Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Victory Garden (New York, NY)

NYC's Best Frozen Treat: Goat Milk Soft Serve

Ooooh BOY. I just discovered the most delicious frozen treat in all of NYC: goat milk soft serve! In a neighborhood that's as riddled with frozen treats vendors* as Boston is with Dunkin' Donuts, West Villagers now have Victory Garden, a fabulous one-month-old newcomer selling the most delicious soft ice cream imaginable, made out of organic goat milk from Beltane Farm in Lebanon, Connecticut.

* These include Grom, People's Pops, L'Arte del Gelato, Cones, Rocco's, Love Gelato, Imperial Woodpecker and the Van Leeuwen ice cream truck, just to name a few. 

I'm no fan of soft serve, ordinarily. I associate it with IKEA's creepily Crisco-like concoction and it's seldom as delicious to me as "real" ice cream or gelato. But goat milk soft serve is a whole 'nother animal. The goat milk adds a lovely, tangy qualty that's just slightly funky in a good way.

On a detour while running errands, recently, I tried Victory Garden's salted caramel flavor. There were three other flavors available that day, including Chocolate Victory, Orange Blossom Vanilla, and Victory Garden Hotel Blend. Salted caramel was a clever way to celebrate the natural slight saltiness of goat milk and the concentrated caramel notes reminded me of cajeta.

"Mini" Cup of Salted Caramel Goat Milk Soft Serve. 
(I licked the top before snapping this shot.) 

Ordinarily, I try not to gush about mouthfeel -- I know it can sound pretentious -- but the soft serve at Victory Garden deserves a note: It's creamy and naturally rich in a way I'd forgotten soft serve could be. Where other soft serves often coat your tongue in a layer of something that doesn't melt properly, Victory Garden's soft serve oozes richly over the tongue, touching every tastebud you have. Eating it for the first time must be akin to discovering real whipped cream after a lifetime of eating only Cool Whip. The difference is dramatic.

The vastly superior texture may have something to do with the shop's claim that it draws inspiration from "the tradition of Anatolian dondurma, a rich goat milk ice cream made with the root of the wild orchid", the same stuff that's used to make Turkish "chewy" ice creams. The texture of the soft serve was not quite like salep dondurma, but it was more substantial than usual.

On the day I went, there was no sign of dondurma available, though the store does sell goat milk yogurt parfaits, jars of ice cream toppings, homemade marshmallows and even goat-milk-derived soaps and moisturizers and Turkish beach towels.

Half Boutique, Half Ice Cream Shop

Victory Garden touts its products as being nutritious, a good source of vitamins, protein, calcium and potassium. Prices are shockingly fair, given the quality of the ingredients, product and the serving size. A very large "mini" cup, about the same size as a medium or large cup at Love Gelato and Grom, is only $3; a regular sized cup is $4.50; and the large is $5.25. Toppings are $1 for one, $1.75 for two, $0.75 for a sauce, and $1.50 for one topping and one sauce. (Maybe they cut you off at two toppings?)

Flavors of the Day

The topping bar featured strawberry-rhubarb sauce and honey; various fresh fruits; fresh, handmade marshmallows; halvah; pistachios and other nuts; cake crumbs; toasted wheat germ; gummy worms; cacao nibs; and, yes of course, sprinkles. As far as I'm concerned, though, there's nothing you can add to this soft serve to make it more delicious than it already is.

31 Carmine Street
New York, NY 10014

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