It has become something of a Whimsy tradition that when overseas, I provide you with a review of an ice cream shop. (Well, it's a tradition in my head anyway and that's good enough for me.)
Thus, I write with news of Ice Cream Wonder across the Atlantic - Big Gay Ice Cream Wonder from, where else, The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop in New York's East Village.
The Big Gay Ice Cream Shop started out life as a food truck whizzing around the streets of NYC but, owing to demand, became an-all-year-round ice cream wonder palace in 2011. It's a tiny walk-in shop with a permanent queue outside in the amazing East Village.
The inside of the shop is the definition of whimsy. There is a giant glittering Unicorn on the wall, and My Little Pony ephemera dotted about the shop.
I was particularly taken by the multi-coloured cat chalk board next to the menu.
The menu itself, modelled here by the SIBF, is a thing of sheer joy. I didn't have sufficient time to peruse it, unfortunately, so sort of panic-ordered an ice cream I wouldn't normally go for, but it was still amazing.
The thing about Big Gay Ice Cream is that it's a playful variation on traditional American 'soft-serve' ice cream. Ie Posh Mr Whippy. But better. A million times better. The joy is that the soft-serve itself is beyond delicious - creamy, air-whip-light and flavoursome - but that on top of the ice cream, the toppings are imaginative, exciting and generously portioned. In much the same way I would suggest that eye make-up is all about the glitter, Big Gay Ice Cream is all about the toppings. But I digress.
I ordered the Rocky Roadhouse - a chocolate ice cream covered in rocky road topping comprising of marshmallows, dark chocolate chips and salted almonds. The ice cream takes its name from Patrick Swayze's 1989 movie Road House and serves as a tribute to the late great man himself. The combination of the crunchy nuts, the chewy marshmallow, the super-soft-serve ice cream and the bitey choc chips was A-may-zing (as Craig Revel Horwood might say if he were judging ice cream rather than dancing).
The SIBF ordered the American Globs which is possibly the quintessential Big Gay Ice Cream as it is 'dipped'. This means that the entire ice cream is dipped in a vat of hot chocolate sauce which then dries and creates a hard outer shell - like what a Magnum tries to do but fails. If someone decided to come up with this idea and sell it here they would make their fortune because once eaten no other ice cream is the same. On top of this, the American Globs featured dark chocolate salty-sweet pretzels dotted throughout it and its name is a tribute to Neil Gaiman's 'American Gods' making it ice cream nirvana!
Anyway, you go in, order your Big Gay Ice Cream, leave and find a stoop to sit on and eat it. Alternatively, you could take your ice cream into Tompkins Square Park, but I wouldn't recommend it unless you like eating ice cream with rats crawling round yr feet. (Not the definition of whimsy.)
The trouble is that now that I've had my Big Gay Ice Cream and eaten it, how will I ever go back to ice cream of any other variation?
Coming up next: The Secret Cocktail Bars of NYC #2.