Not only is July National Ice Cream Month, but today, the third Sunday in July, is America's officially designated National Ice Cream Day. To celebrate President Reagan's least destructive act, both the Hester Street Fair on the Lower East Side and the Brooklyn Flea (which is in Williamsburg today) are throwing big ice cream bashes this afternoon, each featuring an all-star line up of some of NYC's best frozen treat makers. The festivals began yesterday,
At the Hester Street Fair they're calling it an Ice Cream Social, and an impressive 15 or so vendors have taken over the Fair's new "extension" along Essex Street. Among the highlights here:
• Baldies and Friend, making their NYC debut with a straight-up epic version of the legendary Choco Taco. The Baldies riff—called the OG Chaco—is fresh, nails all the right textures (creamy, crunchy) and flavors (chocolate, caramel, nuts, butter) and should be eaten with gusto.
• Sam's Fried Ice Cream, which will make feel like you actually made it to the Minnesota State Fair. It's a ball of ice cream (in my case, coffee) rolled in a "secret" sweet coating, deep fried until crispy, a ton of powdered sugar dumped on top. This is a belly bomb and totally worth it.
• Scoops by Luca and Bosco from the Essex Street Market; Handsome Dan's sno-cones; Lezzetli's weird-ish, gummy-but-good Turkish ice cream; and the boozy delights at the Tipsy Scoop stand (eg, Cake Batter Martini), which supposedly are all 5% alcohol.
The Hester Street Fair never gets too TOO packed, and there's seating at either ends of the extension. There were virtually no lines at any of booths when I was there yesterday in the early afternoon, making it easy to sample just about everything. Oh and neighborhood favorite Recette has laid out a FREE toppings bar, with fancy treats like 5-Spice Wheat Puffs and Strawberry and Black Pepper syrup.
Meanwhile, across the estuary, Fort Greene was the site of the Brooklyn Flea's annual ice cream bash yesterday, this year branded as the Creme de la Creme Festival. The Flea's vendors are excellent all up and down the line, but stand-outs include:
• La Newyorkina has teamed up with the superb Ovenly Bakery for a full slate of brand-new flavors (get the Holy Mole, which is vanilla with cajeta and ancho chili brownies) and, BREAKING: there will be an ice cream cart outside of Ovenly's Greenpoint storefront with all of these and more, all summer long!
• The S'Mores Pie Milkshake from the fine women of Butter and Scotch is, unsurprisingly, insanely good: thick and chewy and sweet and satisfying.
• The Raw Milk and Burnt Honey scoops from Rivington hotspot Morgenstern's Finest; a scoop of Caramel in a Pretzel Cone at Steve's; and all the things at Phin and Phebes, but especially their Vietnamese Iced Coffee.
Lines were considerably longer here than at Hester Street, and that is likely to be the case today as well, when the Flea, and Creme de la Creme, set up shop along the water in Williamsburg. One more thing: it ain't all ice cream: there's Daly Pie (at Hester) and Dough donuts (at the Flea).