Thursday, September 06, 2007

NY Ice Cream Tour 2007 - Round 2.3

Grom was the very last stop on my ice cream tour. In truth, I meant to return to pinkberry before I left the city, but on account of a very long dinner, it wasn't actually possible to make that return visit. I'm still waiting.

A day after n and I finished Round 2, I journeyed to the upper west side to visit Grom, the hot new gelateria where friends said the line frequently spanned a whole block. Luckily I did not encounter such a line, but it was a weekday morning. I'll spare you the lengthy story of Grom's pedigree, but suffice to say that the Manhattan shop is its first outside of Italy and that their factory is near the airport in Rome so ingredients remain fresh as they're flown across the Atlantic. Factory and fresh ingredients. It sounds like a paradox. The philosophy is that high-quality products can be replicated and produced in a standardized fashion. Small-batch "mixes" arrive in NY and the gelato is made onsite.

The menu rotates depending on what's in season. Ingredient pedigree is important and they're happy to advertise it, which makes for a bit of a snobbish read. I ordered the stracciatella ice cream which might have read something like this: Madagascar vanilla ice cream with Venezuelan chocolate chunks. To be honest, I can't remember the geographic heritage of its ingredients, but I thought the product was exquisite. I was especially impressed by the chocolate, which was dark, crunchy, and superior to most chocolate chips haphazardly thrown into chocolate chip ice cream. The espresso ice cream (also with now forgotten geographic markers) was good, but as I tend towards less sugar in my espresso flavors, I found it a bit sweet.

It's a toss up between Grom and ILDG. Where ILDG is tops in terms of price, Grom exceeds even that. And I wonder if I'm willing to pay a true premium for Grom. Grom regularly has unusual flavors not to be found elsewhere, and for that I would visit the shop.

As n said, it's a bit difficult to compare the products we sampled on our (perhaps misnamed) ice cream tour. The fact is that we didn't set out to judge a winner and so I shall refrain from declaring a favorite. We were most certainly not methodical (other than going for geographic efficiency) since we sampled whatever flavors and products struck our fancy in a given moment.

Final thoughts (in ascending order of whether or not I would revisit):

Cones - I have no desire to return.

Tasti D-Lite - a pleasant, but unmemorable soft-serve. Due to its ubiquity in the city, it wins for convenience, but with the wealth of frozen treats all over the city, I'd put this in the category of sustenance fare rather than treat.

Yolato - I would return if I were in the neighborhood and if pinkberry didn't exist, but in all honestly it's a bit of an odd hybrid. Neither pure frozen yogurt not gelato, it works, but my tendency is towards one product or another.

Australian Homemade Ice Cream - a very unusual lemon-basil sorbet makes this worth revisiting and I will endeavor to cross paths with the passionfruit flavor. I found the shop a bit lacking in character (a little too sleek and not enough playful) but it's in a great neighborhood.

ILDG - casual shop, cute neighborhood, lovely ice cream. This would be my everyday gelateria.

Grom - fancy shop, cute neighborhood, lovely ice cream. This would be my special occasion gelateria.

pinkberry - I loved it. Despite my high expectations, it didn't disappoint. I have been sampling pinkberry wannabes since we have no local outlet, but they are missing that elusive brain-rotting, navigation-impairing, makes you giddy quality.

n and I have already started planning our next ice cream tour. Suggestions are welcome.


Blogger Darcy said...

There are tons of Pinkberry stores down in LA, though.

Here's another question: did any of them manage to rival Ici? (You've been missing tons of flavors all summer long!)

I have to disagree with you on the cracktastic-ness of Pinkberry -- it's tasty, yes, and I'd happily eat it lots, but it seems to me like a (vaguely) healthy snack, not like something to cure my ice cream cravings.

2:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Pinkberry is not ice cream, and, truthfully, Red Mango is better frozen yogurt than Pinkberry...

You'll just have to come down to LA sometime... we have other places to eat too, both fancy, and just plain tasty.

3:05 AM  
Blogger erica said...

Grom's ingredients and homey, heritage quality was similar Ici, but it's had to compare products.

When I venture to LA, I shall do a side-by-side tasting of pinkberry and red mango.

4:44 AM  

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