La Newyorkina Mexican Ice Cream

Cinnamon and coconut ice cream at Le Newyorkina ice cream

Before my first trip to Mexico a number of years ago, I didn’t know Mexico was a country known for its ice cream (helado), let alone an array of other delicious sweets. I wandered through panaderias (bakeries) with the metal tray and tongs they gave me, picking out my own cakes and confections. I fell especially hard for the little disks of mazapán de cacahuate (peanut paste), caramelized flans sold on blocks of ice from pushcarts on the street, and anything – and everything – made with cajeta, goat’s milk caramel.

Paletas at Le Newyorkina ice cream

Americans have integrated many of the wonderful foods from Mexico into our culture, but the ice cream remains elusive. Fany Gerson is changing that. I was introduced to Fany when I picked up a copy of My Sweet Mexico, a book that she wrote to present desserts and pastries from our neighbors south of the border.

There aren’t a lot of book that focus on the sweet side of Mexican cooking and I was so taken with the book, and the photographs of Mexican bakers, fruit vendors, and candy makers, that before I signed my contract to write My Paris Kitchen, I insisted on having Ed Anderson shoot the photos, who did the photos in My Sweet Mexico. Like the recipes in the book, his pictures captured what makes Mexico, and the foods of the country, so special. I knew he could do the same for Paris, revealing something about the city’s soul and culinary culture that exists, but is often presented in a different way than I saw it. (Someone wrote to me that they were surprised that there were some recipes included that weren’t French in the book, not understanding that foods like pistou, foie gras, macarons, croissants, and even coffee, have roots in other cultures.)

Fany Gerson at Le Newyorkina ice cream

After her book on Mexican pastries, Fany came out with a book on Paletas, those cheerful Mexican popsicles which are often a palette for creativity, made with everything from mangoes and limes, to cucumbers and chiles. And, of course, Mexican chocolate and vanilla, considered some of the best in the world, figures its way into everything.

My Sweet Mexico and Paletas at Le Newyorkina ice cream

Fany offered up her treats in a series of pop-up spaces and food stores, and sold her paletas, Mexican-style, from a pushcart on the High Line. But I was thrilled that she’s finally opened her own shop, La Newyorkina in the West Village. When I walked in, I made a beeline toward the stainless steel square bins of just-churned ice creams and sorbets.

Helado at Le Newyorkina ice cream

In the great American tradition of giving samples, I tasted a few flavors, including a spicy mole ice cream, horchata, based on the rice and cinnamon beverage, and coffee ice cream, using beans from Chiapas.

Oaxacan hot fudge sauce at Le Newyorkina ice cream

Mango paleta at Le Newyorkina ice cream

Because Fany was a pastry chef, you’ll find hand-made cones, chile-flecked brownies, and chocolate drizzled cookies (garabatos) filled with thick caramel, on the counter, as well as mixed into some of the ice creams, or used as ice cream and sundae toppings.

Ice cream cones at Le Newyorkina ice cream

I was drawn to the list of them, featuring flavors and ingredients that scream “order us!”

Le Newyorkina ice cream

candied nuts and seeds at Le Newyorkina ice cream

While I was chatting with Fany, a neighbor popped in for a paleta, another fellow had a cup of spicy, chile-accented mango granita. It was nice to see how quickly integrated into the neighborhood her shop has become.

Le Newyorkina ice cream

One of the most unusual flavors was that spicy mole ice cream, which was dreamy with warm Oaxacan chocolate ladled over it. But other flavors include toasted coconut-chocolate, canela (cinnamon), and Tres leches ice cream, riffing off the famous cake made by soaking spongecake with three kinds of milk; condensed, evaporated, and fresh, whole milk.

Helados at Le Newyorkina ice cream

Mole ice cream with chocolate sauce at Le Newyorkina ice cream

Curiously, Fany also hand-churns ice cream, called Nieves de Garrafa, stirred over ice in large wooden buckets that she brought back from Mexico, garrafas. (I’m wondering “How can I bring one home?”)

Le Newyorkina ice cream

When I learned to make ice cream, we had a bucket that used ice and rock salt, and it took forever to churn. So I think I’ll stick to my electric machine, or leave the stirring to others. (She said it takes about 45 minutes of stirring before the ice cream is ready.) The day I was there, the flavors included pineapple with herbs (basil and mint) and a very tart lime, that would have been great with a shot of tequila or mezcal poured over it.

Strawberry paleta at Le Newyorkina ice cream

But she’s probably best-known for her paletas, and offers up several dozen varieties that change with the seasons; mango with pickled plum juice, yogurt-berry swirl, and tamarind, among others. Mexican sweets often make use of flavors and tastes that we don’t incorporate into desserts elsewhere, including vinegar, salt, herbs and flowers. I can’t list them all here, but the ones that got my attention were the filled pops.

strawberry paleta at Le Newyorkina ice cream

The stripes ones are beautiful, but a strawberry paleta filled with sweetened condensed milk and another flavored with Mexican cinnamon with gooey goat’s milk caramel inside, got my vote, and are reason enough to visit. (The woman who’d come in earlier for a popsicle looked like she was a model, so if she can indulge, so can I.)

