Memorial Day weekend means the unofficial start of summer – and the official start of ice cream season. And while we all love the classics – a leaning tower of soft serve by the beach, hot fudge sundaes wherever we can find them – there’s another frozen world out there to explore, where local makers are pushing the envelope with wildly creative, outer-limits flavors and mind-bending combinations of savories, spices and plants.
With more kooky confections than ever before, we set out to find the most intriguing, checking our preconceived notions (and, in a few cases, our gag reflexes) at the door. Some were sublime, some downright insufferable. All provided an entertaining departure from the same-old sweets spectrum. Will you scream for ice cream, or run screaming for the hills? We’ve got the scoop.
Note: Most shops rotate flavors quite frequently – some of these might disappear from the lineup more quickly than others.
THE RATINGS: 4 cones, freaky delicious; 3 cones, just this side of heaven; 2 cones, ehh, worth a taste; 1 cone, get outta here!
88 W. Houston St.; 212-209-7684, MorgensternsNYC.com
Cardamom Lemon Jam
This popular summer-y flavor very fortunately “made the cut” in a recent shakeup of the brand’s menu, a staffer told The Post. Acclaimed sweets wizard Nicholas Morgenstern churns cardamom-infused milk into ice cream. A swirl of sugary lemon preserves yields chewy, candy-like fragments.
Rating 3 cones. A winning mouthfeel supports this refreshing citric treat. The mild spice perfectly tempers the sweet and tart notes.
Olive Oil Chocolate Eggplant
Grove and Vine olive oil and baked eggplant slices – two ingredients we’d happily consume on their own – are improbably blended with dark chocolate.
Rating 1 cone. The egregiously inappropriate eggplant imparted a chalky taste and clunky texture to the otherwise fine chocolate.
Chinatown Ice Cream Factory
65 Bayard St.; 212-608-4170, ChinatownIceCreamFactory.com
Vivid yellow in color, one of the more iconic flavors at this long-running creamery is made from the spiky, famously pungent durian fruit. Served up chunk-free, as smooth and creamy as plain vanilla.
Rating 4 cones. The durian delight is odor-free and shockingly delicious, with an eggy pineapple flavor. Almost good enough to make me want to finally try the whole fruit.
This elegant elixir takes its deep green color from herbaceous tropical pandan leaves.
Rating 2 cones. Although the vegetable-like essence isn’t my cup of tea, it’s different enough to stand out from the tropical-plant pack. The grassy flavor reminded me of New Zealand sauvignon blanc, but without the alcohol.
Sugar Hill Creamery
184 Lenox Ave.; 212-634-9004, other locations, SugarHillCreamery.com
The Harlem dessert mecca’s unusually-named rice pudding ice cream is packed with aromatic plantain segments and mango gelée.
Rating 3 cones. The creamy texture and fruity elements stop short of life-changing, but make for a refreshing, interesting treat on a hot summer day.
Mrs. Robinson’s Neighborhood
What’s quirkier: the name, or this just-introduced flavor? Summer squash ice cream is textured with zucchini breadcrumbs; the whole affair is spiced with pickled ginger.
Rating 1 cone. The acidic pickle burned through the other elements of this misbegotten mashup like a dentist’s drill.
Il Laboratorio del Gelato
188 Ludlow St; other locations, LaboratoriodelGelato.com
“Some spices are added to the avocado to evoke guacamole,” the lab maestros from this acclaimed gelato spot explained over email.
Rating 1 cone. A mad scientist must have formulated this shrill, green menace that would be thrown out of any decent Mexican restaurant. It made me want to chug from the nearest bottle of Listerine.
Available in pints at Whole Foods, AmpleHills.com
Cap’n Crunch, Frosted Flakes and Corn Pops cereals are “infused” into an under-flavored, malty vanilla base, further ruined with Froot Loops and Fruity Pebbles.
Rating 1 cone. This breakfast from hell might amuse a child, despite a gummy texture and barely perceptible flavors. Cereal fragments cling to adult teeth like popcorn kernels. The clue’s in the name.
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