Today we’re gonna be talking about an unrelenting summer heatwave, the food guides of Domonique Ansel, and ice cream that tastes like Burrata. Let’s get started.
To those living in New York City, or more generally the Northeast, you are aware that we are in the midst of a heatwave. The high temperature of the last few days has been above 95° F with a heat index breaching 105°F. Spending more than a few minutes outside will result in profuse sweating and soiled shirts, a heat-induced headache or more importantly, ice cream fever. Now, if your doctor hasn’t spoken to you yet about this disease then you should switch doctors because it’s very serious and very contagious! Please, for the love of god, whatever you do, don’t get your loved ones infected or you will find yourself buying an exponentially larger amount of ice cream! Oh, the horrors!
With heat like this, there’s nothing more refreshing than ice cream. Granted, I still want to enjoy it within the confines of a heavily air conditioned room, but ice cream during a heat wave is one of the only times when I break my “no ice cream before dinner rule”. While New Yorkers are losing their shit over rolled Thai ice cream shops that seemed to be popping up with increasing popularity (much like the Boba Tea explosion of the early 2000s), I have been hearing about the Dominique Ansel Kitchen in the West Village making Burrata ice cream. This may take a bit to break down so I’m gonna give it a go.
Dominique Ansel is a french pastry chef who first started on the ladder of culinary excellence as the executive pastry chef for Daniel, owned and operated by the illustrious Chef Daniel Boulud (a personal hero of mine). The long list of chefs who have worked under Buloud that have gone on to culinary fame and fortune is too long to list but rest assured that they include the likes of James Briscione and David Chang, just two of my personal favorites. In 2011, Ansel opened Dominique Ansel Bakery in Soho where they sell such coveted items as the Cronut, DKA and one of my favorite sweets, the Cannalé de Bordeaux. He has received multiple awards and has a loyal following by those in the food world but not simply for creating great pastries but for breaking down the wall of dominance that traditional French cuisine has erected that allowed Ansel to invent and create pastries and baked goods in a whole new manner. His inventions are one of a kind, original and delicious. He is an inspiration to aspiring chefs and bakers across the globe and yet, two of his locations in New York are within a 10-minute walk from my apartment. I feel blessed. Today, we are only talking about the ice cream, so get ready.
Located at 137 7th Ave. S., Domonique Ansel Kitchen is a different kind of bakery. When
you first go to his website, you are greeted by an interesting concept:
“We’ve changed the operations of a traditional bakery so we can make your pastries à la minute. Fusing together a retail bakery with a restaurant service kitchen, here more than 70% of the menu is finished, assembled, or baked right when you order them. Our brigade of pastry chefs believes in the importance of time as an ingredient. A freshly baked madeleine will always taste better than one that has been sitting out for a while. For Chef Dominique and our team, eating things at the wrong moment is just as bad as over- or under-salting your food.”
The space, designed by the AVROKO design firm is very sleek and modern. and features a second-floor seating area while the first features a series of elevated seats that look like steps, reminiscent of a high school gym bleachers where the seats are steps but made of wood and tile.
The brigade of pastry chefs behind the counter are working at maximum capacity to ensure that everything ordered is up to the highest degree of perfection before delivering it to you. But to order the ice cream, you need to stay outside.
Located outside is the ice cream bar where you can place your order for the deliciousness that Ansel has invented. For those of you unaware, Burrata is an extension of mozzarella. That is, Burrata is made using mozzarella but where mozzarella is a solid yet squishy consistency, burrata has the firm outer layer with a more liquid-like interior that is richer and more buttery (which is why it’s called “burrata” or “buttered” in Italian). The flavor is all its own and while similar to mozzarella, it is the much richer, creamier and more luscious older cousin.
For $7, you receive what you pay for; a beautiful ice cream that does taste like burrata without being overpowering or overly “cheesy”. The cone is house made (it still a bakery!) and it has the perfect crunch. The bottom of the cone has strawberry confit which is likely strawberry cooked at a very low temperature with a bit of sugar and salt to help the flavor stay bright, regardless it is delicious. On top, you get a very large serving of swirled ice cream that is perfectly white and perfectly swirled (kudos ice cream dude!). The ice cream gets topped with a few small drizzles of sweet balsamic caramel and some micro basil. The combination is both creamy and luscious like good burrata and basil should be if enjoying with balsamic but the necessary additions a baker would make by making the balsamic sweeter rather than tart and by using small picking of basil to give it more depth. The cone is the perfect medium to enjoy this heavenly frozen treat but a part of me wishes that it had more “oomph”. A small touch of salt sprinkled on the outside of the cone would have pushed this already amazing creation to an even higher level.
I am so excited that I finally got to try this! The next time I’m here in getting the Salt & Pepper Caramel ice cream. Shoutout to the entire team who put this together and most importantly to Dominique Ansel for being a genius!
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P.S. If Dominique Ansel is reading this, I received an autographed copy of your cookbook from you many years ago and at the time never thought I would be pursuing food as a career. I’d love to meet you… well, one can dream!