Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lick It and Love It, by Celest

celest-ice-cream“Will you ladies be having any dessert tonight?” the waiter asked optimistically.

“Oh, no thank you…I’m just so full…not really into sweets,” the group of young women lied in unison, believing that the secret to saying “no” to dessert comes from clinging to the group’s collective, joyless willpower.

Of course, I’d watched them each consume about 1000 calories worth of appletinis before eschewing the homemade breadbasket for fear of carbs.

I always want dessert. And frankly, I don’t give a fuck.

So as I walked home, having said goodnight to the group of ‘Young Women in the Arts,’ after a networking meal at Paris Commune, I couldn’t help but peer into the various ice cream parlors and gelato shops along my route back to the East Village. Actually, who am I kidding? In the summer, I always PLAN my route home so it happens to pass by my favorite gelato joints. New York Magazine recently published my course (how’d they get into my head?!), but failed to mention that you can get some of the best gelato to-go, Mario’s, by taking out from Otto. Happens to be perfect, since 8th St. takes me right home, through Astor Place.

It’s an expensive habit, but I have a special relationship with his olive oil gelato, sprinkled with sea salt and drizzled with gleaming beads of the greenish oil…

L’Arte del Gelato isn’t too shabby either …nor is Il Labratorio del Gelato in the LES, nor Momofuku’s housemade soft-serve, named “Uncle Leroy and Arlo’s,” after the chefs’ dogs. It is simply the most dense, creamiest soft serve I’ve ever encountered…perfect spoonfuls of sweet, to chase a bowl of salty, steaming ramen. Flavors change monthly—head over soon if you want a swirl of strawberry and sour yogurt. Last month was peanut butter and Cracker Jack, so you know they like to shake things up.

But over all, Grom is my new obsession. Sorbeto made of lemons from the Amalfi Coast makes my heart sing with memories of Italy. (When we were there together, I scared Kimberly with my hourly desire for a new flavor. She insisted that if the flavor-indicating signs poking out of the gelato weren’t handwritten, then the stuff probably came from a mix. So, I searched for old-fashioned scripted markers in Capri, Sorrento, Napoli…)

Grom’s chocolate is lust in a cup. Or licked off a cone. And their signature Crema di Grom never disappoints for its simple flavor and unbeatable creamy meltiness.

Awhile back, the Times pointed out some of the city’s best ice cream spots and delved into the question of what makes one frozen concoction taste and feel better on the tongue than another. The debate lies somewhere in the incorporation of eggs or no eggs and high butterfat content vs. the lesser with more whipped air. But, it really all depends on how dense you like your ice cream. Momofuku’s, out of a machine, is pretty damn tasty and couldn’t be more different from the homemade, icey, peach chunk-filled stuff I had from a roadside stand while in Texas, which was equally delicious.

You could say I like my ice cream. Or you could call it a love affair. But I want my indulgences, whether bi-weekly dessert at Grom or monthly facials at Jurlique, pure and natural. And gelato can be healthy if it’s made of only the freshest, most natural ingredients.

Along these lines, another Times article debunked the myth that our West Coast rival (and oft-misguided health food snob sister),L.A., was exporting something magical in setting up Pinkberrys all over Manhattan. “The All-Natural Taste That Wasn’t,” didn’t shock me when it pointed out that this new frozen “fluff” is “all but natural.” Along with all the other fake components of L.A. (i.e. boobs, attitudes, acting credits) –Pinkberry has apparently been caught deceiving the public with the idea that their product is “natural.” C’mon people! I know the lines make it look like something worth desiring, but it’s ingredients include: sucrose, fructose and dextrose – all lab-produced products of corn syrup – yuck. Natural? I think not.

Now, you should eat what you want. But, for me the question is simple. I’d rather have the real deal then skim the bottom of the American consumer market by eating laboratory created and consumer propelled self-delusional “yogurt.” And what, I wonder, is driving this new craze?! It’s not even a new concept! Didn’t TCBY come and go from our lives already? It’s not just Pinkberrys that keep popping up, there’s tons of spinoffs. Fro-yo shops seem to be reproducing like bunnies. I swear there are 5 fake ice cream peddlers within a three block radius of my house and four of them are brand new! Two competing shops on St. Marks, one a real Pinkberry the other a spinoff a new spot called 16 Handles has set up across the street from the local, 2nd Ave. Tasti-D, and there’s a new place called OKO, one block over, on 1st Ave. How much of this shit can East Villagers possibly digest?

It’s hot outside, people! When you leave the girls after a dinner with no dessert, I suggest you get it scooped or blended, or just lick it off the cone. Do yourself a favor—if it’s the real deal, it’s your daily dose of calcium.

And did you know July is national ice cream month?

I told you, it’s a love affair.

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