice Cream Bouquet (7 scoops of ice cream on a cone) $18 
Note: The website says they have one with 21 scoops, but no price is given.
Non-ice cream menu options: Boxed water

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Is it Ice Cream? A Visit to Snowdays

As a self proclaimed ice cream connoisseur, I'm having a bit of a crisis.  You see, I recently took a trip to Snowdays, where they serve up what is referred to as "Shaved Cream" and all I can think is "Does this count as ice cream?" Because really, what is ice cream?  At the most basic, simple level, all you need to have ice cream is sweetened, cooled cream.  From that jumping off point, there are countless ways ice cream is made and enjoyed in almost every culture.  For a moment I thought, "It needs to be churned in some way to be considered ice cream," and then I remembered how much I love Thai style rolled ice cream, which is possibly one of the creamiest, smoothest ways to make ice cream, but most definitely is not churned.  So I bring it to you, ice cream lovers: Should shaved cream be considered a style of ice cream?
Whatever it is, it sure is cute!
Snowdays' website, and their impressive lineup of press releases, claim that this is, in fact, an entirely new and different dessert.  Shaved cream is inspired by Taiwanese and Korean style shaved ice.  Rather than shaving down ice and adding flavoring to it, Snowdays mixes together milk, cream, sugar, and flavor (sounds a lot like an ice cream base, no?), and freezes it, WITHOUT churning it, into big blocks.  When you place your order, they attach a block to the shaving machine, which turns out ribbons of the snowy, creamy concoction.  This is piled high into a cup and finished with drizzled sauces and hard toppings.  Snowdays claims that they have invented this new spin on an old treat, and are happy to have customers think of shaved cream as being in its own unique category of frozen desserts.
What I got: Regular size Green Tea Shaved Cream with chocolate syrup drizzle, mochi, and waffle cones (which were really pizzelle cookies).

What Greg got: Regular size Sweetmilk Shaved Cream with salted caramel drizzle and mochi.

I highly recommend you come hungry; the regular size portion (the smallest you can get) is huge.  The shaved cream is piled high above the rim of the cup, and toppings are artfully styled around the edge in a way that begs to be photographed.  But is it ice cream?  I dove in.

The first thing I noticed is that the ice crystals in shaved cream are HUGE compared to any ice cream I've ever had.  The flavor of ice cream is present; shaved cream has the same sweetness and creaminess, but the texture is entirely different.  With that said, it is also more velvety than a snow cone would be.  What I didn't notice until I had been eating for a while was that the bigger ice crystals also meant I got much colder and had to eat much more slowly than I do when presented with typical ice cream.  I also made much more of a mess than I usually do, as the shaved cream seemed eager to jump out of my cup and slide off my spoon as I tried to eat it.  I'm going to go ahead and blame the ice crystals for that as well.

The flavors were all on point.  Apart from the texture, everything else was exactly what you would expect from a bowl of ice cream.  Both the green tea and the sweetmilk were well balanced and sweet but not too sweet.  The shaved cream got a little melty where the drizzle was added, but that was a nice thing.  All the toppings you would expect to find at an Asian inspired ice cream parlor are available, and you can build and customize your shaved cream adornments to your heart's content.
Bonus points for spoons that change color when they are cold.  That's just fun.
Tastiness and texture aside, I still cannot decide.  IS THIS ICE CREAM??? Leave me a comment.  Or give it a try yourself, and let me know what you think.

The Rundown:
Where: Snowdays
241 East 10th Street
New York, NY 10003
(There are other locations as well)
What they're known for: Shaved Cream, an invention of their own
A single cup: $6.00
Most Extreme Menu Item: Yeti Combo (their largest size) $12.00
Lactose Free/Vegan Option: The Coconut flavor is vegan, but was also sold out. 
Non-ice cream menu options: Cold and hot beverages

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Before They're Gone; an End of Summer Adventure

I know that it's hard to believe, but not all of New York City's ice cream is available year round.  As we cling to the last warm days of summer, some creameries are getting ready to close up shop.  Join me on a special ice cream mission to catch these frozen delights before they are gone.

Oddfellows Carnival
One of my all time favorite ice cream creators has opened a seasonal pop up shop in SoHo where they are making carnival themed frozen treats which are literally wrapped in fun.  Oddfellows Carnival is only swirling up soft serve; they've got the machines loaded with Caramel Popcorn, Chocolate, Tangerine, and Vanilla.  While you can get any flavor topped as you wish, they are featuring three ice cream carnival creations that are silly and sophisticated and sweet all at once.  

What I got: The Concession Stand - Chocolate and Caramel Popcorn ice cream swirled (this is intended to be made with just the Caramel Popcorn, but they were happy to give me a twist) topped with salted caramel popcorn and chocolate pearls.

What Brianna got: The Pink Dip - Chocolate ice cream dipped in a pink chocolate shell topped with freeze dried raspberries, gold dust, and Pop Rocks.  

What we have to go back for: The Cotton Candy Creamsicle - Vanilla and Tangerine ice cream wrapped in cotton candy (it was a rainy day, and moisture and cotton candy don't mix).

