I started out ice cream season with gelato. I know, I know - you're thinking, No you didn't, you went and got that crazy shake and that ice cream they froze on the spot! Au contraire, mon ami. You see, before it was officially ice cream season, we had a coupla nice days thrown in there. And I was spontaneously in Madison Square Park, and I ducked into Eataly to use the bathrooms (oh come on, like you haven't) and noticed something was suspiciously awry: there was no heinous line of tourists lined up for gelato in their café/ gelateria (which there always is, cause it's one of five things people think of when they think "ITALIAN FOOD"). A few years ago someone had recommended I try their Dolce di Primavera flavor, but since I have refused to stand in that line (but somehow standing in this line or this line is fine??) it's taken me till this year to try it. Unfortunately, that flavor was no longer was being offered, and the girl behind the counter was not having any questions about which was her favorite, so I just got a classic: Menta Bianca & Straciatella (in case you have somehow missed that I really, really like white mint gelato).
And you know, it was fine. (Sorry this picture doesn't do it justice. Or does it do it just fine?) It certainly wasn't the worst gelato I've had in my life, but for all the waiting people do? It wasn't the best, either. I kinda expected more from Eataly - a place known for its imported Italian food - for gosh sakes.
And then I went to Gastronomie 491.
Gastronomie 491 is a little café on the UWS. Opened just 4 years ago, it's a Mediterranean-inspired specialty food market. There's gourmet cheeses, cured meats, and chocolates, which is a little odd at first glance, but there's also a little pastry shop when you first walk in and let's be honest, I've gotten ice cream at stranger places.
The gelato counter is on your left as you enter, and is manned by a singular person, one Josh Brambir, chef and owner of said gelato counter, which, as it turns out, is not actually affiliated with Gastronomie, but sorta using their facility in a mutually wonderful relationship.
Josh was happy and excited to share his gelato with me. He makes it daily on site, using Gastronomie's kitchen, and changes the flavors weekly. He gets his milk from Hudson Valley, and when he is in need of other flavor ingredients, he sources them locally.
I was told by this New York Times article to get something amazing-sounding called Salted Maple, but on hand were only 8 flavors, none of which were salted maple. Slightly disappointed, this is why I started talking to Josh, cause I just didn't want Vanilla or Milk Chocolate. He recommended the Key Lime, and I'm SOO glad he did, cause it was pretty freakin' phenomenal. If you took the best Key Lime pie you ever had in your life and stuck it in the freezer and then let it melt a little bit and put it in a cup? That would be Josh's Key Lime gelato. Perfectly creamy. Epically flavorful. It may have been devoured by the time I crossed the street. It was DIVINE.
You may have noticed I called it "Josh's gelato." Josh shared with me his plans for world domination -- err, I mean, expansion into the NYC market. I promised not to blow up his spot - to not mention the new company before he made public the new company - but suffice it to say that his new gelato company deserves all the independence and big-girl pants it has won, and I totally look forward to visiting him in future seasons!
In the interim, I might just go back every weekend to see what's he concocted, in someone else's kitchen. But I truly hope to show up one day and not see him there at all.