Ice Cream from Gimmick to Rapture

Denizens of the Internet can have just lately change into conversant in, if not bored with, the phrase “nature is healing,” typically utilized archly to our sluggish return to pre-pandemic habits. I admit that the phrases crossed my thoughts the opposite day as a stranger approached me in Union Square. A pal and I had been strolling by means of the Greenmarket carrying paper ice-cream cups, which a eager observer—as this stranger was—might need seen had been the precise bright-blue shade of a field of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. Indeed, the chilly confection inside was the unmistakable hue of powdered orange Cheddar.

Caffè Panna’s Strawberriest options fruit from the Union Square Greenmarket.

We’d acquired our complimentary mac-and-cheese-flavored scoops from a truck parked on Seventeenth Street, a promo for an unlikely collaboration between the boutique New York ice-cream model Van Leeuwen and the Kraft Heinz Company. “How is it?” the stranger requested. “Listen, you’re going to save me the trouble of waiting in line,” she went on. She eliminated a miniature Swiss Army knife from her purse, extracted the blade, and swiped a melty glob. What might we do however snicker?

My immediate pal—an attractively coiffed lady of a sure age who self-identified as “New York’s No. 1 ice-cream fanatic”—appeared to share my evaluation of the gimmick: a supposedly enjoyable taste I’ll by no means attempt once more. Though I discovered it eerily correct, within the spirit of Willy Wonka’s three-course-dinner chewing gum, I’d sooner have a bowl of precise mac and cheese adopted by Van Leeuwen’s good Sicilian Pistachio (scoops from $5.50; pints $12). I’ll cross, as properly, on the Everything Bagel taste launched to nice fanfare by Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams (scoops from $5.25; pints $12), out of Ohio, earlier this 12 months, and I felt vaguely affronted by the pint of Bacon, Egg, and Cheese (a “mildly cheesy” base with a runny-yolk swirl, candied bacon, and poppy seeds) that I discovered within the freezer at Danny Meyer’s café Daily Provisions. Ice cream is joyful, however it’s no joke!

Seasonal flavors from Bad Habit, a small Brooklyn operation run by a pair of restaurant veterans, embody Sweet Corn and Milk & Honey.

The B.E.C. was a particular left over from Father’s Day and made by Caffè Panna, a Roman-inspired espresso bar and ice-cream store—opened, in late 2019, by Meyer’s daughter Hallie—the place the flavors have a tendency towards playful however not often stoop to stunt (scoops $5.50; pints $13). As befits the household identify, Hallie’s is a critical, and critically good, enterprise. The panna—“cream,” in Italian—is imported from Piemonte and isn’t solely combined into most of the ice-cream bases, that are churned on-site weekly, with a rotating array of native and Italian elements as mix-ins, but additionally whipped and dolloped atop any order upon request, freed from cost. One current afternoon, perched on a stool at an out of doors counter, I entered a state simply shy of rapture, surrounded by cloud-capped cups of Sea Salt Saba (Trapani sea-salt base with a swirl of intensely concentrated grape-must syrup), Red Flag (candy cream with strawberry jam and graham crunch), and a splendidly velvety, unexpectedly pink White Peach Sorbet.

Bad Habit pints can be found for pickup or supply from their headquarters, in Bushwick, and are additionally carried by a small choice of shops in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

There are pints to take house, too; availing myself of an insulated bag outfitted with ice packs ($7), I toted a number of on the subway, together with Panna Stracciatella, flecked with dark-chocolate shards, and Somebody Scoop Phil, the brainchild of the sitcom producer turned meals persona Phil Rosenthal, that includes a frivolously salted malted milk-chocolate base, dense with chunks of Twix and candied peanuts, plus swirls of fudge and panna caramel that oozed obscenely once I peeled off the lid.

Bad Habit’s Coconut & Lime, a summer time providing, is each refreshing and gloriously wealthy.

I added these to my freezer stash from Bad Habit, a small operation run by Jesse and Javier Zuniga, a Bushwick-based couple who’ve labored at eating places together with Lilia, Contra, and Llama Inn. Their seasonal pints ($15) have been obtainable for pickup and supply since March, and are carried by specialty outlets in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Great Barrington, Massachusetts. The Roasted Banana with Coffee Caramel is nearly as good because it sounds, surging with darkish lowered sugars, however the taste that made my eyes widen was the Coconut & Lime, one way or the other much more tropical than the sum of its components, directly gloriously wealthy and refreshing. ♦


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