So, despite it being the first weekend of - gak! - Fall, and it being barely 70 degrees, there were no less than 26 people ahead of me in line on a Sunday afternoon (I know, I know, I realize that this IS prime ice cream time, but I couldn't help it). I don't remember where I first heard of Ample Hills Creamery, I only know that every time ice cream was mentioned this summer, Ample Hills was recommended (ps, if you too are wondering WTF about that name -- apparently it comes from a line in Walt Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry," 1856: "I too lived, Brooklyn of ample hills was mine..." -- LOVE THAT!).
Ample Hills is another new comer to the scene; it too started as a truck in nearby Prospect Park and grew into a shop in Summer 2011. Science fiction film and writer Brian Smith claims he "needed a break" (don't we all) and became interested in creating ice cream when he learned that 90-95% of independent ice cream parlors don't pasteurize their own ice cream mix. Ice cream businesses that do self-pasteurize are required to register with the Department of Agriculture; after speaking with someone at the department, Smith learned that no one in New York City was registered, and motivated by intellectual and idealistic reasons, he wanted to see if it was at all possible. The result is, he's the only ice cream shop in NYC that crafts ice cream from scratch. No wonder he has a huge Brooklyn following!
I kept hearing about this mouth-watering flavor called Sunday Brunch: cinnamon infused custard ice cream with pieces of vanilla French toast. I MEAN! But naturally, because it does take them 2 days to make a new batch, and because they do change their flavors daily, when I finally arrived at the counter, I was told it was "on hiatus." Whatever that means. So I chose the second most-buzzed-about flavor: Salted Crack Caramel, listed Best-Of in at least three city publications. Salted caramel ice cream is enriched by milk chocolate-covered Saltines (aka "crack cookies"). Many of said reviews mention the ice cream as "addictive" (hence its middle name); I'm not sure I'd use that word so much as INTENSE. Intense as in, the woman behind the counter told me to try it first before I committed to buying it. Intense as in, for lovers of dark chocolate, strong coffee, garlic, and whiskey only. Does that make sense to you? And listen, I'm three of those four, but I'm telling you I could not finish this cone. I know! Sad.
I think Salted Crack Caramel is a misnomer. It doesn't taste like the goodness of salted caramel to me, it tastes more like burnt caramel, like the top of a creme brulee. Burnt Crack Caramel would be more apt. But "burnt crack" sounds sketchy, esp. for a shop crawling with kids, so maybe Burnt Caramel Crack? Burnt Caramel with Crack Cookies? Whatever. Point is, it wasn't my fave. Still, I'll most likely be going back there. I love the idea behind artisinal homemade ice cream, and I am determined to have french toast in my ice cream.
It's been an incredible Summer everyone! FAREWELL UNTIL NEXT YEAR!!!*
*exceptions possibly made for Pumpkin ice cream