Of all the amazing things about Astoria’s food scene, the one thing it seems to be lacking is ice cream. In Jersey City, there was an ice cream shop literally around the corner from my apartment. I have fond memories of lightly stepping down the steps of my stoop into the barely cool summer night air with my roommate, in our pajamas, for a cone of amazingly intense, creamy chocolate peanut butter or cookies and mint minutes before the family-owned Torico closed for the evening. Astoria is dotted with frozen yogurts-on-the-wall, but good ice cream or gelato is, as yet, impossible to come by. A new gelato place opened down the block from me over the winter, and a friend and I finally tried it last week on one of the first insanely hot days of the season, with high yet guarded hopes. While it was charming for its bare decor and nearly silent European proprietor, the gelato was just sad. Gelato is supposed to be dense, creamy, and packed with flavor. This was the opposite: some whipped concoction that was instead packed with sugar to mask its lack of flavor. The strawberry, after two bites, had an almost artificial taste. I was reminded, again, that if good ice cream were to be had in this town, it would have to be made in my kitchen.
This balsamic roasted strawberry gelato has everything I want in an ice cream: it is impossibly creamy without being weighted down by the fat of a typical American ice cream. Its flavor is completely unmasked by the higher milk-to-cream ratio, intensified by slow-roasting strawberries with balsamic vinegar and maple syrup. It’s sweet, but not too sweet. The strawberry, instead, takes center stage. Pure but ramped up on balsamic-induced steroids. Continue reading →