Do you have a sweet tooth? Do you crave certain foods once they are placed in front of you? Does the sight of numerous people anticipating entry entice you to join in?
Well if you answered yes to any of these questions then boy do I have a place for you! I only recently discovered it myself this year but it is the perfect combination of what I love: food, Brooklyn, history, and current culture.
My daily exploration through the New York Times, Time Out NY, and Huffington Post never fails to bring something new to my attention be it a serious world issue or a place that I should grab a bite to eat from. Both are important just in different ways. But when it comes to me I need to know everything! Oh and by the way, most of the time I do.
Since we are in the middle of summer there is no better time to talk about a cool treat we all love in one form or another, and that is ice cream. Ice cream is one of the rare foods you can appreciate from any age. It is a simple yet satisfying treat. But the best part is that you can make it as crazy as you want.
I don’t need much to be impressed but I enjoy when there is a flavor choice that is new and creative. I like when I am surprised by the choices or how some seeming so plain are outstanding.
Judging from the line outside of the shop, which would eventually lead down the block, Ample Hills Creamery had all of this and more.
As of 2015 Ample Hills Creamery have three locations in Brooklyn. Its name reflects the hills and cattle that use to graze this land. You would have a hard time picturing it nowadays but these were farmlands once upon a time. Everything is homemade from scratch and this store is considered an official dairy plant because they are making the ingredients that go into the ice cream. They sell their ice cream by the pint in case you need to have your own collection.
Ample Hills Creamery opened their very first store (the location I visited on Vanderbilt Avenue) in 2011 and then something odd happened- they closed down four days later!!
I learned this as the line I was on finally was approaching the counter. I was so preoccupied by all of the flavor and combo choices I almost missed what was right in front of my face. It was on their wall of fame, there were awards and articles about the creamery. Then the title of one in particular grabbed my attention. I did a double take and almost couldn’t understand what I was reading. It was discussing the details of Ample Hills Creamery’s opening and closing. I know you are saying closing? How did it close back then yet I was able to visit it so recently? Good question.
The answer is that because it was SO popular when it opened they ran out of ice cream and had to close down until more could be made and delivered. You got that? It was like the whole store had the flu. They went through ONE HUNDRED AND THIRTY gallons of ice cream in FOUR days. I was so excited to go and I was unaware just how much this place was adored in its own neighborhood. That is some welcome party.
Now on a warm Saturday afternoon it was my turn. I had absolutely no idea what I was getting and I was panicking because even though I was on a long line it was moving pretty quickly and I knew I would be up soon. Making matters worse they were letting everyone taste flavors before they ordered. This was creating mayhem. I went balls to the walls and ordered the first two flavors that came out of my mouth. I really wanted the pretzel waffle cone but not the mess it would bring. I kept it basic and got mine to go in medium cups. Turns out the small one would have been more than enough.
I promptly ordered my two ice cream cups and headed out merrily along my way; I got into the car and couldn’t wait to taste them. I ordered the Milk and Cookies, which I had been hearing all about, and then a “regular” flavor- Butter Pecan. I wanted to try two things that were different so I could get a fair comparison. I was bummed they didn’t have the Munchies flavor (pretzel ice cream with Ritz crackers, chips, and M&Ms. Besides the crackers it sounded like the ice cream version of my favorite cookie, the Compost cookie at Milk Bar. That has chocolate and butterscotch chips, potato chips, pretzels, graham crackers, and coffee grounds. Basically anything you could ever need or want in a cookie. Side note: you can’t go wrong with their blueberries and cream cookies either (http://thequeenoff-ckingeverything.blogspot.com/2011/04/for-keys-to-my-new-york-city-part-iii.html).
But back to the ice cream. So there they sat my dessert twins. I went right for the Milk and Cookies. It was like Oreo essence in the best vanilla-ish ice cream you have ever had. It was very rich despite not being overly sweet. Once I sunk my teeth into the Butter Pecan I was overcome with how sweet this was. After a few bites I was over it. I went back to the Milk and Cookies, which was delicious, but I couldn’t finish even half of it. I realized that the cream in the creamery was what I couldn’t get with. It made me too full. The heaviness was certain original but not for me. I would probably go back because I like the whole theme of the place and would be curious to try other flavors. I am sure if practice really makes perfect I will eventually find something that floats my boat. I believe there are also seasonal flavors available which might be interesting. They ship nationwide if you don’t get to visit or don’t want to wait on line.
In May of this year, Huffington Post listed of the best thirty-three ice cream shops in America and the last on the list is our topic; Ample Hills Creamery. I don’t know why they arrived at such an odd and specific number but I trust Arianna’s team knows what they are doing. That was all the confirmation I needed. I went not that long after reading this.
I have not heard of or been to any of the other places mentioned on that Huffington’s Post list but they all do sound delicious. I wish there were a nearby food court with all thirty-three so I could line them up and try them all at once for immediate comparison. That is one of my dreams for all of the foods I love. I mean picture a proper line of pizzas one better than the next. I am drooling all over myself now.
When it comes to ice cream I am practically an expert. I have visited some of the most historic and certainly most popular up and coming brands in my city and while traveling. The only advice I took was from world-renowned chefs I admire or any recommendation by the Frommers. Thus I have had some of the best. Now we drill down to the details.
Among the places that come flooding to my mind right away are (in N.Y.C.): Serendipity, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Big Gay Ice Cream, and Coolhaus.
In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania there was Klavon’s and in Mystic, Connecticut there is Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream.
They each have different specialty items so comparing them to each other can be tricky (for full reviews see my blogs listed below).
Of the ice cream shops I have discussed here, these are how I rate them in order of how much I enjoyed them:
2) Big Gay Ice Cream
4) Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory
6) Mystic Drawbridge Ice Cream
I think my favorite ice cream shop of all time is one I haven’t even mentioned yet. It is located in Philadelphia a place I love to visit and happily isn’t too far away from my home. The thought that I could just hop in the car or on the Amtrak and be there in under two hours is music to my ears. There isn’t much planning to be done and at this point I have done so much there my to-do list is simple and already prepared, naturally.
Unfortunately I am not going to reveal my beloved ice cream palace that I covet until I post my Philadelphia blog later in the week.
Until then I am afraid you will have to focus on getting your fill in Ample Hills.
For More Information:
For My Reviews of Ice Cream Havens I Have Visited and Loved:
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