Screaming for ice cream at New Amsterdam Market

Robert La Valva, founder of the New Amsterdam Market, with City Council Member Margaret Chin at the market’s Ice Cream Sunday on Aug. 21. Downtown Express photos by Terese Loeb Kreuzer

BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | Sunday, Aug. 21 was “Ice Cream Sunday” at the New Amsterdam Market on South Street at Peck Slip with 10 ice cream wizards showing what one can do with ice cream and gelato from fresh, local ingredients. The standard supermarket product bears no resemblance. Around 500 people paid $25 each to attend the event — a fundraiser for the market. This bought them 10 tickets good for mini-cones of flavors such as chocolate cipollini, boozy apple caramel, herbal blend, buttermilk with chocolate espresso cookies, roasted beet with goat cheese and lemon basil, red raspberry plum and buffalo milk.

Sophia Brittan, chef of Victory Garden NYC at 31 Carmine St., had a stall at New Amsterdam Market’s Ice Cream Sunday. Victory Garden, which opened on June 3, serves locally sourced goat’s milk ice cream.A

Kathy Hubler, who comes from Indiana, where she thinks “the best corn in the country is grown,” tried the sweet corn gelato from Mario Batali and Joe Bastianich’s pizzeria, Otto Enoteca, at 1 Fifth Ave. Meredith Kurtzman, who was serving cones at the market, developed the restaurant’s gelato-based dessert program. “It was fantastic,” Hubler said of the sweet corn gelato. “It had all the beautiful flavors of the sweet corn. I could eat it all day.”

Jason Evege favored strawberry ricotta from Steve’s, which has stores at 4 E. 42nd St. in Manhattan and at 420 Atlantic Ave. in Brooklyn. “The strawberry ricotta is out of this world,” said Evege. “Not only is the flavor good, but the texture.”

The milk and cream for Steve’s comes from Hudson Valley Fresh, a farmer-owned dairy cooperative in Upstate New York. The ricotta cheese for the ice cream is made by Salvatore Brooklyn. Forbes Fisher, president of Steve’s, said, “A lot of our partners work in Brooklyn and a lot of the inspiration for our flavors comes from there.” He mentioned Liddabit Sweets, Kombucha Brooklyn and Ovenly, whose products are used in Steve’s ice cream.

A panel of judges with impressive food credentials were charged with picking a winner based on creativity and the successful use of local flavors. Anne Saxelby of Saxelby Cheesemongers, Gabrielle Langholtz, editor of Edible Manhattan, and Jeffrey Steingarten, food critic for Vogue, awarded the prize (just bragging rights, no money) to Early Bird Cookery from Cochecton, Sullivan County, for its hay ice cream.

“It was a very difficult decision,” said Langholtz. “There were so many fantastic flavors here today. But since one of the considerations was use of local ingredients, what could be more evocative of summer on a farm than hay? Hay just brought me to a whole new level of consciousness about what ice cream could be.”

Robert LaValva, founder of the New Amsterdam Market, said he had mixed feelings about the judging. “We’re not really interested in creating a competitive environment at the market,” he said. “The judging was more to recognize who had stretched the limits of creating a local flavor and that, we felt, was a way to inspire everyone’s creativity — because really that’s what this market is about.”

Ice Cream Sunday brought many people to the market who had not previously known about it or visited. “We distributed a total of 4,000 mini-cones,” said La Valva. “Close to 2,500 people attended the market.” He said that the event raised about $6,000 to help underwrite the market’s rent and other expenses.

Jason Evege and Justin Schier said they came to the Seaport just for the ice cream festival, which they learned about from “a foodie friend.”

LaValva was optimistic about the market’s future. “We have every intention of remaining here through the end of the year and being here next year,” he said. “It’s obviously very challenging at the moment because there is so much construction but we’ve also found really wonderful cooperation among the agencies. We would have liked to use more of the parking lot [for the market], but we’ve shown we can make it happen in a smaller footprint. The New Amsterdam Market is clearly becoming a Lower Manhattan institution, really beloved by the people who live in Lower Manhattan and supported by all the elected officials. We see no reason why it won’t continue.”

LaValva said that there had been an average of 40 vendors each Sunday during the summer, and that in the fall, he expected to have between 45 and 50 vendors each week.