Posted by: adventuressetravels | July 8, 2011

Ice Cream, you scream, we all scream for…

Ice cream, helado, gelato, sorbet.…  Ice cream by any name would taste delicious

New York certainly has some of the most diverse and best ice cream parlors in the world.  Each one with their special spin on the frozen dessert.  I have certainly missed quite a few parlors, but here are a few of my favorites:

Il Laboratorio del Gelato http://www.laboratoriodelgelato.com/

Hidden in Manhattan’s Lower East Side the Laboratorio is well worth the trek

The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck's Wasabi Cone

downtown.  Truly a laboratory, this ice cream shop scores a perfect 10 when it comes to creativity.  Their ever-growing menu features over 200 flavors including such unusual concoctions as Rosemary, Chocolate Thai Spice, and of course favorites like sea salt caramel.

I adore trying new flavors and sampling unusual mixtures, and if you want to try flavors you have never even dreamed of, the Laboratorio de Gelato is definitely the place do to it.  However, the creative flavors do somewhat mask the ice cream itself.  By no means is it bad, simply if I want to try a more traditional flavor I would go somewhere else.  Whether it is the ingredients they use or the amounts, the ice cream is not as rich as some places and the flavors, though interesting, do not pop

Plusses: original, creative unique flavors

Minuses: average ingredient quality in ice cream and sorbet, flavor not nearly as strong as traditional gelato

Ciao Bella http://www.ciaobellagelato.com/

Grom's sinfully rich Cioccolato Extranoir sorbet and mouthwatering strawberry sorbet

Started in 1983, and sold a few years later with the recipes, by the now owner of Il Laboratorio del Gelato, this chain has locations all across the country and sells its ice cream in grocery stores as well.  While it does feature some more creative flavors, such as blood orange sorbet and fromage blanc, it does not have the range of Il Laboratorio del Gelato.  Unfortunately it has the same problem with ingredient quality.  Though the ice cream is good, it is not outstanding and I find Ciao Bella relies chiefly on their reputation, history, and connections.  I find their catch phrase “America’s gelato” quite apt: it is an Americanized and watered down version of real gelato.

Plusses:  countrywide locations, interesting flavors

Minuses: Average ingredient quality in ice cream and sorbet, flavor not nearly as strong as traditional gelato.

Grom  http://www.grom.it/eng/index.php

With far more traditional flavors than many of the other ice cream parlors in

Grom in all its glory

New York, Grom doesn’t have to score points with creativity.  Probably the only true gelato I have ever had in the United States, and better than most I have had in the world, Grom doesn’t need to try.  The quality of their product speaks for itself.

Part of the reason for this gelato standing a head and shoulders above all other “gelatos” is that Grom uses all natural and organic ingredients and you can taste the difference.  Some of my favorite flavors are:

The extra dark chocolate, Cioccolato Extranoir,  is not for the faint of heart.  Unless you are a true chocolate lover it might just be too much for you.  You can almost taste the coco beans in this dense midnight-dark chocolate.  Decadence is an understatement as you savor the shavings of 80% chocolate.  It is hard to believe no milk goes into this rich, creamy taste of heaven.

The pistachio is almost a nut butter it is so rich in flavor the rich taste explodes in your mouth.  I almost invariably pair it with the Cioccolato Extranoir and need to actually close my eyes the flavor experience is so amazing.

Sorbets are wonderful for something slightly lighter in warm weather.  Grom uses only fruits in season, spring water, and a little cane sugar are all that goes into their heartbreakingly good sorbet.  Their strawberry is unquestionably the best sorbet I have ever tasted.  Bursting with flavor, you can literally taste every strawberry that went into making this thick gelato.

Pros: Phenomenally decadent gelato with intense flavor worthy of Italy,  top shelf ingredients (organic, seasonal fruit…), friendly service

Cons:  a bit pricey (but unquestionably worth it)

Chinatown Ice Cream Factory http://www.chinatownicecreamfactory.com/

A true gem at 65 Bayard Street in the heart of Chinatown ­­­­­­­­NYC, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory was doing fusion before fusion was popular.  Blending traditional Asian flavors such as green tea, red bean, durian, sesame, durian, and many more with Western ice cream Chinatown Ice Cream factory is fantastic.  Practically a New York institution, the tiny shop has been open for over 28 years, and with the demand for their delicious deserts will be open for many more.

