If you’re from Columbus, Ohio, like I am, there are three things you’re proud of: the concrete corn field, The Black Keys, and Jeni’s ice cream. Maybe Marilyn Manson, too. But definitely the other three.
I usually have some shame when it comes to my carb intake, but I was in Ohio last week visiting my family and managed to eat Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams three times. I actually visited four of the locations with different friends but didn’t eat at the Bexley one because I’d literally just come from the Grandview one. This is how pervasive Jeni’s is in Columbus. When I’m there, it feels like I have to fatten myself up for the lonely Jeni’s-less winter that is NYC. Sure, there’s Jeni’s in the freezer at my neighborhood grocery store, Brooklyn Fare, but once you’ve had it fresh from the scoop, no old pint will do.
Luckily, a Jeni’s popup just opened up in NYC’s Gotham West Market yesterday and will be here until September. In Ohio, there are about twenty flavors to choose from, all so distinct and distinctly interesting, with gravels and sauces and all the accoutrements. Here in NYC, there are just seven flavors, but boy, are they doozies. I get Salty Caramel ice cream almost every visit in Ohio, and I’ve been dying to try the Pineapple Upside Down Cake Buttermilk Frozen Yogurt. It doesn’t seem like any of the toppings are available here, though, so you’ll need to head to Ohio to get the complete Jeni’s experience. Still, Gotham West Market is going to be seeing a lot of me this summer.
To whet your appetite, here are two of the Jeni’s sundaes I had while in Ohio last week:
Wildberry Lavender, Salty Caramel, and Brambleberry Crisp ice creams, with Salty Graham gravel and a waffle wedge. Up until this visit, I’d never gotten a gravel. The ice creams are so flavorful that I thought adding anything extra would detract from them, but a friend convinced me that the gravel is as important as the base at Jeni’s. I still think the ice creams are perfect on their own, but I absolutely loved the crunch and the added savoryness of the graham cracker/butter mixture that is the Salty Graham gravel. I usually don’t even like crunch in my ice cream, but I loved the way this crunch broke apart in my mouth and melted.
The same friend, upon hearing that I’d just gotten the gravel, informed me that the cherries at Jeni’s are the best cherries. Another friend informed me that no, it’s the whipped cream that’s so good. So on my next visit, the next day, I got the whole shebang. This was Bangkok Peanut, Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Ndali Estate Vanilla Bean ice creams with Salty Graham gravel, Salty Caramel sauce, whipped cream, a cherry, and a waffle wedge. I really wanted to try the Donut gravel but just couldn’t miss out on having the Salty Graham again. All of the toppings were great additions that somehow didn’t tame the flavors of the individual ice creams, but the cherry was the star. It was dark and tangy, familiar and yet also unlike any cherry I’ve ever had. So rich I would’ve been sick after two of them.
I don’t know what it is about Jeni’s ice creams. Reading one of her recipes, I’m always slightly weirded out by the cornstarch, corn syrup, and cream cheese in her bases. But if that’s what it takes to make ice cream so creamy and memorable you come back for it three times in the span of four days, I’m not going to argue. Visit Jeni’s @ Gotham West Market for more information and to see all the flavors being offered in NYC!
Gotham West Market
600 11th Avenue
New York, NY 10036 (map)