This store finally answers the question, "How much fun can you put on an ice cream cone?"  Turns out the answer is, "All the fun!"  I'm glad that I got my ice cream swirled for two reasons; I really love chocolate, and this might have been a little too salty for me otherwise.  You have to pay close attention while eating The Concession Stand, the popcorn and chocolate pearls will go jumping off of your cone if you aren't careful.  The caramel popcorn was tasty but didn't have the crunch I was expecting.  Joyfully the chocolate pearls stepped in to add a nice texture to the whole creation.

I might have enjoyed Brianna's ice cream more than she did.  The flavors all worked perfectly together; on that we agreed.  The chocolate and raspberries and shell made a sweet, tart, crunchy, smooth concoction of ice cream goodness.  Where our opinions divided was over the Pop Rocks.  I was giddy feeling the crackling on my teeth breaking up the silky sensation of soft serve.  Brianna didn't seem to appreciate the shocking invasion of her otherwise relaxing and pleasant ice cream experience.  To each their own. 
Bonus; they have a photo booth for all your ice cream photo needs.  Take that selfies!
The Rundown:
Where: Oddfellows Carnival 
62 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
What they're known for: Carnival themed soft serve
A single cup or cone: $6.00
Most Extreme Menu Item: Any of the three creations for $7.50
Non-ice cream menu options: Candied peanuts, salted caramel popcorn, cotton candy

Magnum NYC
Yes, it's a national brand.  Yes, it's mainstream ice cream.  It's also anything but ordinary.  This summer Magnum NYC popped up in the Meatpacking District bedecked in bling and branding.  There are giant bedazzled ice cream bar sculptures "inspired by the surrounding area" (I don't get it), photo ops for the most Insta-inspired food photographers, and the store's hashtag is absolutely everywhere.  Once you get past all the shine and step up to the counter, you leave the mainstream and enter into a unique culinary experience.  
The whole beautiful process and photo-ready results
How it works
Step 1: Pick your ice cream.  Your choices are chocolate or vanilla.  Yes, it's just a normal Magnum ice cream bar... so far.
Step 2:  Pick your toppings.  This is where it gets interesting, and gourmet, and delicious.  Choices include offerings such as organic dark chocolate covered chia seeds, sorbet chocolate curls, pink Himalayan sea salt, and culinary rose petals.  You pick up to three toppings, and they all get spooned into a shaker to be properly mixed.  
Step 3: Choose your dip and drizzle.  Your options are milk chocolate, dark chocolate, and white chocolate.  You may choose different flavors for the shell and the drizzle on top.
Step 4:  Watch the magic.  The ice cream bar gets dipped into the chocolate of your choosing.  Before it has a chance to harden, your toppings are quickly and expertly sprinkled onto both sides of the bar.  Then everything is covered with a drizzle and finished with an "M" medallion.  

What I got: Chocolate ice cream, a dark chocolate shell topped with amoretti cookie crumbles, dried raspberries, and orange chocolate crispy pearls, with a white chocolate drizzle.

What Eric got: Chocolate ice cream with a white chocolate shell, Greek yogurt buttons, chocolate cookie crumble, chocolate covered sunflower seeds (they are blue), and a milk chocolate drizzle on top.
Our tasty creations
You really feel like you are eating something special as you bite into these custom ice cream masterpieces.  Each flavor and texture makes its way into every bite.  My toppings gave me crunch, saltiness, and a little tart from the raspberries to go with the rest of the sweet.  They also gave me a delicious mess; I was glad that the ice cream was served in the little box it was created on.  

The Rundown:
Where: Magnum NYC
875 Washington Street
New York, NY 10014
What they're known for: Custom crafted ice cream bars
A custom bar: $8.00
Non-ice cream menu options: They may have cold drinks.  I don't know.  I was distracted by all the shiny objects.
NOTE: I might have the close date wrong.  The website says through September.  I found an article that says through October.  The date listed is what one of the workers told me.

My final stop for this catch-it-while-you-can ice cream tour brought me to Gotham Market at The Ashland in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, where they have a rotating pop-up space for Brooklyn based business owners to get their delicious wares to the public.  Here I was introduced to the rich, creamy, delicate, and yet intense flavors of Malai Ice Cream.  They offer a soft serve and four hard packed ice creams, all in flavors inspired by an Indian spice palate.  I started by sampling the Coconut-Cardamom soft serve which was rich and creamy and delicious, but with the cardamom I personally could not eat more than a little.  Then I shifted my attention to the hard ice cream and was blissfully whisked away by every flavor.
What I got: Split cone (two flavors) with Rose with Cinnamon Roasted Almonds and Turkish Coffee Ice Cream on a Coconut Cone.

