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."
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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

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Scooper Bowl New York

Did somebody say "all-you-can-eat ice cream"?!?!?!?!?  As soon as Scooper Bowl New York was announced my Facebook news feed sprang to life with friends tagging me in links to press releases.  The event's page promised endless ice cream from national and local vendors and, best of all, proceeds would go to support The Jimmy Fund (http://www.jimmyfund.org/).  You mean I can eat myself silly on frozen treats and support an amazing cause?  I secured my tickets instantly.
The big day arrived and, joined by friend and fellow ice cream lover Justin, we headed out to Bryant Park.  After scanning our tickets we each received a silver star hand stamp and a sampling spoon with instructions to hold onto it, and then the world was our ice cream dish!  We headed straight to the Vice Cream (http://www.eatvicecream.com/) tent.  None of us had heard of this creamery before.  I'm glad I know of them now.  They are starting to show up in grocery stores, so if you see them on the shelves grab a pint.  Apart from their sinfully tasty ice cream, Vice Cream had a station set up where you could write a letter to a cancer patient, which would be delivered with ice cream to kids in the hospital.  A visit to their website taught me that supporting cancer patients, their doctors, families, and support organizations, is a big part of Vice Cream's mission.  Seriously, buy a pint.
Justin and I attempted to eat all the ice cream we could see.

Vice flavors: Afternoon Delight, Bourbon Mash, L'Orange a Trois, Higher Grounds, Minted


Every flavor brought something special.  I was thrilled that they had varieties of my two favorites.  Minted is Vice's newest flavor and features a mint base with both mint chocolate "coins" and cookie pieces.  Higher Grounds isn't just a coffee ice cream.  It's coffee with chunks of mocha fudge, chocolate cookies, and espresso, which they somehow manage to make sweet.  Like creamsicles?  L'Orange a Trois is the most sophisticated deconstructed creamsicle you've ever had.  Afternoon Delight is a fusion of three classic ice cream flavors with cookie dough, ribbons of fudge and caramel sauce, and salted caramel.  The mix of sweet, salty, chocolate, and cookie dough makes a wonderful snack.  The star of Bourbon Mash ice cream is the bourbon caramel sauce that is laced through it.  The flavor of bourbon is there, but without the burn.
Vice Cream flavors for all!

Next we found our way to DF Mavens (http://dfmavens.com/), where they were scooping as fast as they could to keep up with the crowd.  We waited patiently, as there were promises of some really amazing flavors coming our way.  They were very much worth the wait.  The big surprise?  Every one of these amazing flavors is VEGAN.  So if you are looking for a delicious dairy free treat, not only does DF Mavens deliver, they convinced this lactose lover that an enjoyable alternative exists.


DF Mavens flavors: Raspberry, Red Bean, Key Lime Creme, Madagascar Vanilla Bean, Alphonso Mango


The Raspberry turned out to be a very pleasant sorbet; sweet, smooth, and cool.  I found the Red Bean to be too mealy.  The texture of the beans overtook the texture of the base ice cream.  The Alphonso Mango reminded me of drinking a mango lassi.  It was smooth and creamy and full of ripe mango flavor.  It took me back to the mango ice cream I got as a child at my family's favorite Indian restaurant.  The star at DF Mavens was the Madagascar Vanilla Bean.  I don't order vanilla ice cream often; it's simple and classic but not very exciting, so I go for the bigger flavors.  The Madagascar Vanilla Bean was the most delicious vanilla ice cream I've ever had.  It was one of the best flavors at the Scooper Bowl across the board.  There was a sophistication in the simplicity, a smoothness, and a fullness that made every bite luxurious.  It was only after singing the praises of Madagascar Vanilla Bean that we discovered it is a vegan ice cream, and that makes it an even grander accomplishment.
Then I saw people walking around with mini ice cream cones and made a bee line for a local favorite.

Our third stop was to a table featuring a New York favorite; Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory (https://www.brooklynicecreamfactory.com/).  I will go on a separate adventure to visit them soon, but I'm so glad they brought their flavors and fun to the Scooper Bowl.  Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory absolutely gets top marks for presentation. 

Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory flavors: Strawberry, Chocolate Chocolate Chunk, Vanilla, Pistachio

...Or at least those are the ones they listed.  All of the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory flavors were being served on tiny ice cream cones.  Ice cream is always more fun on a cone!  It gives you a little extra treat at the end and gave my tiny spoon a rest.  We each grabbed a flavor; Greg got Pistachio, Justin took Strawberry, and I went for Chocolate Chocolate Chunk, as I hadn't had any chocolate yet.  All were as fresh and fun as ever.  And then we saw it... open face ice cream sandwiches.  Ok, so it was really vanilla ice cream atop a giant Oreo cookie, but it was good!  I had to eat it fast to keep the ice cream from melting off the cookie.  Later in the day I went back to the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory booth, thinking I wanted to get Strawberry this time.  I instead had a wonderful surprise; they had started scooping Blueberry!  I got myself one last cone with the blueberry goodness and thoroughly enjoyed every lick.

Open face Oreo
Surprise Blueberry





















Next to Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory was Graeter's (https://www.graeters.com/).  This is the first I had tried the fourth generation Midwest ice cream brand. Their ice cream was rich and creamy.  The flavors were not too fancy, but knew what they were, and what they were was good.

Graeter's flavors: Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, Double Chocolate Chip, Madagascar Vanilla Bean

After having thoroughly sampled the creamy cold commodities of the first four vendors, we filled up what space remained with the national brands that were present.  Ben and Jerry's will always have a special place in my heart, and I love that they are environmentally and socially responsible (learn more here: http://www.benjerry.com/values).  I went for a taste of The Tonight Dough Starring Jimmy Fallon (caramel and chocolate ice cream with cookies, chocolate chip and peanut butter cookie dough) and found the caramel/chocolate/peanut/salty/sweet/smooth/goopy mix to hit the spot. Breyers, who makes the Neapolitan of my childhood, was the next tent over. I sampled their Cookies and Cream, which is simple and smooth and satisfying. Just so we could say we had tried everything we headed over to Baskin Robins. Generally I avoid Dunkin Donuts' frozen sister, but it was part of the experience. Love Potion #31 was cloyingly sweet with a tang to the flavor which can only be artificial. I guess the chocolate hearts were cute. Honestly, in a city with so much great ice cream, why would anyone waste their time? Hรคagen Dazs was our last stop of the day. They were giving out single serving containers so I took my mint chocolate chip to go, leaving the Scooper Bowl and all its cold, creamy, child-helping, world-changing goodness behind.