Friday, July 30, 2010

Professional Foray #4, Blue Marble, Brooklyn, NY

Wednesday night, after an excellent meal at The Grocery on Smith Street with my genius friend/professional hero Michelle Goldberg, we hopped on our bikes and headed down Atlantic Avenue to the Blue Marble Ice Cream shop.  This location has more flavors than the one on Court Street.  We almost missed our chance, since the kindly chef at The Grocery, who spends so much time in the dining room you'd think he wishes he was a waiter, informed us that he makes the best ice cream in the world, after which our check was suspiciously slow in coming.  

Anyway, we made it.  I had read about their strawberry flavor on Yelp or a similar site, where someone was raving that it was the greatest they'd ever tasted.  It does have a very pronounced, tart strawberry flavor, but to my kiddie palate, it was slightly too tangy.  I can appreciate the appeal it would hold for more sophisticated ice cream connoisseurs, or for purists.  But I like an emphasis on the cream in my ice cream, and this tasted too fruity to me.  I also tried root beer flavor, which tasted like a root beer float, except without the wonderful textural interplay of fizzy soda and creamy vanilla ice cream.  Instead, those two sensations and flavors get mushed into one single not-as-delicious and even mildly disconcerting experience.

In the end, I went for (surprise) cookies and cream, chocolate and black cherry.  From here forward, I'm going to use cookies and cream, pending availability, as my benchmark flavor, as well as chocolate, the same way one can judge a Lebanese restaurant by its hummus and kibbeh.  Why?  Both of those flavors leave very little margin for error: either do them well, or go home. 

Soft serve in Rwanda; courtesy of Blue Marble Ice Cream
In Blue Marble's case, they were both tasty, but nothing exciting.  The ice cream itself is of a very high quality; they use milk and cream from an organic dairy co-operative in Pennsylvania where the cows eat grass (as opposed to all the other wretched scum they normally eat in a feedlot, according to Michael Pollan).  But neither of those flavors knocked me off my feet.  The black cherry with chocolate chips was very good, however - an upscale, organic and altogether smoother and more successful rendition of Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia.  I'll be going back for a few other flavors (ginger and mint chip, for example) soon.

This company is notable, if not for its chocolate ice cream, for its social efforts.  They are promoting ice cream as a development solution in Rwanda, use eco-friendly materials and packaging, use organic sugar and serve organic coffee, and support local Brooklyn bakeries by selling bagels and brownies and the like in their shop.  I know it's a cliche to call such a yuppie paradise a "yuppie paradise," but it really is one, without being obnoxious.  It's just a nice place where concerned parents can treat their children and themselves to ice cream without worrying about pesticides and poisons and corn syrups and other demons.

Blue Marble Ice Cream, 420 Atlantic Avenue, 718-858-1100, 186 Underhill Avenue (Prospect Heights), new location at 196 Court Street (Cobble Hill),, MiniScoops are $2.90, $4.25 and $5.15, regular scoops are $3.89, $5.75, and $6.95.


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