Once upon a time, in the magical town of Hudson, there was an ice cream shop that created perfectly creamy ice cream made entirely from local ingredients. That time is now, and that place is New City Microcreamery.
“This is not your typical scoop shop; it’s more like a spa for your belly,” said Karim El-Gamal, one of the three creative directors and owners of the new store. El-Gamal and his partners – Michael Kasseris and Jason Kleinerman – also own the wildly successful Rail Trail Flatbread Company across the street.
“Of all the states, Massachusetts is one of the highest per-capita consumers of ice cream,” Kasseris said. “We wanted to make good quality, local ice cream.”
According to El-Gamal, New City, which was Hudson’s nickname in the 1800s, is the only place in the world that uses liquid nitrogen to freeze large batches of ice cream (some shops use this technique for individual orders). He would know, as he and his partners spent two years investigating and traveling the world in search of the best ice cream-making method for their venture.
“We went all over the place,” said Kasseris, who visited Ohio, Portland (Maine and Oregon), L.A., San Francisco, Greece, London and Montreal. “We settled on liquid nitrogen because you can manipulate the mixture based on the flavor, unlike the straight blend everyone uses,” he said. “We feel that, for us, it makes the best ice cream.”
While most ice creams are frozen between 32 and -25 degrees Fahrenheit, liquid nitrogen flash freezes the ice cream. The liquid nitrogen, which is non-toxic and odor-free, allows for a smoother feel and instantly captures freshness and enhances the flavors. After the scratch ice cream base has steeped in its flavor for 24 hours, New City pours it into the mixer (a modified Hobart dough mixer) and slowly introduces the liquid nitrogen, which is colder than -300 degrees Fahrenheit. Customers can watch the entire process, as the microcreamery has an open-kitchen layout.
“What makes it good isn’t the liquid nitrogen,” El-Gamal said. “It’s in the details.”
From the ice cream (the vanilla flavoring comes from Madagascar vanilla beans rather than a basic vanilla extract) to the décor (the seating is made of restored bleachers and chairs from local schools), the details are indeed what make New City great.
“We like to have fun in the kitchen,” said Kasseris, of New City’s menu of unique flavors, which changes daily based on seasonal ingredients. However, the owners give most of the credit to Executive Chef Thomas Edward Kepner and Executive Pastry Chef Elaine Stella.
“Tom brings the X Factor; he’s an assassin in the kitchen,” Kleinerman said. “And Elaine spent 20 years as a fine pastry chef. We combined the sophistication of a pastry chef and the hard metal guy, and we got some magic.”
Magic is the taste of Popcorn (kettle corn is steeped in the base, then strained), Hibiscus Cabernet, Bourbon Vanilla or classic Mint Chocolate Chip on your tongue. Customers can also enjoy homemade waffle cones, an array of tasty treats and a gourmet coffee bar. There’s something for everyone, just as El-Gamal, Kasseris and Kleinerman dreamed there would be.
New City went through about 400 gallons of milk and cream – locally sourced from Mapleline Farm in Hadley – during opening week in May, and the guys think it might become the average churn-out. However, once word gets out that the perfect ice cream exists in the heart of Hudson, they might need a lot more than that to keep the inevitable droves of ice cream lovers satisfied.
Visit newcitymicrocreamery.com for more information.
By Kimberly Dunbar