ice cream sandwich

I want a sandwich worth the wait

To be honest with you, I've never been much of a fan of the ice cream sandwich.  I guess it goes back to those mushy chocolate cookie-and-vanilla ice cream ones that used to get passed out at school and summer camp.  I really had no idea why people found them tasty. I used to peel off the mushy "cookie" part and eat the ice cream by itself. But ice cream sandwiches are coming back, in a new way.  At the start of each ice cream season I seem to find myself at Smorgasburg in Williamsburg, where Good Batch has been a staple since 2010.  Every time I've gone they're thisclose to selling out and I rarely even get a choice of which flavor to get, which, to tell you the truth, is part of the fun.  Last year I ended up with their Laughter & Lemon, which was made up of their Brown Butter Salty cookie, Lemon Divinity (a lemon curd), & Vanilla Ice Cream, which I adored.

This year I hit them up twice (egads!) - once at the requisite Smorgasburg in early May:

(look at that line!!), where I got the Coffee Caramel - Brown Butter Salty Cookie with caramel crushed espresso beans, and coffee ice cream.  It was delish!  But on this trip I also found out that they had recently opened an actual brick and mortar store in Brooklyn!!  How exciting!!  So I held off writing until I could visit.

The new shop, opened in Clinton Hill in September 2014, is officially now where all the baking is done, and also doubles as a café for baked goods and coffee during n0n-ice cream season.  I was VERY EXCITED to see where all the fun went down, but... kinda let down by the experience itself.  The shop stands in a rather awkward stretch on Fulton Street, just beyond the cute Brooklyn-ness of hovering Fort Greene.  Its signage is not great, and I passed it twice before realizing it.  It didn't help that there wasn't much sidewalk traffic and certainly no tell-tale line outside, despite it being after 6pm.  Inside was rather awkwardly quite and desolate as well.  A young shy server had an "I don't know, I just work here" shyness to him when I hit him up with my usual questions.  I would have adored to meet the founders Anna and Steve themselves, the way I just last week got to meet the owner of Victory Gardens.

Summer Strawberry
Summer Strawberry

There were only 3 flavors to choose from (what a ripoff!  Even the booth at BK Flea had 4!) - and moreover I was told that these were the exact same offerings being made this weekend at Smorgasburg, how lame.  I went with the most unusual, the Summer Strawberry:  Coconut Macaroon Cookie, Strawberry Curd, Vanilla Ice Cream.

You guys.  I was not a fan!  And that horrified me.  I am such a big supporter of the Good Batch, but this combo was the pits.  The macaroon cookie was too dense, the strawberry barely discernible, and the vanilla was clearly there just to balance the other two.  I also was just a little more than let down by the store experience in general.  I almost preferred waiting in that Smorgasburg line for the grab-it-while-it-lasts game of choosing a flavor.  Feeling as if I got something extra desirable when I nabbed one of the last five sandwiches for the day was part of the experience.

I'm gonna continue to go, but I think I'll skip the shop next year and just get it from the Flea like I've done the past three years.  After all, why mess with what works?

Sandwich is the new cone

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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.

pedestrian-mall-sign
pedestrian-mall-sign

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.

It.

Was.

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.