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New Amsterdam Market’s Second Annual Ice Cream Sunday

For days, heck weeks, I’ve been waiting for this particular food festival.  That’s not just because, as someone else put it to me today, “Ice cream is my favorite food group.”  (Thanks, Rebecca, at Brewla Bars for the quote!)  So, of course, I planned my whole day around getting to the New Amsterdam Market‘s Second Annual Ice Cream Sunday and fundraiser.  With my precious ten tasting tickets in hand, I scoped out the scene to work on my strategy.  I opted for one cool sample per stand of the ten vendors who were there, although it was a tough challenge to pick just a single flavor from many of them.

My first stop was Early Bird Cookery, who, last year, had one of the most interesting flavors that I’d ever tasted, their Hay ice cream.  I’ve also seen this ice cream available at Smorgasburg, if you’d like to stop by and see them there to try it out.  Today, however, I was intrigued by their Corn & Caramel flavor.  I tried a sample of it and found it to be, as they said, “Very corn forward.”  (Due in no small part to the 70 ears of corn that had to be shucked in order to create it, I was told.)  Although interesting and tasting kind of  like biting into a sweet ear of fresh corn, I decided it didn’t really wow my tastebuds.

Early Bird Cookery‘s Buttermilk, Blueberry & Lime cone

I decided instead to try the Buttermilk, Blueberry & Lime.  For me, this turned out to be a fantastic choice.  Chock full of ripe, juicy blueberry flavor with a zip from the lime and a zing from the buttermilk, this tasted like the most wonderful homemade blueberry pie I’ve never been able to master.  I could have gone back for more, but I knew I had to pace myself.

Selections from Victory Garden

On my next stop, I kept within the seasonal fruit flavors that I had started but with a twist.  Victory Garden makes ice cream from locally-sourced goat milk.  Before you think, “oh, that is going to be way too gamey tasting for me, just like the cheese” give it some consideration.  From their store on Carmine Street, they serve treats made with frozen yogurt and soft serve ice cream mixed with all sorts of toppings.

Blackcurrant Lavender cone from Victory Garden

For today, I went with the Blackcurrant Lavender flavor to sample.  Although all of these flavors individually (the milk, currants, and herbs) can be really strong standouts on their own, blended together, they melded into a mellow, luscious fruity, slightly perfumed creamy delight.  The ice cream was definitely fruit forward with the lavender following, but no one taste overwhelmed another.  In short, they worked together in sweet harmony.

Another entry from last year’s festival were the folks at Van Leeuwan Artisan Ice Cream.  They have really deep, flavorful selections at their stores and their truck, but they and I never seem to be in the same place when I’m craving a cool treat.  They had several interesting-sounding varieties to try, but I stuck to my fruit theme.

Ice cream tragedy!  Van Leeuwan‘s Hudson Valley Sour Red Currant

The Hudson Valley Sour Red Currant ice cream was my first, and only, ice cream tragedy of the day!  When getting my camera out of my bag, I tilted forward just a little bit, and the whole scoop just flipped off and landed ‘splat’ on the asphalt.  What little was left in the cone and what I could lick off of my fingers tasted great, from what I could tell.  Sweet berry flavor with the boldness of the currants tempered a bit by the creaminess of the dairy.  I’ll just have to see if I can track this one down again.

Offerings from Otto Enoteca Pizzeria

Usually associated with wine, pizza, and pasta, it was really interesting to see Otto Enoteca Pizzeria at this gathering today.  I’ve never gotten far enough in a meal (too much wine, too much great pasta and cheese) to try their famous Olive Oil Gelato.  They didn’t have that to try to day, bringing two other seasonal flavors with them.

Verbena Blackcurrant Swirl from Otto Enoteca Pizzeria

After my previous catastrophe, I felt that I was entitled to have another cone with a currant theme to it.  This time, however, rather than being blended entirely together, the Verbena Blackcurrant Swirl had smooth, rich vanilla gelato with deep pockets of blackcurrants.  The verbena gave it a light, lemon perfume.  As this fruit can be quite a dominant personality, I think I preferred it when it was incorporated into the ice creams rather than having nuggets of it like it was here, as it kind of overwhelmed the dairy for me.

The choices from Steve’s Ice Cream

When I was at this market about a month or so back, I finally had a chance to check out Steve’s Ice Cream.  I really enjoyed the ice cream sandwich that I had then with a chunk of their silky smooth rich Salty Caramel flavor nestled between two chocolate chip cookies.  On a trip to Smorgasburg, I’d seen their Strawberry Ricotta in people’s hands, and it had turned my head.  Seeing it on the list for today, I knew it was calling to me.

