The first thing that will jump out at you when visiting Brooklyn’s OddFellows Ice Cream Co. website is their array of quirky flavors. It isn’t everyday you see flavors like Tobacco Leaf Smoked Chili Huckleberry; Beet Pistachio Honey Goat Cheese; Coconut, Cream Cheese & Carrot Cake; and Sesame Kumquat Pumpernickel.
That being said, what makes OddFellows isn’t just their atypical offerings, but their methods of production. Opened in June 2013, OddFellows Ice Cream Co. caused a stir from the beginning. Within two months of opening, they’d been voted Best Ice Cream in New York , one of the eight Best Ice Cream Shops For Kids In New York City by Timeout New York and one of New York City’s 10 Tastiest Summer Treats by Forbes Travel Guide.
So, what makes OddFellows so addictive?
“We’re making ice cream from scratch which is a very rare thing,” explains co-owner Mohan Kumar. “Not too many people are doing this in the country and only a handful are in NYC. Typically people who claim to sell homemade ice cream are buying their ice cream base from a creamery or farm and are adding in things like chocolate chips. We’re going the extra step and making our own base ice cream. Our dairy comes from New York-based Battenkill Valley Creamy, and we source produce locally as much as possible.”
Not surprisingly, chef and co-owner Sam Mason, the mastermind behind all this sweet genius, has experience in New York City restaurants as a pastry chef at WD-50 and working under renowned chefs like Alain Ducasse, Jean-Louis Palladin and Paul Liebrandt. He brings the creativity and culinary skills he’s honed now to OddFellows, where he does things with ice cream most shops wouldn’t even be able to imagine.
Most notable is Mason’s unique freezing techniques, which he incorporates into a number of flavors. For example, one of their most popular flavors is Peanut Butter and Jelly. While it may sound simple, Mason freezes jelly with liquid nitrogen and then shatters it before folding it into peanut butter ice cream. Another flavor using a similar method is the Neapolitan, with chocolate and strawberry ice cream frozen, shattered and folded into the vanilla for a treat that looks marbled and tastes like you’re eating ice cream within ice cream (because essentially, you are!).
Since opening they’ve created and sold 110 flavors of homemade ice cream, a number most ice cream shops don’t reach in their lifetime. Keep in mind, they only put in the case what’s meets their standards, and if they test out a new flavor and it doesn’t, it doesn’t get sold. At any given time you’ll find 12-14 ice creams on the menu, which changes seasonally.
OddFellows also offers one sundae each season. While most ice cream shops consider a sundae a platter of ice cream scoops with blobs of whipped cream and messy fudge, OddFellows takes a more thoughtful approach, each ingredient carefully curated and laid out. For example, their winter Mast Brothers Hot Fudge Sundae — a collaboration with the local Master Brothers Chocolate — featured three scoops of chocolate chunk ice cream sitting on a bed of chocolate soil and topped with fluffy chocolate cake, chocolate-infused whipped cream, chocolate beads, and a drizzling of salted caramel and hot fudge. Another collaboration sundae they offered was a beer sundae with Brooklyn Brewery, made with three ice cream flavors: Black Chocolate Stout, Amber Ale and Pretzel. From there, layers of chocolate covered pretzels were added as well as a topping of beer foam instead of whipped cream.
“It’s kind of become a thing where local businesses approach us to collaborate on a sundae,” laughs Kumar. “In the future we’d like to partner with a cafe to do a coffee sundae.”
Not surprisingly, OddFellows receives a large number of adventurous guests looking to try the most bizarre flavor on the menu; however, there are also people interested in having a high-quality chocolate chunk or mint chocolate chunk because it’s what they like.
“We want to create the best ice cream we possibly can,” explains Kumar. “We want people to enjoy and fall in love with ice cream more than they ever have. Everyone always has a sweet spot for their childhood ice cream shop, and we want to recreate that. It’s great having small children in the neighborhood have us be their first ice cream. Hopefully they’ll remember us.”
Photos courtesy of OddFellows Ice Cream Co. This article originally appeared on Drive the District.
Jessica Festa is the editor of the travel sites Jessie on a Journey (http://jessieonajourney.com) and Epicure & Culture (http://epicureandculture.com). Along with blogging at We Blog The World, her byline has appeared in publications like Huffington Post, Gadling, Fodor’s, Travel + Escape, Matador, Viator, The Culture-Ist and many others. After getting her BA/MA in Communication from the State University of New York at Albany, she realized she wasn’t really to stop backpacking and made travel her full time job. Some of her most memorable experiences include studying abroad in Sydney, teaching English in Thailand, doing orphanage work in Ghana, hiking her way through South America and traveling solo through Europe. She has a passion for backpacking, adventure, hiking, wine and getting off the beaten path.