Let me share a little adventure with you. A few weeks ago I read in my bible (aka Time Out New York) about a new "retail and dining destination" in Hells Kitchen called Gotham West Market. There seems to be this new trend in NYC to create these new food halls, where several hip and indie eateries combine into one spot to create a "destination." Call it the Smorgasburg effect - the success of that one particular food-flea market has created a new trend of - as the NY Times calls it - upscale food courts.
To get to the point: No, there is not an ice creamery there. (There should be). I found myself in the Gotham West Market having the most delicious breakfast sandwich from the Court Street Grocers, accompanied by an iced coffee from Blue Bottle, while my student tour group instagrammed themselves numb at the Times Square Madame Tussaud's.
One of the "purveyors" - as GWM likes to call them - is the Brooklyn Kitchen, a specialty grocery shop and cooking school. I poked around and spotted a freezer featuring:
A whole freezer of my favorite artisanal ice creams. Phin & Phebe's. Steve's. Van Leeuwen. And what the heck is this Jeni's that I'm seeing everywhere?! And why do they have SUCH delicious-sounding flavors? Brambleberry Crisp? Moonshine and Corn Syrup Custard with Pecans? Wildberry Lavendar? And HOW does one choose?! My theory was: if I liked all the ice creams that it was sharing freezer space with, this ice cream must be equally worthy. And equally Brooklyn. I mean.......I was standing in the Brooklyn Kitchen, after all, right?
Turns out, Jeni's ice cream, officially called Jeni's Splendid, is made in Colombus Ohio. What the heck was it doing at the Brooklyn Kitchen? I asked the manager Michael what the scoop was (ha!). Yes, it's small-batch. Yes, it's handmade. Yes, it uses locally sourced incredients. All of the standard qualifications were there, save location. But THEN he said the magic words - "It's simply the best ice cream I've tasted anywhere. Ever."
I was hooked. I threw down $14.14 for a pint (WHAT!) and took it home with high expectantations.
GUYS. A moment of silence.
This is the best ice cream I have tasted, EVER. And it came in a pint.
The vanilla base is quite simply the most mouth-watering vanilla (vanilla!) that I've ever had. Rich, creamy, full of flavor that tastes like REAL vanilla bean. There were ACTUAL berries (black currants, blackberries) and ACTUAL oats from an incorporated oat crisp (ingredient list: all-purpose flour, rolled oats, butter, light brown cane sugar, cane sugar, sea salt, cinnamon). I polished it off in two days flat. I now want to try every single one of their flavors (20 total) just to have my mind blown about what ice cream can be, and what it can taste like.
Jeni Britton Bauer created Jeni's Splendid in 2002, after opening Scream Ice Cream in 1996, in Colombus' North Market. The small-but-mighty company prides themselves on making ice cream from "the ground up," starting with "grass-grazed milk, local produce, American bean-to-bar chocolate and select ingredients from around the world, including exquisite Fair-Trade-Certified African vanilla and Dutch cocoa." Her ice cream has been recognized by Food & Wine Magazine, the James Beard award, and they are a Certified B Corporation endorsed by the international nonprofit B Lab as a company that meets rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. A quick stroll through her website shows how heavily they are involved in their community and sustainability, from composting their kitchen scraps and recycling old pints as planters, to using only fair-trade vanilla from Uganda.
In fact, there is nothing un-awesome about this ice cream, and this ice cream company. I have a serious crush. I wish they were born of NYC, but I guess we can't have everything. Still, it's sold in nearly 60 shops in NYC, including Dean & Deluca, Whole Foods, and Brooklyn Fare, so it just seems I'm clearly late to the party. There are six scoop shops but none near us, so in the meantime I guess I'll be visiting the frozen section more often. YOU HAVE NO EXCUSE - get yourself this ice cream this week.
And then tell me which flavor you got. :)