Steve’s Ice Cream Strawberry Ricotta cone 

At first bite, I knew that I had found the best strawberry ice cream I’ve ever had.  I grew up on the pink stuff that you could buy at the grocery store.  This is like strawberries and fresh cream all mixed together in creamy, fruity loveliness.  Made with Pickled Strawberries from Anarchy in a Jar (one of my finds from a previous market trip), the last bit of the cone was filled with a dollop of the aromatic, juicy, spice-note infused berries to give this creation an extra special pop.  I want to curl up on the couch with a whole pint of this just to myself.

Blue Bottle Coffee brought ice cream to the market today

Normally in the market selling iced and hot coffees to patrons, today, Blue Bottle Coffee did double duty and also sold ice cream. By the time I got to their stand, they were completely out of the Black Chocolate Stout flavor, which was a bit disappointing.  I think they might have also been the first producer to be completely out of all flavors today, too.

Blue Bottle Coffee‘s Chocolate Mint Chip

Fortunately, I managed to get one of the last scoops of their Chocolate Mint Chip variety.  At first bite, I got a huge hit of fresh mint flavor, herbal and cool.  Big chunks of Mast Brothers Dominican Republic chocolate chips were embedded within the creamy refreshing ice cream.  This was a grown-up version of my former ice cream parlor favorite, without the glowing green color.

Marlow & Sons selections

Another vendor using Mast Brothers delicious, deep, dark chocolate was Marlow & Sons.  Aside from trying lots of fruit flavors for this festival, I’d also decided that I wanted to consider some more out of the box creations.  When I saw the listing for Buffalo Milk, I had to ask, “Really?”

Buffalo Milk ice cream from Marlow & Sons

I was assured that, yes, this particular flavor was made with buffalo milk.  “Very creamy and rich, think of mozzarella,” I was told.  I think that they underestimated it.  This was buttery, definitely rich, a little bit milk-like, and with a back note of grassiness.  It did recall the components of the freshest buffalo mozzarella that I’d ever had.

KINGLeche Cremes flavors

These creations tasted to me a bit more like ice milks, than traditional ice creams.  Like the other vendors, they were put together using locally-sourced ingredients.  Again, I opted to go with the flavor that seemed a bit more unusual to me.

KINGLeche Cremes’ Honey Bourbon 

The Honey Bourbon combined Tremblay Apiaries spring varietal honey (found in the Greenmarkets) and bourbon from Kings County Distillery.  My first bite was full of bourbon taste and not much else.  I didn’t really get the honey in it, but I guess it was blended so well into the milk that it just let the liquor shine through.

I love La Newyorkina‘s paletas, but I haven’t ever tried her ice creams, when she’s had them.  Today was a chance to correct that serious deficiency.  Turned out that I was on line at the same time as some of the judges for the event.  I had a chance to say hello to Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheese who told that she had been “so excited” for this event.  She was with Gabrielle Langholtz, of Edible Brooklyn.

Piloncillo cone by La Newyorkina

This meeting was just a momentary distraction, however, from all of our important duties of the day, which was to taste Fany’s wonderful creations.  The gentleman on line behind me was someone whom I recognized from the New York Culinary Historians.  He’d pointed out to his kids that the title means “brown sugar.”  I knew from Fany’s tweets that this was the peach ice cream she’d been working on this week.  It was an easy choice to make and so delicious with chunks of ripe, sweet peaches studding a creamy, caramelly tasting confection, sort of like eating peach crumble with the brown sugar and butter and flour crust on top.

Oh, so many choices at The Bent Spoon

My favorite from last year had been the folks behind The Bent Spoon, so I had saved them for last.  They definitely brought their triple A game with them this year.  With one ticket left, I hesitantly approached their stand.  How to choose?  Fortunately, I was able to walk through their lineup before having to make my choice.  I could rhapsodize about all of their flavors, how the Beach Plum Nectarine tasted just like biting into a piece of ripe, juicy, dripping fruit or how the Chocolate-Cipollini alternated between creamy, smooth chocolate and biting chive-like tastes.  The Fresh Ricotta was milky and lemony while the Beet, Goats Cheese, Lemon, Basil had a sweetness from the vegetables while the lemon and herbs rounded it out.  The Bourbon-Vanilla had a great balance of sweet, salt, caramel, and cream.  Then, there was the Corn-Bacon (which I’d been following on Twitter) which had soft, sweet corn tones and meaty-smoky notes.  It was one of the most unique ice creams I tried all day.

My favorite, hands down – The Sweet Mary

But the one that really took the day for me was their Sweet Mary.  Tomatoes and celery from Z Food Farm combined with Penn Vodka and other flavorings to create what I can only describe as the best Bloody Mary that I’ve ever had but in ice cream form.  I could have eaten a few cones of this.  This is a genius of a creation and perfect for a warm, sunny Sunday.  I can’t wait to see what they come up with for next year!

Buon appetito!

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