In a city that swelters in the summer, New Orleans Ice Cream Co. proprietor Adrian Simpson has helped locals cool down with their wildly popular high-end ice cream in unusual flavors that play on traditional desserts since 2006.
Crescent City is a cocktail town, sure, but New Orleans Ice Cream and liquor are the best of summertime companions. “Our ice cream lends itself to booze deliciously,” Simpson says about a few of his company’s 23 flavors. He recommends pairing the bananas Foster (caramel ice cream with banana chunks, rum and nutmeg) with rum and the white chocolate bread pudding flavor (custard ice cream with nuggets of white chocolate bread pudding and bourbon sauce) with bourbon.
But even if alcohol isn’t involved, the dessert still dazzles. At the annual New Orleans Wine & Food Experience this past May, the brand’s red velvet cake (cake pieces and a chocolate swirl in Creole cream cheese ice cream) and mint chocolate cookie (mint cookie crumbles and chocolate shavings in mint ice cream) flavors were two of the most sought-after features at the Grand Tastings.
The inspired scoops are getting buzz all over the country. New Orleans Ice Cream Co.’s cafe au lait and beignets (made with cold coffee, scalded milk and beignet bits) was named “Best Ice Cream of 2013” by The Ice Cream Informant blog, a designation that helped spike sales of the flavor. Still, the company’s most popular option is Creole cream cheese, with its fresh farmer’s-style cream cheese blended into the vanilla ice cream base for a decadently rich summer treat. But New Orleans Ice Cream isn’t merely a remedy to July heat waves. “We notice our [ice cream] sells well all year, too, especially around holiday times,” Simpson says.
His creative flavors use an array of local ingredients, from fresh berries in the Ponchatoula strawberry to the chicory (ground roots of the endive plant; roasted chicory-coffee blends are favored in NOLA) in the creamy coffee and chicory. But he has a hard time choosing a favorite. “That’s like picking your favorite child. I’m proud of them all,” Simpson insists. “But my current favorites are cafe au lait and beignets, or praline crunch. Or satsuma dreamsicle. Or lemon doberge. Or mint chocolate cookie. I haven’t really chosen one there, have I?”
No, but you can’t blame him. I was stuck on Ponchatoula strawberry until discovering the white chocolate bread pudding and red velvet cake. But it’s tough to commit to one favorite, which is why New Orleans Ice Cream Co. is in high gear, continually adding new premium flavors to its handcrafted arsenal. The company’s latest offering is Mardi Gras pie, a marshmallow ice cream with a marshmallow swirl, chocolate flakes and soft graham crackers, and it will be available all year round.
Many grocery and convenience stores in New Orleans stock the brand. If you can’t get down to NOLA anytime soon, there’s no need to worry; the ice cream can be shipped nationally via the company’s website. Now, that’s something we can all scream about.
Photos courtesy of New Orleans Ice Cream Co.