Ignore the pink scoop on top — that was Strawberry Sassafras, which was fine but not particularly remarkable. The pale yellow below that, however, was one of the tastiest things I’ve eaten all year. The Banana Durian ice cream at Morgenstern’s Finest, on the Lower East Side, was incredible. Durian is a fruit native to SE Asia, notorious for its unique odor, it’s custad-like texture, and its flavors of cheese and onions. Click here for my reaction to eating fresh durian for the first time. The banana mixed in helped mellow the durian flavor, but it was still quite pronounced in all of its funky glory. My first bite of the ice cream made me sit up and take notice; I was transported back to the streets of Kuala Lumpur. My second confirmed my first impression — this was something special. I couldn’t get enough of it, and even considered going back for a pint to take home. I think it’s better as an occasional treat, though, and there’s something comforting in the knowledge that there’s banana durian ice cream out there, just waiting for me to return.
Morgenstern’s Finest Ice Cream — 2 Rivington St, NYC
This past Sunday, I was introduced to something I have never heard of or seen before. Hot beef!
Four & Twenty Blackbirds hosted an event with Amy Thielen (host of Heartland Table on the Food Network) where Thielen served hot beef (a combination of smoked brisket sandwich with a scoop of mashed potatoes and covered in gravy) and the Elsen sisters paired it with their blackbottom oatmeal pies PLUS complimentary Jeni’s ice cream and Kelson beer. Oh…boy. The hot beef was delicious, well I mean what’s not to like about meat, bread, potatoes and gravy?! The meat, smoked by Fletcher’s, was tasty and tender. I went back and forth between the hot beef and ice cream. Dude, that’s Jeni’s ice cream! I couldn’t let it melt so 2 bites of hot beef then 1 bite of ice cream.
It was fun hanging out and catching up with the Elsen sisters and Alex aka Brownie.
Also the unlimited flowing of Kelso beer. Ah yeah.
Four & Twenty Blackbirds, 439 3rd Ave Gowanus, Brooklyn
At a recent dinner I mentioned to a friend that I had found half-pints of a delicious, locally made ice cream at my local Union Market. When I mentioned it was Alchemy, she informed me that they made vegan ice cream. “I don’t think so,” I said. “It was rich and creamy.” She told me she was pretty sure it was vegan; was I talking about the same Alchemy that sold ice cream at Smorgasburg? “That’s them,” I said. “But the ice cream I ate wasn’t vegan. It was way too creamy.” Well I was wrong. Alchemy makes incredible vegan ice cream. According to research my dad did (more on that in a minute) they use “a blend of coconut & hazelnut milks” for their base. Hazelnut milk? Who ever heard of such a thing? But it works. A 12oz container will set you back $5.99 at Union market, which is the exclusive purveyor of Alchemy in the off-season. Alchemy also gives poetic names to their flavors, or potions as their website refers to them. I had Crunching Leaves, a name and flavor evocative of Autumn. It’s a pumpkin ice cream, but one that’s heavy on the pumpkin flavor and light with the sigar and spices that make up most other pumpkin ice creams. So now, on to my dad’s research…
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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.
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Last week when I wrote about Graeter’s Ice Cream I mentioned that I have been eating lots of small brand and locally produced ice creams. One of those brands is Chozen, an ice cream company that makes ice creams with Jewish-themed flavors (Kosher, of course). Flavors like Ronne’s Rugelach (cinnamon ice cream with rugelach chunks), or Coconut Macaroon. My favorite flavor is Apples & Honey. If you’re not Jewish you may not have had this flavor combination before, but it is a traditional Rosh Hashanah snack. Something about making sure the coming new year will be sweet, I think. Also, if you haven’t had this combo before you should definitely try it; there’s something about the smoky sweetness of the honey and the way it contrasts with the crisp, acidic sweetness of the apple that’s just magical. So Chozen’s version of honey ice cream (!) with pieces of apple in it. Their website is currently under construction and it looks like they may be unveiling new flavors. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.
Chozen Ice Cream
Image Courtesy of Graeter’s
I’ve eaten so much local and/or small batch ice cream in the past few years that I have started to consider myself something of an expert in the field. When Donny pointed out to me that we had been offered a free sample of Graeter’s ice cream, from Ohio, I was intrigued. Here was an opportunity to expand my field of knowledge to the Midwest. We were being offered the ice cream to let people know that Graeter’s is now available in the NYC area, at both D’Agostinos and Stop & Shop stores. The PR email let us know that Graeter’s is a favorite of such luminaries as Oprah, Dr. Oz, Sarah Jessica Parker, George Clooney, Emeril Lagasse and Bobby Flay. More important to us, it’s the childhood favorite of our friend Scott, who grew up in Ohio. When he found out that we were getting some free Graeter’s he got as giddy as a schoolgirl. I was sent samples of four different flavors: Black Raspberry Chocolate Chip, Chocolate Chocolate Chip, Mint Chocolate Chip, and Buckeye Blitz. I ended up eating almost all of it myself, but I saved the Black Raspberry for Scott, since that seemed to be the one he was most excited about. After the jump, you’ll find my impressions, along with Scott’s thoughts.
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The new West Village Big Gay Ice Cream spot has been opened for few weeks and the guys have been making new flavor ice cream almost every week. The space is bigger with benches and tables for people to sit down while they enjoy their ice cream. Though the biggest advantage of having a bigger space is the room to experiment. Doug and Bryan have been making ice cream flavors like coconut and hazelnut brownie. Yesterday Doug even tried making sundaes (vanilla ice cream, hazelnut brownie ice cream, awesomesauce, whipped cream and caramelized bananas).
Check out their new space and the banana sundae after the jump…
Continue reading “The Big Gay Banana Sundae”