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Entries in Ice Cream (9)

Thursday
Jan102013

Semifreddo Snapshot

As many of you know, I (Elana) have been practicing my food photography. Learning a new skill takes time. Time and desserts. Case in point: this Brandy and Mascarpone Semifreddo from Food and Wine Magazine which Marmo and I made for Christmas dessert.

Semifreddo is Italian for "half cold." It's essentially an icecream without all the churning business. Like a half-assed ice cream, in terms of preparation, but whole-assed in terms of flavor.

How's that for a description? Anyway, even though we made this for Christmas dinner, semifreddo is something you can make all year long. This specific version called for fruits steeped in wine, which gave it a wintery flair. But you could use strawberries in June, or peaches and nectarines in August.

A semifreddo is ALL about adaptation. It is also all about sticking to whatever container you freeze it in. That's why, while I will give you the link to the original recipe, I have the following notes to make:

1. Line the container you plan on freezing this half-assed dessert in with plastic wrap. Unless you plan on scooping it out like whole-assed ice cream.

2. Make sure you let the egg mixture cool completely. Don't skimp on this part.

3. If you chill the bowl in which you are whipping your cream, it will whip up more quickly.

4. The picture from Food and Wine looks so amazing, but I have no idea how they got it to maintain the mold shape so perfectly. We had to make our twice. The first time we froze it into a giant mold sans plastic wrap. It is now permanently stuck in there.

5. Use small forms for individual servings. It's a lot easier. 

Wednesday
Oct262011

A Trio of Desserts at Dovetail

You know the saying, "Eat dessert first." The word "first" implies that you might need something (for example regular dinner) after because your dessert entree was not sufficient. Or not satisfying.

If this is the case, you have obviously been eating dessert first at the wrong establishments. Allow me to help you out with that.

I'm the type of eater that goes to a restaurant and immediately flips to the dessert menu. I want to see if I should plan my main meal around dessert.

Factors to consider include:

1. How hungry am I – if dessert looks really good, should I get an appetizer as well?

2. Who am I eating with? Are my co-diners likely to order dessert? Will I be able to steal some of theirs? Will they want to steal some of mine? (Back off, moochers!)

3. How much of the menu do I want to try — is it a new place, or somewhere I have been before?

4. How many of the desserts do I want to sample? Often more than one look appealing and if I can't count on anyone else to help me out with them, I must adjust my "real" dinner accordingly.

As you can see, there are many factors in play. Sometimes the desserts look so good you must give up on real dinner altogether and just go all in. For dessert.

Dovetail is just the restaurant for this kind of thing.

The above dessert is the Cinnamon Toast Panna Cotta. Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert translated as "cooked cream". It usually has a jello/pudding-like consistency with a creaminess that can't be beat.

In this case, the cream was accented by concord grapes, the teeniest cinnamon toast triangles, a smear of rich berry preserves and some fun foam. I really liked the foam. I'm not sure it tasted like anything, but it was cool. The rest of the dessert was fantastic - the cream was perfectly balanced by the intense flavor from the grapes, while the tiny toasts added a bit of crunch and spice.

Next up was the Frozen Pumpkin Pie. This was a deconstructed pie, as the various components of the "pie" were arranged linearly along a swash of cranberry reduction. It was a sight to behold, but not for long once my fork got a grip on its chocolatey accents (both from cracker pieces and moist, dark chunks of cake). The pumpkin scoop seemed like a combination of pie filling and ice cream as it had a heartier consistency than regular ice cream. Solid, pumpkiny and perfectly spiced. Cranberries and little marshmallow puffs accented the dish to give a blast of tang and sweetness.

The above was actually a little dessert "appetizer". I love it when I get dessert appetizers. Unexpected, pretty little treats. They make me feel special. Every girl wants to feel special, you know?

This little guy accomplished that with a dollop of celery sorbet atop cute cubes of yellow vanilla cake. I was a little obsessed with the celery sorbet. The celery flavor was so refreshing. Savory, but sweet at the same time, perhaps helped in that regard by the cake. Tiny, perfect, special.