Paletas at Le Newyorkina ice cream

cajeta paleta at Le Newyorkina ice cream

Before I left, I spent some time talking to Fany about food (mostly about ice cream) and our cultures, and how we intersect. America is such a vibrant mix of people and foods from other places, which include hot dogs and pizza, coffee and ice cream, burgers and pastrami.

We eat French food because we’ve traveled to France, or read about it, and wanted to have those flavors closer to home. And there’s a rich mix in our cities of authentic Italian and Asian foods and restaurants that represent the diverse mix of cultures that are part of America.

We also have tacos and tortilla chips (and personally, I could imagine life without chips and guacamole), so I’m thankful that Fancy has brought a bit of the sweet side of Mexico to us, too.

Sundaes at Le Newyorkina ice cream

La Newyorkina
240 Sullivan Street
New York, NY
(646) 861-0727

 

mysweetmexico

 


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21 comments

  • November 16, 2016 4:05pm

    Life without chips and guacamole would be sad, but life without tacos would not be worth living (said by someone living in the south of France).
    How in the world does she get the filling in the paletas? I’m imagining the possibilities, but dismissing them just as fast. This will keep me up tonight.
    Although I would be drawn to New Yorkinas for the helados, I am sure I would be back often for her 1000-watt smile.

  • Debra
    November 16, 2016 5:17pm

    Wow, will definitely be going there next time I’m in NYC. Thanks!

    Btw, today’s Washington Post has a big spread on your celeriac and apple soup. Gonna make it!

  • Tziranda
    November 16, 2016 5:18pm

    A lovely post! Most people know Mexican food for what has been a reinvention of our traditional ingredients. Sweets and desserts, like you say have not been explored enough, I’m happy that people like Fanny have found a way to do so. Hopeully Mexicans and Mexican culture won’t suffer too much in the coming events of the world. Thank you for posting this lovely description of our sweet side and treats!

  • November 16, 2016 5:38pm

    Thank for this gracious post. I can’t imagine what it took to write this. The recent anti-Latino rhetoric–even here in the San Francisco Bay Area–has been shocking and painful to those of us who cannot imagine life without a cuisine that until now, we often took for granted. Not to mention the friends, neighbors, and colleagues responsible for preparing it.

    • gary
      November 21, 2016 5:19am

      Here in LA the sentiment isn’t anti-Latino at all, it’s anti illegal immigration. It’s really not the same and disappointing to see people confuse them.

      • November 21, 2016 2:00pm
        David Lebovitz

        Yes, it’s especially disheartening to see and read about young people as young as elementary school age harass other students of different origins and call them names. As you say, many are legal immigrants, like most of our grandparents were in the United States. But I still don’t think anyone should be bullied, especially students at schools and on social media which, unfortunately, seems to be on the rise.

  • tands
    November 16, 2016 6:11pm

    helado de elote-corn ice cream was a major,wonderful revelation-

  • Clare, Dublin, Ireland
    November 16, 2016 6:17pm

    What a lovely post. Many of us who live in less multi-cultural places than the US envy the rich variety of peoples, food, and cultures which America enjoys. Here’s hoping that with time, people will return to appreciating and valuing the diversity of American life-and food!

  • November 16, 2016 6:27pm

    Yes, a lovely post. Time to celebrate even more our diverse cultures and honor them in every way we can. Never take for granted.

  • November 16, 2016 6:38pm

    Perfect post. Just perfect.

  • Parisbreakfasr
    November 16, 2016 9:00pm

    I am trying not to drool… Such gorheouos desserts!

  • berit
    November 16, 2016 9:24pm

    45 effing minutes….wow just wow! That’s what I call dedication.Especially considering the large variety of flavours she offers. I am just bamboozled by this fact :-O

  • Wendy
    November 16, 2016 9:53pm

    The cinnamon with cajeta sounds dreamy!! Definitely putting this on my wish list next time I’m in
    NY.

  • November 16, 2016 10:20pm

    Mmm, mole ice cream. That sounds great.

  • Barbara Cury
    November 17, 2016 4:36am

    Sounds delicious! Next time in LA, you may want to stop by La Michoaacana in Reseda for some marvelous Mexican flavors of ice cream, ices, and frozen yoghurt.

  • witloof
    November 17, 2016 5:20am

    Oh my. I was just two blocks away earlier this evening. My office is in the village, so maybe I’ll go after work tomorrow evening!

  • November 17, 2016 10:24am

    I can’t wait to try everything in this shop. The pictures are beautiful and seducing. Thanks for sharing!

  • Peggy Linke
    November 18, 2016 10:49pm

    David, I loved this blog, especially the comments about how we love all kinds of food. Especially welcome right now in this political climate!

  • November 21, 2016 12:30am

    My Sweet Mexico is a fabulous book – although it taught me I do not have the patience and upper body strength of a Mexican abuela! Stirring that fudge is a killer hehe

  • t0103
    December 12, 2016 7:13pm

    Hi, I love your blog and this post in particular I found inspiring! I love Mexican food and the prospect of mole in helado is enticing.
    Just wanted to throw in that Horchata is originally made from tiger nuts, and nowadays also sometimes with almonds. If youve only tried the rice versions you’re missing out.
    Cheers and thanks again for your awesome delicious site.

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