My boyfriend and I were on one of our infamous walks around the city this weekend, hiking from Midtown East to Chinatown and back again, when he got a hankering for a shaved ice. It had started when he saw the watermelon slush at Bubbly Tea mere moments after he’d received his less-desirable honeydew milk tea and was in full swing by the time we were nearing Astor Place.
And there, serendipitously, we found An Icy Introduction: SnoBalls, SnoCreams, & Slushes, a popup stand attached to the Brow-NY clothing store. From now until September 30th, it’ll offer shaved ice saturated with dense unprocessed sugar syrups (and sugar-free ones!) and topped with sauces like marshmallow cream and peanut butter or made into a snocream in the Caribbean style with condensed milk and vanilla.
There are the traditional American syrup flavors like blue raspberry and cherry for the nostalgic, but the more adventurous can try the red velvet cake, egg custard, or cake batter. Then there are the “signature Caribbean flavors” like ginger beer, mauby, peanut punch, and sorrel. You can have each half of your ice flavored differently; $3 for a small 12 oz., $4 for a medium 16 oz., or $5 for a large 20 oz., plus $.50 for toppings.
My boyfriend and I are obsessed with natural ginger sodas like Bruce Cost’s Fresh Ginger Ginger Ale, so I had to try the ginger beer. Mauby was described on the list of flavors as “tree-bark-based, initially sweet, like root beer, an acquired taste”, and the “resident Caribbean Snoball-logist” manning the booth, Kafi Dublin, said that I’d be the first white girl to like it, so of course I took that as a challenge and requested it for my second flavor.
It looked pretty boring to me, especially compared to my boyfriend’s, which was blinding small dogs nearby with its neon colors. But the color of mine was inversely proportional to the flavors, which were like ginger and root beer but boiled down to their most concentrated forms. The ginger was biting, dry, and refreshing in a way that more sugary flavors can’t be. The mauby was distinctly earthy, very much related to root beer and tree bark and black licorice. They were the perfect compliment to each other, and I enjoyed the grown-up-ness of them.
My boyfriend’s pina colada and watermelon flavors were much less exotic but still just as intense. By the bottom of the cup, where the ice was really doused in the syrup, the sugar was catching up with him. To say these were not your “standard watery syrups” is an understatement.
And we’re going to be back every weekend until we try the entire list of them.
An Icy Introduction
345 Lafayette Street
New York, NY 10012 (map)