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Daily Scoop: Mahlab-Mastic and Chocolate-Chocolate Mint Soft Serve at Victory Garden
Editor's Note: July is Ice Cream Month on Serious Eats: New York! To celebrate, we're spotlighting a scoop we love every day.
A relative newcomer to New York's best ice cream neighborhood, Victory Garden has received no shortage of favorable press for its crisp, light goat milk soft serve. I love it for that, but I'm more intrigued by the Turkish owner's creative flavors, which borrow ingredients from the Eastern Mediterranean you don't often see around here.
To start, take the Mahlab and Mastic (above; $3.89 for small, $4.75 for medium, $5.75 for large), which combines bittersweet sour cherry pits with piney, resinous mastic gum. Mahlab has a vanilla/almond/nutmeg quality, but with subtle fruity tones and a nice bitter finish; it's an exceptional pairing for mouth-cooling mastic. If you're unaccustomed to these bitter flavors, you may be taken aback. But I found that once my dining companions took their third tentative spoonfuls, they were hooked. It's addictive stuff, and some of the most refreshing ice cream in the city.
Chocolate-Chocolate Mint uses a chocolate base with chocolate mint leaves. The flavor isn't the kind of rich luxurious chocolate you may be expecting, but it has a bright, crisp grassiness that has to be tasted to be believed. What does mint taste like when it's mild on the sweetness, heavy on the aromatics, and tinged with cocoa bitterness? This. And you want it.
Be sure to ask about Dondurma on your visit. It's not always available, but when it is, don't hesitate. Victory Garden may be the only place to find the stretchy Turkish ice cream in the city (any intel to the contrary, eaters?). The texture is something like melted mozzarella, and it's pretty fascinating to chew your ice cream before it melts. The typical flavor is straight-up mastic—admittedly an acquired taste, but definitely worth exploring. It's an incredible taste of Ice Cream International.