This past Sunday, July 11, was the 2015 Brooklyn Ice Cream Takedown at the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club in Gowanus, one of a series of themed Takedown events (others include the Chili Takedown and the Mac-and-Cheese Takedown). The $20 ticket promised unlimited ice cream, so obviously I was there.
Takedowns are for home cooks, who compete for miscellaneous prizes and pride. In this case, the winners received Cuisinart ice cream makers, plus assorted smaller items. The judges, from Ample Hills, Coolhaus, Little Baby’s, and newcomer Malai, picked their top 3, and popular vote decided the top 3 peoples’ choice winners.
I counted 13 entrants and tried every single one (serving sizes were about 1 tablespoon per entrant). I was surprised to see that most of the flavors were pretty out-there. A few of the odder ones were Mojito, Hojicha (roasted green tea) with Blueberry Basil Granita, and Mint Cilantro Cucumber with optional mango and pistachio topping.
After sampling the first few, it became clear that texture was what separated the amateurish amateurs from the regular ol’ amateurs. A few of the competitors had tragically icy ice cream—crunchy with ice crystals. The hojicha ice cream had intentionally added ice crystals, in the form of the granita topping (no! that green tea ice cream might have been really good). My personal favorite was Chocolate Almond Cherry Chunk, because the ice cream itself was smooth and creamy, and the almonds added a good crunchy texture.
I should note that these Takedown events seem to be pretty DIY and haphazardly planned, which was both frustrating and amusing. There was virtually no signage or instructions on how to sample and vote. At one point, the organizer, a harried-looking man toting a megaphone, asked for volunteers to help set up the stage and sound equipment for the awards portion of the event.
The judges ended up picking the hojicha ice cream as their first place winner. I wasn’t a fan of the granita topping, but kudos to those guys for getting creative. The popular vote ended up with the mojito ice cream on top—another creative flavor, in that it was cornstarch-based and came with a tiny wedge of lime.
Props to all the home cooks that entered. I walked away feeling inspired to try making ice cream at home. Maybe next time at this event, it’ll be as a competitor!