There was also a Bittersweet Chocolate Soufflé that I could not photograph, as it left the table by way of fork-to-mouth so rapidly, a camera snap couldn't keep up.

A personal-sized ramekin of bittersweet chocolate was pierced gently with a knife by our server. Into this crevice was poured a fine caramel sauce of perfectly balanced sweetness. One small globe of chai ice cream was positioned on the perimeter, ripe for the dipping.

As you can see, there was no need for real dinner. This dessert dinner was more than enough. We left satisfied, happy, and very, very full. Of dessert.

Overall Dessert Eating Experience: The Dark Knight

Wednesday
Aug032011

Amorino Gelato

The Great Gelato Search continues, and this time it brought me to Amorino, located at 60 University Place.

I had been wanting to try this place, both to expand the gelato hunt and also out of curiosity, as this gelateria happens to be a chain.

I'm always a little apprehensive about chains...I feel like they need to work harder to prove their salt (or in this case sugar). I wonder if fine, artisanal quality can be maintained with such a broad outreach.

In the case of Amorino, their product proves that they can indeed maintain quality. Further, their gelato exhibits the key characteristcs that separate it from ice cream (more rich and dense, and served warmer - get extra napkins for melting!).

The gelato chefs at Amorino apparently take great pains to achieve these results, churning it everyday day in typical Italian fashion. They also try to source the highest quality ingredients for their flavors.

The set-up inside Amorino is quite polished. Long, well-lit glass cases highlight the flavors, velvet ropes herd customers in the right direction (as in Italy, you pay before you receive your gelato), and tables at the back half of the shop.

I had wanted to try the "foccacina" which is Amorino's version of the ice cream sandwich. But they were out of foccacina, so I opted for a cone with Vaniglia Bourbon del Madagascar (Bourbon Vanila), surrounded by "petals" of Caffé puro Brasile (Coffee). And when I say, "petals" I mean it. Amorino arranges their gelato like a flower perched onto a sugar cone stem.

It's quite a feat of physics. A tasty feat. The Bourbon Vanilla was a stand-out. Speckled throughout with vanilla beans, it was rich (probably due to the profusion of vanilla beans) with a delicate infusion of bourbon that blended perfectly.

Amorino's website claims about their vanilla that, "it doesn't get better than this!" and they might be right. I have rarely been so tickled by a vanilla flavor (I usually opt for something a bit more "daring"), but I found myself wanting more of Amorino's version.

The surrounding Coffee flavor was excellent in terms of consistency and texture. A beautiful light toffee color, but the flavor was a bit mild. I wanted more coffee punch, as it would have been a nice contrast to the vanilla.

Interestingly, the Coffee flavor proved to be the "vanilla" of the two, while the actual Vanilla was a heavy-hitting flavor explosion.

For me, Amorino has proved that it can maintain quality product in the face of global expansion. I hope they keep it up. At least long enough for me to return and try a foccacina.

Amorino
60 University Place, New York City

Monday
Jul112011

The Lot at The Highline โ€“ Activities for Your Summer Vaca

With all the outdoor eating options in New York provided by gardens, parks, food trucks and fenced-in sidewalks, I'm hardly ever eating indoors anymore. Which is a good thing, because I make a mess. Take me anywhere but out.

The Lot at the Highline allows you to take your extra napkins out-of-doors, maximize your mess-making and also score some seriously tasty treats.

I posted briefly about The Lot before, when I talked about Coolhaus' collossal (in flavor and size) ice cream sandwiches. Joining Coolhaus, are some other reputable food-dispensing trucks that sandwich the picnic tables underneath The Highline at 30th Street, starting with the Korilla BBQ truck.

I can't claim to be an expert on Korean BBQ. But I am an expert on good-eatin' and this certainly is that. I opted for the "Bowl" as it allowed me to cram in the most numerous and diverse amount of ingredients into one plastic food container.

The knowledgeable truck staff suggested I order the pulled pork, a suggestion with which I was happy to comply. As you can see from above, the succulent sweet and spicy pork was accompanied by a host of accessories – standout among them was the kimchi (wonderfully tangy and crunchy) and the soy bean sprouts (to my delight I detected a hint of peanut sauce here).

