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Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Introduction II: Gelato (flashback) In the City

Blogger's note: The following is based on something that happened over a year ago. The result? A lack of details and photos from the various gelato/ice cream establishments. Still, I hope it gives a general overview of the best gelato in Manhattan.

HOT HUMIDITY WRAPPED ITS SWEATY ARMS AROUND ALL OF MANHATTAN. Skyscrapers glistened under blue skies. Perfect, in other words, for ice cream. We were on the Upper West Side. Someone, or some Google search, sent us to a place with a slightly funny name. We quickly forgot the name, but remembered the approximate location. Which left us standing on a street corner, looking around in confusion.

That's when the stranger approached. Now, keep in mind, this is New York City, where strangers are supposed to mug confused looking yokels like ourselves. Or scream at them. Or throw them under the wheels of speeding taxis. Not this stranger.

"Can I help you find something," she asked Wendy. Such kindness seemed odd. It seemed especially odd coming from a major television/movie star. Yet there it was, Cynthia Nixon, a.k.a. Miranda from Sex in the City, offering Wendy directions on a busy street corner in Manhattan.

"We're looking for an ice cream place," Wendy replied.

"Oh, there's a great one down the street, Emack & Bolios," Nixon said.

"It's great to see you here," Wendy said.

Then Nixon winked at her. Then we went to get ice cream.

The Emack & Bolios experience turned out to be anticlimactic. It was ice cream, and it was good ice cream. It was not outrageously good ice cream. Nor was it Cynthia Nixon giving us directions ice cream. Give them credit for giving the world an alternative to Baskin Robbins three decades ago.

If you're in Manhattan and you want the real good stuff, check out the laboratory of ice cream, more formally known as il laboratorio del gelato. This mad food scientist's hideaway is down in Lower East Side, and isn't much to look at. But hotdamn that's some innovative, tasty stuff. Flavors range from toasted sesame, to orange bitters, to Guinness and Kahlua, to lime basil, to tarragon with pink pepper. They have ginger; no gin, as far as I can tell. Still.

Or, if you want something a bit more trendy, there's always GROM. When we went, there was a line out the door. It's always like that in summer, I'm told. It was a long time ago, and I can't even remember what flavors I got. But I remember this: It was excellent. I also remember this: I was a bit torn regarding the basic premise. See, GROM is based in Italy, and even has its own organic farm there for growing ingredients. Very nice. Problem is, they also make the mixes for the gelato way over in Italy, then ship them to New York before creaming them. Huh?? That seems a bit strange.

So, if I had to choose, I'd hit the lab.

Later, after we told Steve about the Cynthia Nixon encounter, he insisted that the actress was not just offering directions, but cruising Wendy. Wendy, not knowing this, was crestfallen at the lost opportunity.

Oh well, the gelato, later on, was pretty damned good.

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