I went on an adventure to Williamsburg this week. I really still do consider going to Brooklyn an adventure. I’m getting much more familiar with certain areas, but it also feels a little bit like another planet when I’m walking around there. I’m convinced that everyone who passes me by can see this invisible sign across my forehead that says “I’m from Manhattan.”
Yea, so I went to Williamsburg because I wanted to try out an ice cream place that I had heard about. It’s called -321º Ice Cream Shop. To my knowledge, this is the only ice cream shop in NYC that makes ice cream using liquid nitrogen directly in front of the customer. I’ve heard about this concept before and knew some ice cream shops on the west coast had opened featuring this kind of experience, so when I found out about -321º Ice Cream Shop, I had to go asap!
When I walked into -321º Ice Cream Shop the first think I noticed was the long counter with these giant colorful mixers. The mixers looked similar to those you’d find in a bakery, except were also long and tall and pointy and if you told me they were seized from an alien aircraft, I wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised. There’s an electronic menu board with the basic and featured flavors offered, which I was told change pretty frequently. Other than a couple of tables and a counter by the window, the space is pretty bare, in a good way. The lighting is very bright and you can see how clean the whole store is kept, which for me is always important, being an anxious contamination lunatic.
I ordered the cookies and cream ice cream (no big surprise there, given my need to consumer a bag of Oreos daily) and watched the magic. The cream was poured into the bowl of the alien mixer and smoke (not actual smoke) started to rise. The liquid nitrogen is so cold that after only a few spins, the cream began to harden. Next, a bunch of crushed Oreo pieces were added to the mixing bowl and the machine was turned on again. This time, there was a whole lot of smoke coming from all over the mixer. A few more spins around and the ice cream was done! The mixing bowl was moved into a shallow sink pre-filled with water, I imagine in order to loosen up the ice cream from being frozen to the sides of the bowl. My ice cream was then scooped out into a cup and got the final touches, a.k.a toppings.
There is a good chance I said, “whoa cool” an unacceptable number of times during the entire process. But, I imagine most people who have never seen this done before have a similar reaction. Finally, it was the moment of truth. Time to taste the ice cream. Delicious! The texture was slightly thicker and creamier than a basic scoop of ice cream, which kept the ice cream from melting for a longer period of time. The flavor was great. It tasted just like cookies and cream should. The ratio of cream to Oreo was perfect in that you got some Oreo pieces in each bite, but only some special spoonfuls got the large chunks. That’s exactly how I like it!
I really had a great experience at -321º Ice Cream Shop. When I walked in, I was the only customer there and when I was leaving, there were nine other people. This leads me to believe that word is getting out and we will soon have a new “cult ice cream following” on our hands. My only criticism is that I have to schlep to Brooklyn to get this awesome ice cream. And because I liked it so much, I won’t be able to avoid the trip. I’m actually going to have to go back there!