Next up: The Taco Truck. As a Hoboken native, I really should have tried this place before. But I like doing things the hard way. And if the hard way is accompanied by a silky-smooth guacamole with chunks of fresh pineapple, that that is the way for me! This green and yellow dollop sat atop balls of tender pork and was all wrapped up in soft, chewy double-bagged corn tortillas.

I had to give Eddie's Pizza a try as well. Advertised as the "bar pie" this pizza is the thinnest crust I have yet to find this side of the Atlantic. Despite being thin, the crust does retain both flavor and flexibility. It's not dry or flaky, but maintains a nice bendable quality. You could fold this pizza up and put it in your pocket.

Finally, I was back at the Coolhaus truck. I caved. I needed to try another flavor, and this time I fell for the Butterscotch with Rosemary. Don't be alarmed – the rosemary is not overwhelming in this just-so-slightly-sweet butterscotch cream. It's just a hint, to offset the richness and give the package a bit of POP. I paired it with two soft chocolate chocoloate chip cookies. And yeah, I ate the whooooole thing.

Oh, and did I mention they have beer at The Lot? It's called The Lot on Tap and they serve a number of local brews, including Brooklyn Lager.

Here's the scenario: It's summer. Which means you need to enjoy as many outdoor activities as possible before the cruel beast I call winter slaps you with his frosty paws. So take your little free-spirited summer self to the The Lot at the Highline for Korean BBQ, intense ice creamery, expertly crafted tacos, pizza, and BEEEEER! And then another beer. Because you can.

Friday
Jul082011

Brooklyn Day โ€“ Part The Third โ€“ The Brooklyn Farmacy

What is it you need after donuts? Ice cream sodas. Duh – where are your brains at?

I brought all my remaining brain cells (which some of you will argue are dwindling down to single digits) straight to the Brooklyn Farmacy for just this purpose. I wanted to be served ice cream and soda by real old-timey JERKS. Soda jerks, you know?

If you didn't know, Brooklyn Farmacy is just that step-back-in-time kind of dessert and soda fountain shop, complete with snaking counter top, apothecary bottles, vintage gizmos, and official jerk hats!

I was also attracted by their sincere window advertising:

instead of an egg cream, I opted for the Strawberry Ice Cream Soda with Strawberry Ice Cream. A double berry dose.

Their sparkling sodas are made with natural syrups by P&H Soda & Syrup and their ice cream is from Adirondack Creamery.

This combination translates into a marvelously good ice cream soda. My favorite part of an ice cream soda is the chemistry: that foam that forms when the cream meets the carbonation, created a frothy fizzle of tastiness. And then there's the creamy, cool drinkability of the melted ice cream as it melts into the soda....I never know whether to use my spoon or my straw, so I end up using both. At the same time. Which results in an unnaturally short shelf life (in this case counter-top life).

Life span of this particular ice cream soda: less than 3 minutes.

Can't you just hear the straw noises?

And you can rest assured that Brooklyn Farmacy carries their retro decor right into the bathroom.

With tin ceilings, exposed brick walls and a stamp-dispensing machine, you can post mark your mail from the Baby Boomer's bathroom.

Or if mail is too much trouble, you can leave a message for the next passer-by in chalk outside the Farmacy walls. I felt it was necessary to sketch an homage to my ice cream soda.

So the next time you are wandering through the streets of Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn, step up to the counter and have some real Jerks serve you the best ice cream sodas in town.

Brooklyn Farmacy
513 Henry Street, Carroll Gardens, Brooklyn

Now let's take a moment to regroup and recap. This is what I brought home with me from my day's adventures:

Part The First: I travel to Williamsburg for perfectly poached eggs, tiny pepperoni, polish pastry, and the world's best coffee (no joke).

Part The Second: All aboard the G Train – first stop: donuts. Have a dulche de leche at Dough. This donut will make you dance, it will make you sing, it will make you want to eat another. There is nothing this donut can't do. Except your taxes...

Part The Third: The biggest jerks in town! Visit the Brooklyn Farmacy for old-timey ice cream soda deliciousness. Completely with authentic soda jerks (not the other kind of regular run-of-the-mill jerk).