This week has been marked by the kind of weather that says one thing quite strongly: Ice cream. In Brooklyn, on one end of the frozen sweet cream spectrum, there is Ample Hills (ingredient-heavy and rich) and on the other, Van Leeuwen (classic, minimal). But now, there is a new ice cream player in town, and it’s weird: hand-rolled ice cream that comes in tube form.
Yet, once you move beyond the spectacle (which, come to think of it, you shouldn’t, because that is largely the point), and start eating it, you’ll realize what you’ve got is exactly the same cold treat you’ve always known and loved, only delivered as sculpture. Meantime, as you watch it being formed, you’ve been entertained—or transfixed, or confused, as the case may be.
Let me explain. Thai-born and rapidly-spreading phenomenon “hand-rolled ice cream” has finally arrived in Brooklyn. What? You ask. How does one roll with one’s hands, ice cream? Great question: one doesn’t. Well, one doesn’t exactly. But one does hold with one’s hand a scraper, which does roll ice cream into variously flavored icy tubes. Last year, hand rolled ice cream landed in Manhattan. People lost all sense of time and reason and waited in line for over three hours to consume it at places like 10Below Ice Cream, Juicy Spot Café, and I-Ce-NY, where I first discovered it wide-eyed, bewildered, and hungry one day late this spring.
And now, Cobble Hill has Blossom, which opened a few weeks ago. When the weather beckoned, we went to eat what they made, to find out how their frozen pirouettes stacked up to the competition; if it, too, was just normal ice cream in a different shape.
Inside Blossom, nine four year olds and their two caretakers all craned their necks to get a glimpse of the loud show in front of them—and I do mean loud. Simultaneously, four scrapers at two stations wildly chopped graham crackers, blueberries, bananas, and chocolate, directly into a pool of sweet liquid cream, spread wide and thin on a frozen surface. It sounded like a stampede of angry knives. As tiny bits became ever smaller and then were spread evenly throughout the smoothie-like mixture, it froze, which is to say, it became ice cream. Strip by strip, it was then rolled into tidy tubes. Never had I heard a four year old say with such conviction, when he watched it all happen, “this is awesome.”
I’m almost 33, so I did not order the “Chocolicious” that blew away my small friend. I ordered the Virgin Mojito, debuted just the day before: fresh mint, fresh lime, and for good measure, crunchy graham cracker. Six tubes of it for $6.50. Voilà, hand-rolled ice cream in a bowl.
Outside, using a small wooden spoon, I started destroying that which had been so laboriously sculpted. Making my way around a whole berry-flavored Kit-Kat, classic Pirouettes, a sprig of mint, and miniature mint chocolate chips, I took bites of this art. It was sweet, it was tangy, it was cold; it was normal ice cream.
So, Brooklyn, now you, like all of Southeast Asia and Manhattan, can experience the joy of hand-rolled frozen cream. The manager at Blossom told us they’re looking to open a second shop in Park Slope, so this weird yet classic treat will only become more and more accessible to the masses, and your Instagram feed, slowly, will become many flavors of frozen tubes.
Blossom Ice Cream; 196 Court St., Cobble Hill
Images by Jane Bruce