So in my last two ice cream posts (see here and here) I mentioned my belief that I have become something of an expert in small batch ice creams. And yet for a long time there was a huge gap in my knowledge — Jeni’s Ice Cream. Oh, I’d heard of Jeni’s before, and heard that it was excellent. But it costs a staggering $12 a pint, so the few times I saw it for sale here in Brooklyn (Jeni’s is an Ohio brand, but can sometimes be found in specialty shops like the Greene Grape and Union Market) I could not bring myself to spend the money on it. Back when I wrote a profile of Phin & Phebes I got into a discussion about ice cream with one of the owners, who assured me that Jeni’s was indeed worth the price. So a few moths ago during a trip to Brooklyn Fare (the market, not the chef’s table) I splurged on a pint of Goat Cheese With red Cherries.
It was good; better than good. But worth $12? Probably not. The goat cheese gave the ice cream an unusual (not bad, just unusual) texture, and the creamy texture is what I had been hearing so much about. So even though I had decided Jeni’s wasn’t worth the price, I heard a nagging voice in the back of my head that I hadn’t really given Jeni’s as fair shot, I hadn’t done my due diligence. So when I saw a seasonal special, Sweet Potato With Torched Marshmallow, for sale at Union Market I scooped it up (forgive the pun) and made up my mind that this would be the deciding pint.
I don’t know if the photo does it justice, but this was the most wonderfully decadent pint of ice cream I’ve ever eaten. The sweet potato flavor was pronounced, and not overly sweet. The marshmallow chunks were soft and had a distinctive smoky flavor. It was worth the $12, though it’s obviously not an everyday kind of ice cream. I’ve since bought a third pint, something called Brambleberry Crisp. There is no such thing as a brambleberry though; the creamy vanilla ice cream is shot through with a jam of blackberries, black raspberries, and black currants. Even better were the chunks of oat streusel dotted throughout. I suppose the fact that I bought a third pint means I had my answer.
I’d say that for special occasions, Jeni’s is totally worth the price. For those “cry yourself to sleep in front of the TV while contemplating your insignificant place in a cold unforgiving universe” occasions, best to stick to something cheaper.