Food

The Wild and Wacky Flavors of Laboratorio del Gelato

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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.

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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.

Next: The published list of flavors …

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Lovers of French regional fare will instantly recognize the rightness of prune armagnac.

Gelato

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


Sorbet

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.