Sunday, June 4, 2017

Ample Hills Creamery

What is it then between us?
What is the count of the scores or hundreds of years between us?

Whatever it is, it avails not—distance avails not, and place avails not,
I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine,
 - Walt Whitman "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry"            

Ice cream with a view... from the rooftop of Ample Hills Creamery
Founders Brian and Jackie took inspiration for the name of their business from Walt Whitman's poem which explores the connection New Yorkers share with one another.  And what can unite the great diversity of people, the pulse of New York, across time and space better than ice cream?  Ample Hills Creamery creates thoughtful, funky ice cream that is perfect for bringing people together.  I journeyed to Gowanus, Brooklyn (Ample Hills has other shops in Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, and should you be on a magical vacation, Disney World) to try some of their original creations.  And what a taste I got...
I have had my share of ice cream flights through the years.  They are typically three or four flavors served to sample a variety of what that shop has to offer.  At Ample Hills, a flight is your choice of SIX flavors!  That's half a dozen scoops of cold, creamy concoctions to dance across your palate.  I still had trouble narrowing down the choices to pick only a hexad of Ample Hills' unique flavors to make up my flight.  With my selection in hand, we headed upstairs, where there is both indoor and rooftop seating available, to enjoy ice cream with a view.  New York is known for its rooftop bars where you can sip expensive cocktails high above the bustling streets, but only if the bouncer feels you meet the dress code.  I'll take refreshing ice cream, a friendly environment, and a view of downtown Brooklyn over that any day.  

What Greg and I got (because not even I am going to attempt six scoops of ice cream alone, this one's for sharing): Flight - Salted Crack Caramel, Butter Pecan Brittle, The Munchies, It Came From Gowanus, Snap, Mallow, Pop!, and Cookies Au Lait.
I had to go for the flight... but check out that sundae!

Just like when I was taking my first bite, I don't know where to begin.  I wound up diving into the Salted Crack Caramel first out of practicality; it was melting faster than its friends.  The flavor of the ice cream was almost savory, with a slight smokiness to salty caramel ice cream.  The crack caramel is hard and gives a crunch to the smooth base.  Ample Hills makes the crack caramel in house, and you can buy it as a treat on its own.  In fact, they make most of the mix ins themselves.

The Butter Pecan Brittle was the least complicated of the scoops we got.  Many of Ample Hills' ice creams have a lot going on, but I found a simplicity in the butter pecan.  It doesn't take things too seriously.  It knows that sometimes ice cream can just be ice cream, and even when surrounded by crazy combinations, that's a good, pure thing.  The base is a gentle brown sugar cinnamon, with the two flavors well balanced and subtle.  The pecan brittle gives a little crunch but still manages to keep things smooth.  

And then came The Munchies. This is one funky flavor.  It is a pretzel ice cream with chips, crackers, pretzels, and M&Ms mixed in.  It is sweet, salty, crunchy, creamy, and due to the candy, colorful.  The Munchies is everything you want from snack food, turned into an ice cream.  I was not able to identify the chips and crackers specifically, but found the salt and crunch from them for sure.

If there's something you can only get in one place, you can bet I'm going to order it.  It Came From Gowanus is only available at the Gowanus location, and it is as unique as its neighborhood.  The base flavor is a salted dark chocolate ice cream, and I realized that I have never had a dark chocolate ice cream before.  Why does nobody make dark chocolate ice cream?  It's really good.  Mixed in with that is Ample Hills' hazelnut crack cookies (more home made goodness), white chocolate pearls, and orange scented brownie pieces.  It all works; it's sweet and a little salty and rich from the dark chocolate.  I couldn't say for sure that I was able to taste, or is it smell, the orange in the brownie, but I enjoyed it without that element. 

Cookies Au Lait was a great coffee ice cream base, not too strong or bitter, very flavorful and sweet with pieces of sandwich cookies mixed in.  This is a rotating flavor, so get to Ample Hills quickly to try it. 

The unexpected star of this ice cream sextet was the Snap, Mallow, Pop! ice cream.  It was surprising and unmatched in its originality, and truly fulfilled the promise of being "a deconstructed rice krispie treat".  The ice cream itself is marshmallow flavored.  I was expecting maybe a vanilla or milk flavor with marshmallow pieces or sauce mixed in.  No.  It is in fact truly a marshmallow ice cream.  It even has a texture to it of an ooey gooey marshmallow treat.  With the rice krispie clusters mixed in, it was a cold, refreshing version of what you would make at home, if you went heavy on the mallows.  Great texture, great flavor, great ice cream. 
After all that, still don't see something that interests you?  That's ok.  Ample Hills is open to suggestions.
All in all, Ample Hills Creamery provides a relaxed, fun environment and creative flavors to let your imagination run wild.  I highly suggest checking out any of their locations for a very unique treat.  Oh, and if you are reading this, lovely Ample Hills Creamery creators, please do another run of The Dark Side and The Light Side.  I am heartbroken that I missed it.

The Rundown:
Where: Ample Hills Creamery
305 Nevins Street
Brooklyn, NY 11215
https://www.amplehills.com/
What they're known for: Original flavors of home made ice cream
A single cup or cone: $4.95
Most Extreme Menu Item: Crossing Brooklyn Ferry (banana split) $13
Non-ice cream menu options: Cold and Hot beverages

P.S. Ample Hills Creamery has master ice cream making classes!  I'm going to have to try one.

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