This Sunday, when I looked outside, it hardly seemed like appropriate weather to head downtown to the Ice Cream Festival at the New Amsterdam Market. Still, the chance to try six sample-sized cones of handmade, artisanal treats for just $20.00 was too tempting to keep me lounging around my apartment for long. Besides, I had written about how much my grandfather had enjoyed eating ice cream, and this would be a way to honor his memory as well as that of his Dutch ancestry, as that same site has housed many of New York's markets.
My first stop was to try MilkMade Ice Cream's Blackberry and Gingersnap flavor. I loved the tart fruit paired with the peppery backnote of the ginger. This one definitely topped the fruit category for me of the samples that I had at the market. They offer a monthly delivery program where you can have a pint of locally-sourced, handmade ice cream right at your door, if you live within a certain area. I discovered that I am in one of the zip codes they serve, which makes this an item to put on my holiday wish list.
The next stand I visited was Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, which has a store in Greenpoint, Brooklyn and several trucks stationed around the city. I opted for Pistachio, which can sometimes be a difficult flavor to love. This one was rich and creamy with lots of nuts. On an errand of mercy later in the market, I grabbed a cup of their Chocolate for Karen Seiger, who was manning the table for her terrific book, Markets of New York City. She raved about how delicious it was.
For my next two choices, I went a bit out-of-the-box as far as ice cream flavors go, at least for me. I stopped by Roberta's (based in a pizzeria in Brooklyn) and Early Bird Cookery (a catering and food-delivery service). At the former, I had their Husk Cherry cone. This is based upon a fruit called the cape gooseberry, which is a small, papery-husk covered yellow orb. The taste is something like a cross between a cherry and a pineapple. It made for an interesting sample. I could see having a scoop of it along with a molten chocolate cake or a slice of pound cake as a tangy-tart counterpoint.
At the latter place, I tried their Hay ice cream. Yes, that is right, hay. This one tasted a lot like honey with a nutty backnote, which was not an unpleasant flavor at all. One of the more interesting aspects of this stand, however, was that the bowls they were using are made of a compostable sugarcane base. The spoons were made of birch. This is a long way from the plastic-coated paper cups of my elementary school days.
Finally, I was faced with a dilemma. Two tickets left and two stands to go. Should I pick one flavor to try from each, as I'd done with the others? I asked the two women who were standing next to me as I finished up my most recent selection. Go to The Bent Spoon and try their Bourbon Vanilla Sea Salt Caramel, they advised, you can't miss it. Oh, they were so right! It is a good thing that I didn't have this as my first flavor of the day, as I don't think I would have continued to eat anything else. At first bite, my synapses fired on high alert: bourbon, vanilla, salty, sweet, creamy, decadently smooth, rich lusciousness all at once. This was ice cream heaven!
The other recommended flavor (on the left in the photo) was the Nectarine, which had a deeply fruity, refreshing palate cleansing taste. It is made from Terhune Orchard produce, which I know from visiting their stand at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturdays. Still, I think that my favorite ice cream of the day was the first one that I tried from The Bent Spoon. Apparently, other folks thought the same way as I did because it had the longest line of any of the stations.
My apologies for not visiting Marlow and Daughters, but I ran out of tickets by that point, and the downpour had become torrential. I hope that the New Amsterdam Market folks decide to hold another one of these events, so that I can get there next time. There were also so many other flavors that I had wanted to try including Peach and Black Pepper and Concord Grape. It was wonderful to see all the ice cream being made locally and with seasonal ingredients, and I think that my grandfather would have enjoyed making a trip with me to check out all the samples.
New Amsterdam Market is located near the South Street Seaport, between Beekman Street and Peck Slip, near the site of the former Fulton Fish Market. See website for directions and closest means of transportation. From Sunday, September 12, 2010, the market will be functioning on a weekly basis.