Allow me a tiny bit of NYC history. I decided to stroll around the LES yesterday. I wanted to see what summer offerings the Hester Street Fair might have, and maybe some new ice cream treats to discover. As it were there was a Melt Bakery cart offering 4 different flavors of ice cream sandwiches. But upon learning that the actual shop was only a few blocks away, I decided to go check it out. And this is what I found.
Now, I find it super interesting and super charming that Orchard Street is closed to traffic on Sundays. During its peak years as a Russian Orthodox neighborhood, Orchard Street became the central commercialized street of the Jewish LES, and was granted an exception to the blue laws that closes stores on Sundays, so the Jews could have a day to shop. This made Orchard Street synonymous with shopping and bargains throughout the city. Now the former bread & butter shops house hipper establishments, but its being singled out as a shopping district is an awesome nod to its past. Except...
.... yeah, it was kinda lame. Squeezed in between Josef's Sportswear and Modern Fashion and Style is a tiny shop you might miss if you weren't looking for it. But OH! Inside:
I ended up speaking with the Operations Manager, who was a sweetie and patiently answered all my weird questions about their shop. In a nutshell:
Julian Plyter (a pastry chef) and Kareem Hamady (a finance guy) created Melt Bakery in 2010 with the intention of creating a dessert-only company, but found that to be too vast. They whittled it down to ice cream and then took it a step further to ice cream sandwiches simply because "no one else was doing it." They wanted a sustainable ice cream sandwich company focused on locally sourced ingredients with seasonal flavor combinations (yay!). Over the past four years they have grown the business entirely on their own and in June 2012, they opened New York's first ice cream sandwich store at 132 Orchard Street -- just a couple blocks away from the Hester Street Fair where it all started.
I got a Thick Mint - two crackle chocolate cookies with peppermint ice cream in between. It was DELISH. I love this little place, and moreover I love their story. But if they were the first to start the Ice Cream Sandwich craze, they are certainly not the last.
I got this puppy at The Good Batch at Williamsburg Smorgasburg in May (note the sleeves of my coat). (So I cheated on the Ice Creaming a bit, call it market research!) It wasn't exactly ice cream season yet, but they only had THREE left and so my friend Jessica and I made a hasty decision.
Deliciousssssssssssss!!! Friends, meet the Laughter & Lemon: Brown Butter Salty cookie, lemon divinity, vanilla ice cream. Does that sound like heaven to you? And you know what made it so extra special, don't you? The sour-sweet-salty combo happening allatthesametime!! This one blew my socks off. And based upon the fact that every time I do see their booth (they do not yet have a brick-and-mortar store) they are almost always A HUNDRED PERCENT SOLD OUT....well kids. Isn't that enough for you?? And if it ain't, flavors like Brown Butter Coffee Caramel (Brown Butter Salty cookie, crushed Counter Culture espresso beans, caramel cream, coffee ice cream) and Caramel Old Fashion (Brown Butter Salty cookie, bourbon caramel, marmalade, vanilla ice cream) should make you as excited as I am to go back. And back and back and back.
So it's a draw - While I give major points to Melt for being the first on the scene (and an unwelcoming scene at that) and for historical connection, I think Good Batch still wins for me in the Oh-My-God category. Still, it's a good time to be a 'Wich.