There is no better or cooler way to beat the heat than with ice cream. It’s a classic treat that brings relief and sweetness to a hot, sweltering day.
I would say texture is the number 1 thing I look for in ice cream. I love a good soft serve and a creamy ice cream is a dreamy ice cream ;). But I love to find bits and pieces of textural contrast that just provides your mouth with a nice surprise.
Big Gay Ice Cream started as an ice cream truck. It’s quickly rising popularity made it possible for them to open up a store front and now there are two locations each in NYC and in Philly. They’re not afraid of using big flavors such as pumpkin butter, bourbon butterscotch, curry coconut, ginger curry, etc (they have a ‘recipe’ book that actually shows you a lot of ways to extract a lot of unique flavors from many different spices that are not usually used in ice cream).
The “Bea Arthur” cone is my favorite. It’s relatively simple but the combo of vanilla soft serve, dulce de leche, and crushed nilla wafers just work so well. In fact, I love the combo so much that I’ve been “Bea Arthur-ing” up many homemade dessert like ice cream sandwich and cheesecake.
I also like “The Mermaid” which is vanilla soft serve, key lime curd, crushed graham crackers, and whipped cream. The key lime curd is very tart so while I like this cup of ice cream, it can get to be too much for me. This is the one I would share with a friend.
I think their most popular cone is the “Salty Pimp” which I’m actually not all too crazy about. It’s vanilla soft serve with dulce de leche, sea salt, and a chocolate dip. This pimp is a mean pimp and has no problem punching you in the gut with salt. Many people seem to like it but I find that each time I’ve tried it, it has been overly salty and overwhelming.
Overall, Big Gay Ice Cream is a unique place. You can tell they have so much fun with their creations and it really shows in their final products.
Another place I like closer to my hood is Ample Hills Creamery.
I am in love with this! It’s so incredibly sweet but I can’t stop myself from taking bite after bite. The sweet cream is a great creamy base that I think would be amazing on it’s own but then you get these pieces of honeycomb (that can stick to the roof your mouth) that provides such a satisfying crunch and offers a caramel like sauce to the . Seriously, this is such a sugar bomb but worth every spoonful.
Other flavors I enjoy are Nonna D’s Oatmeal Lace (Brown sugar cinnamon ice cream with oatmeal cookie pieces) and Mexican Hot Chocolate (Dark chocolate ice cream with cinnamon and ground chili flakes). Chocolate was absolutely my favorite flavor growing up but as I’ve gotten older, chocolate was no longer my go-to for ice cream. But the Mexican Hot Chocolate at Ample Hills is legit. I’m not even big on dark chocolate but I love the intensity of it here and the cinnamon partying along and finally chili creeping up on you. It’s a weird sensation to be eating it where one moment it’s like you’re getting brain freeze but then the heat from it is like warming up your insides.
They are also really known for their Salted Caramel flavor. And “The Munchies” which is vanilla ice cream with pretzel bits, Ritz crackers, potato chips, and M&Ms for that salty/sweet combo you can’t deny.
Ample Hills is more of a family spot. You see a lot of parents with their kids enjoying a nice treat together. They also sell pints of their most popular flavors on their website so give it a try if you can’t make it to the storefront. They deliver nationwide.
Brooklyn Farmacy is a treat not only for your palette but also for your eyes. I love the retro design/feel of the place. It is almost like stepping back into another era.
I’m not an espresso girl but I must say this was quite nice and decadent in a way that didn’t feel too heavy.
They also have classic egg creams, malted shakes, etc. If you don’t want dessert (not sure why one would come here then?!) they have other diner fare/savory items.
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory is mostly on my list for nostalgic reasons. It was the first place I ate at when I was a kid that had more interesting flavors than your normal vanilla, chocolate, strawberry. It’s still a good place for a variety of Asian flavors including black sesame, taro, lychee, dan tat, etc.
So the new craze with ice cream is the Thai handrolled ice cream. You can see the process here: Thai Rolled Ice Cream Rolls
I didn’t like the Thai ice tea with lychee base. Somehow the lychee (which is folded into the ice cream itself as it “cooks”) was very overwhelming and I could barely taste the Thai ice tea flavor. But I loved the condensed milk topping.
Minus Celsius also does this Thai handrolled ice cream. It’s pretty much the same as I-CE NY but you can get unlimited toppings here. I did not know so I didn’t get too many but that might be good as you don’t want too many competing flavors.
I enjoyed both the Thai ice tea and Matcha flavor but the edge goes to the Thai ice tea.
Does hand rolled ice cream taste better than “normal” ice cream? Not really but I like the different toppings and bases you can add which allows you to be creative in making any combo you want. And I just really like Thai ice tea in general and not a lot of places serve that as a flavor for some reason.
If I had to choose which to go back to, I would pick Minus Celsius as it’s unlimited toppings and I love hanging in the LES.
Something that I haven’t tried yet is liquid nitrogen ice cream. I’ve heard from friends that – 321 Ice Cream Shop is good. If you guys have any recommendations, please let me know.
What is the secret to an amazing ice cream for you? What are your favorite flavors and where do you go for it? Please let me know in the comments.
Enjoy the mew life,