What with all of the hoopla of Mardi Gras going on, it’s easy to miss one of the most significant celebrations of February, Great American Pie Month! Naturally this is said with a heavy inflection of snark, but to take it that extra mile, what is even more paramount than pie is that scoop of cool, creamy sweetness which frequently makes an appearance alongside or, better yet, atop many a slice. After all, there are not many folks out there willing to forgo the rich, velvety rapture that is ice cream, regardless of the month … or whether or not it’s served with pie.
O ice cream! It is a dessert that transcends culture, possesses an infinite number of flavor combinations and makes an appearance on nearly every single restaurant menu in existence. In New Orleans, we have classic favorites like Creole Creamery, Quintin’s Natural and New Orleans Ice Cream Co., but lately there have been several newcomers on the scene, shops and online purveyors who surely deserve a share of the local limelight.
Over in Lakeview, there’s been much ado about Junior’s on Harrison, a modern American restaurant that opened back in November with Chef Jacob Cureton, formerly of Atchafalaya, at the helm. Among the creative starters, soups, salads and burgers at Junior’s, their dessert menu is short and to the point offering rotating flavors of Gail’s Fine Ice Cream. This small-batch ice cream, oft distributed from a blue and white food truck, places heavy emphasis on the “best of the best” when it comes to ingredients resulting in a flavorful, creamy, almost chewy product regardless of whether you’re spooning a scoop of the double chocolate, lemon ice box pie or vanilla bean. Get yourself to Junior’s for a scoop or three, or follow @gailsfineicecream on Instagram to see where you can ambush the truck on its next outing.
Over in the Marigny, ice cream master Erica Buher of Just Desserts has founded Sundae Best, a sweet spot inside the convent building of Hotel Peter & Paul. Pop in any day but Wednesday for a scoop of flavor such as butterscotch pecan, honey and Zapp’s, peanut crackle and jam or toasted coconut. You can also combine your favorites in two-scoop sundaes, three-scoop banana splits, ice cream sandwiches made with house made black cocoa cookies, or keep it simple with a shake or float. Sundae Best also offers incredible ice cream cakes, but orders must be placed at least a week in advance, so call ahead!
Across Lake Pontchartrain is Hoodoo Ice Cream, a shop that opened mid-summertime of 2018. Launched by Billy Sussky and George Schenck on North Columbia Street, Hoodoo’s initial draw was their Creole cream cheese flavor, but their creativity goes far beyond this simple, local classic. Though they are always changing, past flavors have included such magic as Apple Bacon Habanero, Pumpkin Pie with graham cracker crust, Lavender White Chocolate with local honey, Chocolate Walnut Brownie, Blue Cheese and Fig, Candied Chanterelle, Mint Chocolate Matcha, and Red Bean & Rice! Watch out Creole Creamery! It looks like Hoodoo may just give you a run for your money.
Cruise back across the lake to the South Market District for a taste of something completely different, Aqua S. Coming all the way from down under, this Australian soft-serve chain has only a few U.S. locations in Houston, Virginia Beach and now (lucky us!) New Orleans. Featuring their signature sea-salt recipe, the flavors at Aqua S change every two weeks giving soft-serve fanatics just enough time to get their fill before moving on to the next great taste. Past options have included sensations like sweet corn, pink lemonade, guava, vanilla bean frappe, horchata, honeydew and Earl Grey milk tea. Ravage a cone of your choice right there in the shop, or choose a pint to take home, either way is the right way to do it.
Finally, a new newcomer to the local scene is Perky’s Ice Cream. Selling their brand from a virtual storefront, Perky’s touts that it’s a “native New Orleans business” whose mission is to “incorporate cultural foods into ice cream to broaden our youth’s mindset.” Current flavors include S’mores, Fruity Pebble Goodness, Banana Pudding with ‘Nilla Wafers, and Strawberry Shortcake. Though this may seem a tame collection right now, the shop only launched very recently, so we’ll keep a sharp eye out for bigger things to come.
*Article originally published in the February 2020 issue of Where Y’at Magazine