New York Stories: ‘Sweet Spot’

Before I met up with Bukowski, my sweet tooth was acting up. Passing Ample Hills Creamery and not giving in was already understood to be a loss (for personal integrity) and a win (face it: it’s ice cream) at the same time. Anyone can cave, including those with the strongest of mental blocks.

Unadulterated ice cream is one of those treats — unless vegan, lactose intolerant, or both — that can take you back to those days of childhood, when having that (mainly) summer-associated treat meant that the day was especially a good day, accentuating personal wins or soothing times of despair.

It seemed easy, especially for the standard go-to shops: chocolate, vanilla, or twist. Sherbet was another option. Then things began getting fancy. Torches were popular, combining vanilla ice cream with raspberry or orange sherbet. There were the other places, Arctic Island and Gannon’s, who made homemade and better-than-the-store ice cream. As a kid, finding out you can get different flavors for each scoop of hard ice cream: ecstasy.

Ample Hills, a name that is adopted from a Walt Whitman poem, is one of those places where the small-batch ice cream is a parade of flavor. Going into the shop, there was an idea of what I wanted. The first flavor: Ooey Gooey Butter Cake, which does contain chewy and savory bits of the St. Louis delight. The second was a coffee kind — because coffee and I are best buds.

But while my eyes scrolled through the flavors, my mouth (thankfully) not close enough to fog the glass, a flavor caught my eye, which reminded me of the time Becky told me about it. It was something to abide to.

The guy behind the counter had this energy, which was conveyed as let’s order quickly. Since there was no other person in line, it wasn’t necessary, and clearly he had rally leadership experience — go, go, go!  I was rhyming uh more than ooey gooey. I was out of the line and paid in less than two minutes.

The Dude is a White Russian ice cream made with espresso, coffee liqueur, and vodka. It wasn’t too “White Russianny,” but it passed the flavor test immediately. Sometimes it’s difficult to find “your flavor” on the first taste, and it’s important to shop around and figure out what would satisfy the pangs the most. The flavor is definitely up there, but it cannot surpass the bits of Ooey Gooey Cake.


Don’t look at me like that, Dude. I was glowing.

So I scurried outside, holding onto the bowl of ice cream for dear life. I sat down at a table for two, and was about to feast. And at that moment someone decided to ask for directions.

As I was pointing the stranger to Prospect Place via Bing maps instead of  pointing with my finger that-a way, or putting to use Google Maps, which continually failed me — my eyes kept eyeballing the melting dessert. When I thought I explained the route: more questions. The lead-in and warning: I’m not from around here didn’t deter them.

My eyes were watching for drips from the side.

“This place looks good,” they said.

“It is, you should enjoy some for your walk,” I replied. If you’re already late, if that’s the case, you may as well get something along the way. They brushed the comment away, because my crappy directions are better than ice cream.

Luckily I made it back to the table less than a foot away from me and enjoyed the mid-day snack before venturing to Unnameable Books where — knowing I will have checked off three Brooklyn necessities in the same afternoon — the letters and knowledge and enticement blasted from books as if they were confetti cannons.

It was, this is an appropriate intermission.

“I too lived…”

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