The Wild and Wacky Flavors of Laboratorio del Gelato
Beet is one of the stranger new flavors at Laboratorio del Gelato.
Now that Laboratorio is in its new digs on Houston Street, steps away from Katz's Deli, we can realize just how wonderful their oddest flavors can be. In the old place on Orchard, maybe there were plenty of off-the-wall selections, but we never knew, since only five or six flavors were available by the scoop each day.
The new Laboratorio del Gelato looks just like what the name suggests -- a laboratory.
The place still looks like a chemical engineering pilot plant, but now the facility is fronted by a mile-long freezer case that can accommodate three dozen flavors at once. The profundity of the gastronomic experimentation going on is on display for all to see. And, in two weeks of sucking gelato (at $3.50 per small cup, which can hold small scoops of two flavors), Fork in the Road has thought up some pretty wild combos.
Tarragon pink pepper and Thai chili chocolate make a great pair. The former is mildly licorice-y, with the otherworldly burn that pink peppercorns -- botanically unrelated to black or white peppercorns -- confer. But that burn is minimal compared with the one produced by Thai bird chiles, which leave a lingering sizzle long after the rich chocolate flavor evaporates. Yet there's a lingering sense that the chocolate has helped to mollify the chiles.
Tarragon pink pepper and Thai chili chocolate make great bedfellows.
Pomegranate and pistachio make an agreeable combination.
Pomegranate sorbet and pistachio turned out to be good choices, too, with the astringency of the fruit making a nice contrast to the mellow nut, but, of the dozen gelatos and sorbets tried, only one proved awful. Cheddar-cheese-flavored gelato was salty and sour, with a bad aftertaste -- not really all that much like cheese. Would other cheese flavors work? A friend said she thought blue-cheese ice cream might be good, and mascarpone is already a shoo-in for a good flavor. It's often the choice of pastry chefs for an accompanying scoop.
Really, you can't blame Laboratorio for having a bad flavor or two. It's all part of the experimental process.
Laboratorio del Gelato 188 Ludlow Street 212-343-9922
The sweet potato (top) was unexpectedly excellent, but the cheddar cheese (bottom) bit.
Lovers of French regional fare will instantly recognize the rightness of prune armagnac.
acacia honey amaretto crunch apple calvados avocado banana basil blackberry blueberry bourbon pecan buttermilk cajeta caramel caramel, salted cheddar cheese chestnut chestnut honey choc amaretto crunch chocolate choc chip chocolate cinnamon chocolate hazelnut chocolate, dark chocolate, kahlua chocolate, milk malt chocolate, milk chocolate, Thai chili chocolate, white cinnamon cinnamon, mexican coconut coffee, greek chestnut honey crème fraîche dulce de leche eggnog earl grey espresso espresso chip fig, black mission fig, fresh white fig, fresh black fig, fresh brown turkey fresh mint ginger Greek yogurt green tea guinness hazelnut kahlua lavender, honey lemon licorice macadamia malt mango maple maple walnut mascarpone mastic meringue mint chip mocha nutmeg olive oil orange peach peanut butter pear peppermint stick pistachio prune/armagnac pumpkin raspberry red bean rhubarb rice ricotta rose petal rosemary rum raisin sambuca sesame, black sesame, toasted white sour cream strawberry sweet cream tarragon pink pepper toasted almond vanilla vanilla chocolate chip vanilla pecan vanilla rum vanilla saffron walnut nocello wasabi
apple, fuji apple, gala apple, green apple, honeycrisp black currant/cassis blackberry w/port blood orange blueberry cantaloupe champagne cherry coconut cranberry dark chocolate grape, black grape, concord grape, green grape, red grapefruit grapefruit campari grapefruit hibiscus honeydew kalamansi kiwi lemon lemon basil lemon rosemary lemon verbena lime lime fresh mint lychee mango nectarine orange orange hibiscus papaya passion fruit peach pear pineapple plum, black plum, dinosaur plum, green plum, red pomegranate raspberry strawberry tangerine watermelon
Sour cream may be overly subtle.
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