What amazing flavors!  I usually do not like floral ice creams; I find the aroma overpowers the flavor and I can't taste anything else.  The Rose with Cinnamon Roasted Almonds ice cream was delicate and extremely well balanced.  The almond mellowed the rose so that it didn't take over my senses.  The floral and the nuttiness and the spice from the cinnamon all played together beautifully.  The Turkish Coffee ice cream was everything you would want it to be.  It had a well balanced, never bitter coffee flavor, nice and sweet, and similar to the rose, not one flavor overpowered another.  By that point I had also gotten well into enjoying the Coconut Cone which delicately complemented both ice cream flavors.  I could have eaten a few of these cones just as a treat on their own.  
Cone flavors from right to left: blue corn, five spice, cinnamon, and coconut
While I was blissfully enjoying my cone I saw another customer order the Turmeric Ice Cream.  I didn't get to try it, but I have never seen a more beautiful yellow ice cream in all my adventures. 

The Rundown:
Where: Malai
Gotham Market at The Ashland
590 Fulton Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
What they're known for: Indian inspired ice cream flavors
A single cup: $5.00 A single cone: $7.00
Most Extreme Menu Item: Hand Packed Pint $11.00
Non-ice cream menu options: While there is only ice cream at Malai, Gotham Market is full of a wide variety of food.  Go hungry.  And with friends. 

Enjoy these last warm days of summer and some of these delicious frozen treats while you still can!

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Jahn's Family Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor; Birthday Edition!

Jahn's Family Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor is a special place.  I mentioned Jahn's to my mother, who instantly started reminiscing about her childhood in The Bronx.  Jahn's opened 120 years ago and used to be a local franchise with locations all over New York City.  Now the only remaining one is in Jackson Heights, Queens.  They serve typical diner fare, and many of the locals just stop in for a meal without any dessert at all.  It is when you turn to the back of the menu that you discover the magic and nostalgia that gives Jahn's its legacy.  It is also where you will find the creation that inspired the most epic ice cream adventure yet.  You see, Jahn's sells a sundae known as The Kitchen Sink; a monumental ice cream creation that they will not serve to fewer than 8 people.  Of course, this meant it was time to rally the troupes for

Ice Cream Adventure; Birthday Edition

And so it was that on a fine June day my loved ones and friends made a pilgrimage to Jackson Heights, to the last standing Jahn's where, to this day, they still make all their own ice cream and toppings.  Once we were assembled and had thoroughly colonized the back of the restaurant, we placed the order: "The Kitchen Sink, please."
If you look to the right of the spoon handle, you can see the flame on what we can only guess was a graham cracker they lit on fire and stuck into the sundae.
So what is in a kitchen sink under all that homemade whipped cream?  It starts with two scoops of every flavor of ice cream Jahn's offers; Vanilla, Chocolate, Strawberry, Coffee, Butter Pecan, Cherry Vanilla, Pistachio Almond, Cookies & Cream, Vanilla Fudge, Chocolate Chip, Mint Chip, and Sherbet.  On top of that they add fudge and caramel sauces, banana, pineapple and nuts, mountains of fresh whipped cream, and enough sprinkles and cherries to fill your heart's desire.  There might have been more in there; it was hard to keep track of everything.  No two servings and no two bites were the same.  Once a layer of flavor was uncovered a new one emerged below.  It would take a team of dessert archeologists to pick apart the delicious madness that is The Kitchen Sink, and they would need to work fast!  As it was, our last few scoops were a wonderful ice cream soup. 
I begin the excavation, I mean serving, of the ice cream.
Everyone loved it!  We enjoyed digging through, looking for new flavors, and guessing what we had each gotten in our bowls.  I went for some green ice cream that I was assuming was the Mint Chip and wound up with Pistachio Almond instead.  I'm not usually a fan of pistachio ice cream, but this one, with almond mixed in (which I love), was absolutely luxurious.  All the ice cream at Jahn's has wonderful flavors and a creamy texture that lets you know it's the real deal.  We kept digging, eating, and enjoying all the way to the bottom of the bowl. 
Mission thoroughly accomplished!
Even with its behemoth size, a Kitchen Sink alone was not nearly enough to sate the ice cream appetites of these adventurers!  Sundaes and sodas were enjoyed all around.
Reita and Mike "split" a Banana Royal.
Jenny and her Root Beer Float
Kirin went for the Orange Sherbet Soda, which she discovered was "perfect for a hot summer day."

Beautiful sundaes for all!  I lost track of who had what after a while.
I also discovered that people tend to make this face when photographed with ice cream.  Sky has no clue what danger her sundae is in.
If you think this kid looks excited about his ice cream, you should have seen the dance he did when the fruit salad he ordered showed up!
Ron might have had to share his ice cream.
All in all it was a beautiful, tasty celebration.  I was surrounded by the amazing people who make my life sweet and rich every day, even when there is no dessert to be had.  The staff at Jahn's were incredible hosts and brought dish after dish of delicious ice cream, leaving us all refreshed and satisfied.  What a perfect way to start my next trip around the sun.

The Rundown:
Where: Jahn's Family Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor
8104 37th Avenue #1
Flushing, NY 11372
What they're known for: Homemade nostalgic ice cream
A single cup or cone: $3.40
Most Extreme Menu Item: The Kitchen Sink $55.95
Non-ice cream menu options: Full diner menu