A wonderful place to stop by if you are in Chinatown, Chinatown Ice Cream Factory does have a wide variety of fantastic flavors.  They even feature the “exotic” flavors strawberry, vanilla, and chocolate.  I would recommend their “traditional” flavors more, though Chinatown Ice Cream Factor is wonderful  at their forte, Asian flavors, the ice cream is not as decadent as some.

Plusses: Unusual flavors, huge  servings

Minuses: no seating, average ice cream ingredient quality (good but nothing special)

Cones  272 Bleecker

Cones fabulous Argentine ice cream parlor

Argentina’s version of ice cream is called helado.  It is something like the lovechild of US ice cream and Italian gelato.  It  is a delectable desert in its own right.  The texture is different, the flavor unique and strong enough to bring a smile to the lips of a hardened ice cream aficionado.  Luckily you don’t have to go all the way to Argentina for spectacular rich, creamy, flavorful helado.  Cones, a small  little ice cream parlor in the West Village makes some of the best helado I have had in or outside of Argentina.  Some of the unusual flavors they offer are:

Sambayon, or Zabayone as it is listed in Cones, is probably my all-time favorite ice cream flavor.  Richer, almost a hybrid between custard and ice cream, it has a tantalizing flavor of Marsala wine.  It is supposed to be the flavor of the Italian dessert Zabayone, but I actually like sambayon helado significantly better than the dessert.  Cones makes

No Argentine ice cream store would be complete without dulce de lecheDulce de leche is to Argentina what peanut butter is to America.  There is practically an entire isle of the caramel-like spread in the supermarket.   Cones’ dulce de leche helado is above and beyond the decadence of actual dulce de leche.  Its strong flavor of caramelized, almost burnt milk is blended perfectly with the rich creamy, almost-soft helado.  Cones even has Dulce de leche with chocolate chips which  is a match made in heaven.  Like milk and cookies, peanut butter and jelly, dulce de leche and chocolate is one of the truly great combinations.

Corn – Cones lists this flavor as a favorite in Brazil.  I can well understand why.  I would never have thought of corn as an ice cream flavor but somehow it works.  The mild flavor has a round, fullness to it that is well worth trying.

Maté – this famed Argentine tea is healthful as well as delicious.  Though I am not entirely sure that the ice cream shares the healthful antioxidant, immune system boost, cholesterol lowering, or other beneficial qualities of the tea it certainly is tasty.  A milder version of the tea  maté is a flavor right out of Argentina and well worth sampling.

Plusses: Unique flavors, high-quality rich creamy ice cream, strong flavors, huge portions, great service

Minuses: No website, not more locations!

The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck  http://www.biggayicecreamtruck.com/

The first time I heard about the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck I knew I had to go.  An ice cream truck that offered gourmet cones?  It sounded incredible.  I looked the truck’s schedule up online to see where it would be making its next appearance and headed downtown.

From a distance the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck looks like a regular Mr. Softee truck (NYC’s ice cream trucks), but the difference ends there.  With fantastic creations like the “Salty Pimp,” a  chocolate dipped cone sprinkled with sea salt, the wasabi powder dipped wasabi cone, or the cococone rolled in toasted coconut and curry powder every cone is a treat.  There is invariably a line down the block to get to the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, and it is well worth the wait, even in the summer heat.

Pros: Novelty, creative toppings, great service

Cons:  Long Line, normal soft serve ice cream

 

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Responses

  1. I love the Big Gay Ice Cream truck! Anything with Nutella on it is tops. Also the Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory is fabulous for old school classic ice cream flavors. Their strawberry is fab.

    You were right about the zabayone, too. I tried it and it was just as good as you described.

  2. Written with precision, passion, and best taste.

  3. I’m Fabio from couchsurfing.
    Your blog is really nice.
    Compliments


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