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!

Saturday, April 15, 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 

Friday, April 14, 2017

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!