Although winter is now officially over, it still counts as far as ice cream goes. In January, when my husband was eating an overfilled cone, no fewer than three people stopped to ask him where he had found it. This post is an attempt to help those dedicated souls who are seeking this creamy treat in the chilly season. Let me outline the rules I will follow: first, these places are all in Manhattan and all on the West Side. Second, I will deal only with the real thing-frozen yoghurt, soft serve, sherbet and ices have their place, but I am limiting myself to the hard core-the full fat-the true ice cream.
Many years ago, when I was a refugee from the west coast, I heard that Baskin Robbins was finally coming to New York. We mounted an intrepid band of ice cream eaters and motored up to Bronxville to find it. Yes, the 31 flavors were all there including our beloved Rocky Road, its most famous flavor since 1945. B&R has retained its high quality and mostly good flavors (does anyone really want bubblegum?) and deserves to be recognized for its pioneering spirit. Go to the web to find a location near you. Westsiders, please note 606 Tenth Avenue and 1342 Amsterdam.
Coldstone Creamery at 162 West 72nd Street has an illustrious history as the originator of stuff-mixed-in-ice-cream-on-the-spot. Oreo cookies, M&Ms, nuts and candy canes are mashed into your ice cream by a muscular server. Frankly, I’m in this mostly for the mix-ins—-the ice cream is merely a delivery system and is OK for those who like quantity over quality.
Haagen Dazs is now represented on the West Side mostly by pints in Duane Reade stores (not bad if you’re in need) but the fresh stuff can still be found on the Upper West Side at 2905 Broadway @ 113 St. I might almost have to compare their hot fudge with the legendary Will Wright’s. Growing up in Los Angeles, we would go to Will Wright’s and order one scoop of the chocolate burnt almond ice cream (whole toasted almonds in it and on top) with fresh whipped cream and the best hot fudge in the world. You couldn’t eat a second scoop. When Will retired, he did not sell his shops-he closed them down. No one who knew them has ceased to mourn for them. But Haagen Dazs has a pretty good substitute. I think HD’s natural flavorings are the best and it has the distinction of an extra high fat content. Yum.
And now, Emack and Bolio’s. This little store on Amsterdam just below 79th Street does a rollicking business even in winter from its tiny storefront. We had a great banana ice cream reminiscent of Howard Johnson’s very fine version-maybe better-we have to do more research to make up our minds.
Ben and Jerry’s, at Broadway and 104th Street, for 35 years has stood for IC with a conscience. Family farms, solar energy, global warming, oil-drilling in ANWAR, Fair Traded coffee and vanilla, a children’s playground in Gabon and of course, humane farming-they never stop. Although B & J sold in 2010, the company is still progressive. What’s more, their product is still great. Named for favorite celebrities or issues, Cherry Garcia, Cow Power, Chunky Monkey and Hubby Hubby are full of very large chocolate chunks, nuts, fruits and marshmallows. Some purists might say-too much-I say, bring it on.