There are lots of reasons to get depressed about the end of summer, like all of the ice cream carts disappear from the streets til next spring. Thank god for the freezer aisle. Even when the Van Leeuwen truck goes into hibernation, you’ll be able to find their ginger, red currant and pepper mint & chip ice cream in the supermarket. These days, it seems like everyone has upped their game with some terrific and imaginative flavors, which also happen to be a lot less expensive than going out for a scoop of ice cream. Sometimes, it’s nice to eat a bowl of ice cream at home in your pajamas, especially when you’re craving ice cream in the middle of the night. Forget the usual suspects like vanilla and Chunky Monkey, there’s everything from champagne sorbet to coconut crunch.
Available at Most Whole Foods Markets
If you’ve never tried goat’s milk ice cream, Laloo’s is a great crash course. Goat’s milk is terrifically tangy, lower in fat and much easier on the stomach. Laloo’s focuses on traditional flavors like chocolate, vanilla, and mint chip, which allows the mellow tang of goat milk to linger on your palate. Our tip: get Laloo’s vanilla snowflake ice cream topped with unsweetened strawberry puree.
You’d think Ciao Bella would’ve run out of steam, but they just keep coming up with new flavors and their old flavors continue to hold their own. My favorites are the Key Lime Graham Cracker gelato, dark chocolate jalapeno gelato and blackberry cabernet sorbet. They’ve also got some great American flavors like maple gingersnap with chewy cookie chunks and malted milk ball with frozen whoppers.
Available at Whole Foods Markets
This 500-year old gelato company makes wonderful classic flavors with a distinctly silky texture. They all come in clear containers with screw-top lids, so it’s hard to miss. My favorite are the Sicilian pistachio, which tastes like a frozen handful of pistachio nuts, and Caramel Cookie crunch made with dulce de leche and chocolate cookies. Talenti’s sorbets are labeled according to their region of origin. Mango comes from Malaysia, Peach champagne from Hill Country and Raspberry from Rome.
The Brooklyn Larder
228 Flatbush Ave., between Bergen St. & 6th Ave.
The Brooklyn Larder is known for its cured meats and specialty cheeses, but the freezer section is a find. Everything comes in pints or single serving cups. I suggest you stick with the classics: The chocolate sorbetto somehow tastes rich and yet refreshing, and atypically smooth, not icy as sorbets can often be. I suggest pairing the chocolate sorbetto with the fior di latte gelato, which is mild and milky, but exceptionally creamy.
Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream
at The Forager’s Market
56 Adams St., at Front St.
I visit DUMBO’S Forager Market in hopes of fining Jeni’s Splendid ice cream in the freezer aisle. It’s made in Columbus, Ohio, but we’re lucky enough to get the signature flavors at this Brooklyn market. The salty caramel is definitely the most popular flavor, but I’m more partial to the goat cheese and roasted red cherries. This eggless ice cream tastes exactly like chevre cheesecake with fresh cherries.
Available at Whole Foods Market, Zabar’s, Fairway Market, Garden of Eden, Murray’s Cheese
What makes this all-natural creamery so unique is that they make their ice cream in a dairy only 150 miles away from the city. Adirondack ice cream contains no hormones, no corn syrup or whey protein, all popular ingredients found in most commercial ice creams. They also use old school recipes to make flavors like chocolate chocolate chip, vanilla, chocolate, and coffee beans. They also have creative flavors like Barkeater (vanilla with homemade English almond toffee) and Whiteface Mint Chip and an exotic Kulfi Pistachio-Cardamom, a mixture of sweetened condensed milk, pistachios and cardamom.
Haagen Dazs is one of those rare brands that you can find everywhere and actually tastes excellent. What distinguishes Haagen Dazs is how much texture they create with such a sort list of ingredients: milk, sugar, egg yolks, cream, and flavoring. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Hawaiian lehua honey & cream or pomegranate chip, but the Vanilla Swiss Almond is a fixture in my fridge.
410 6th Ave., between 8th & 9th Sts.
Most vegan ice creams often taste icy or don’t taste like ice cream at all. Purely Decadent is the exception. This company uses coconut milk as the base in many of their flavors and the result tastes like the real thing. Cookie Dough is my favorite – a chocolate chip-spackled dough that’s gluten free.
Met Food 7610 37th Ave.
Jackson Heights, Queens
If you don’t live in Queens, chances are you haven’t stumbled upon this ice cream in your freezer aisle. But the Latin flavors are worth making a trip for. There’s arroz con leche, tres leches cake, coco and mango. The tres leches is outstandingly creamy — a little like “cake batter” ice cream smothered in sweetened condensed milk. Nestle Delicias also makes paletas, or pops, in flavors like a sweet and sour Tamarindo.
132 Spring St., between Greene & Wooster Sts.
Vosges Haut Chocolat has built a reputation on exotic chocolates and unusual caramels. But they’re great at haute ice cream too. I love the Chocolate Pandan – a deep chocolate ice cream with the strong flavor of the Southeast Asian pandan leaf. (It goes great with some bananas sautéed in butter and sugar.) Other “Haut Glaces” include Naga, made with sweet Indian curry mixed and coconut and Red Fire, a chocolate ice cream with chiles and cinnamon.