Saturday, May 27, 2017

Holey Cream

This is no ordinary ice cream adventure. This ice cream adventure takes us to a magical place where ice cream and donuts live together in harmony.  A place where the choices are dazzling, the combinations are delightful, and the resulting flavors are delicious.  A place where sugary dreams are brought to life with care.  A place in Hell's Kitchen called Holey Cream.
I also had no ordinary special guest with me on this adventure (or was I a special guest on his?).  For this ice cream and donut extravaganza I was joined by my friend Jean-Tae who was one of my inspirations for starting Scoops, Sundaes, Sprinkles, and Shakes in the first place.  You see, in 2015 Jean-Tae took on a "100 Days of Ice Cream Challenge" in which he ate a different flavor of ice cream every day for 100 days straight.  Photo evidence went up on Facebook every day with the number, flavor, and those of us who joined him along the way.  This spring Jean-Tae announced that he was taking up another challenge.  This time, donuts.  When I heard about Holey Cream, I knew a crossover was called for.  So it was that on Day 46 of the Donut Challenge we met up at this ice cream and donut mecca. 
I think I had this look on my face the whole time I was at Holey Cream.
We walk up to the counter and are greeted by the friendly staff.  I inform them that I want the ice cream-donut-sandwich-thing, but I don't know what that means.  Well... They start with a plain donut, and you pick your ice cream flavor, glaze flavor, and topping.  I can't decide what flavor of ice cream to get; there are over 30 to choose from.  I am told I can pick two.  Then I choose from about half a dozen glaze flavors.  Then I'm taken over to the topping selection where there are more than 20 options.  THEN I'm asked to pick a drizzle for the top.  The smile on my face and wonder in my eyes must have gotten bigger with every step.  The employees noted my joy and found it to be contagious.
There were too many ice cream options to capture in one image, but behold the beautiful toppings!
What I got: Donut Ice Cream Sandwich - a plain donut with two scoops of Holey Moley Ice Cream, one scoop of Coffee Mud Pie Ice Cream, Nutella glaze, Heath crumble, and marshmallow drizzle.

What Jean-Tae got: Donut Ice Cream Sandwich - a plain donut with two scoops of Holey Moley Ice Cream, one scoop of Brownie a la Mode Ice Cream, Nutella glaze, Oreo pieces, and marshmallow drizzle.

What Greg got: one scoop of Outrageous Caramel Pretzel Ice Cream in a cup.

Please do not mistake the similarity of our sandwiches for a lack of options.  There are literally thousands of combinations you could make.  We just have similar tastes when confronted with such a smorgasbord.
Behold the beauty!
We feasted with gusto!  The Holey Moley Ice Cream is a cookie dough base with M&Ms and fudge mixed in. The candy in it added even more fun to a treat that I could not stop smiling about.  I have mentioned before that I am a fan of coffee ice creams, and the Coffee Mud Pie was perfect!  The coffee flavor mixed with chocolate was just what I wanted and the gooeyness of the brownie pieces brought a fun texture to the party.  All three toppings, the Nutella, Heath, and marshmallow sauce, came together to feel like I'd created sophisticated s'mores on top of a sundae.  The donut itself was the perfect platform for all of the flavors, being soft and fluffy and soaking up ice cream as it had a little time (but not much, I ate this fast) to melt.  It wasn't too heavy, as I find donuts can sometimes be.  The cake of the donut was tasty but not overpowering, creating a sandwich where everything could be enjoyed in harmony. 
This is a simplified version of the process.  It does not mention that you get THREE scoops of ice cream, which you can split between two flavors, and that after you add toppings, the whole thing is crowned with a drizzle.
I highly encourage you to head over to Holey Cream and compose your own heavenly donut ice cream creation.  There is so much to choose from that everyone will be able to make their own version of the perfect sandwich.  Holey Cream is right outside the Theatre District and open late, so you can stop in for a treat after a show.

The Rundown:
Where: Holey Cream
796 9th Avenue
New York, NY 10019
https://www.instagram.com/holeycreamnyc/
What they're known for: Donut Ice Cream Sandwich
A single cup or cone: $5.50
Most Extreme Menu Item: 12 Donuts $24.50, but most extreme ice cream is their selection of sundaes, which include 4 scoops of ice cream each at $9.00
Non-ice cream menu options: Donuts, cupcakes, brownies, cookies, smoothies, hot and cold beverages

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
http://www.tipsyscoop.com/
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
https://www.facebook.com/EddiesSweetShop/
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: http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/04/lime-rickey-soda-fountain-history.html

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
http://www.softswervenyc.com/
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