August 16, 2011 | Short Order
My Chill Thrill List
by Alissa Merksamer
Real Italians serving real Italian gelato in Little Italy. Photo: Alissa Merksamer
Suffocating heat apparently inspires creativity in the freezer, because New York’s top-treat-makers have spent the last few months churning out a range of inventive sweets. Here are the ones you don’t want to miss:
Gelato or sorbet from La Cremeria.
Is it shocking or fitting that Little Italy now boasts one of the best gelaterias in New York? At newcomer La Cremeria, the fig sorbet tastes like fig, the strawberry is intensely strawberry-ish, and because it's all made fresh each day, you'll never find an offending ice flake. Traditional flavors like hazelnut and pistachio shine. Forget toppings. Forget fancified options like the sugary Monella with amarena cherries and chocolate. They're just distractions, and gelato this good doesn't need them.
178 Mulberry Street at Broome. 212 226 6758
Mr. Payard's dreamy macaron and brownie ice cream sandwiches. Photo: Alissa Merksamer
Pistachio macaron ice cream sandwich from François Payard Bakery:
With macaron mania raging, it’s not surprising that someone decided to swap traditional fillings for ice cream scoops. In pastry master Payard’s version, a nutty slab of pistachio ice cream (housemade, of course) cuddles with a hot pink raspberry sorbet bookended by two delicate pistachio macaroons. It's bright, nutty, and color-coordinated for summer. When only chocolate will do, go for the fudgy brownie sandwich with vanilla bean ice cream.
116 W Houston Street at Sullivan 212 995 088
Discarded ice cream sandwich ends that're just as good as their pretty siblings. Photo: Alissa Merksamer
Lavender ice cream bakery bits from Three Tarts
I happily forsake the portability and symmetry of a perfect ice cream sandwich for something that’s just as tasty but cheaper. At Three Tarts, $2.50 buys a carton of ice cream sandwich scraps (vs. $4 for a standard ice cream sandwich). The delicately floral lavender ice cream pocked with amber honey is so refreshing that I can ignore the occasional dryness of the lemon cake “sandwich” layer.
164 9th Avenue between 20th and 21st. 212 462 4392
Slightly anemic avocado shake and frothy tamarind float. Photo: Alissa Merksamer
Tamarind ice cream soda from Coppelia
Addictively sour and busting with froth and foam, Coppelia’s tamarind ice cream soda with tamarind sorbet showcases the talents of consulting pastry chef Pichet Ong. For a mellower option, I go for the lightly sweet avocado milkshake the color of sea foam. Ask for it “thick” unless you like it the texture of table cream.
207 W. 14th Street between 7th and 8th 212 858 5001
A generous mini-sized scoop at newcomer Steve's. Photo: Alissa Merksamer
Black Gold at Steve’s Ice cream
If there’s one new ice cream shop to try this summer it’s Steve’s. The famed New England institution opened last month near Bryant Park (there's also one in Brooklyn) and has been eagerly courting tasters. Everything can (and should) be sampled -- the fragrant saffron pistachio, the Brooklyn Blackout milk chocolate ice cream with chocolate stout cake, the earl grey dairy-free coconut crème that’s too silken to be believed. But chocolate fanatics will take home Black Gold. Rich with Taza chocolate liquor and velvety in texture, a mini is plenty, even for greedy mouths.
4 East 42nd Street at Madison.
Bond Street bon-bons are back just for summer Photo: Alissa Merksamer
Ice cream balls from Bond Street Chocolate
At Bond Street Chocolate, a miniscule chocolate shop in the East Village, owner Lynda Stern proves that even fabulous chocolate can be improved. Lately, she's been using it to armor golf-ball orbs of homemade ice cream. The flavors rotate between vanilla, ginger, and strawberry. Stern only makes the strawberry with berries purchased from the Union Square Greenmarket, so it's rarely avaialble. Despite multiple trips to Bond, I never arrived on a day when they had this rumored favorite in stock.
63 East 4th Street between Bowery and 2nd Avenue. 212 677 5103
In the course of all this summer licking, I did lap a few losers. There was the lump of flavorless snickerdoodle cookie dough buried in the middle of je & jo’s fragrant cardamom ice cream. And though I would dash to Cascabel Taqueria for a loaded taco, I would not linger for dessert. Even $2 is too expensive for a saccharine snow cone, with or without the optional shot of tequila.
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To read more by Alissa Merksamer, visit her blog, Glamorous Snacker