Nicholas Morgenstern has been a pastry chef in fine-dining kitchens and he's run his own restaurants, but one particular gig early in his career made a deep impression. He was cooking at a place in San Francisco when he was entrusted with the ice cream machine. That sparked an enduring passion that he's pursued at Brooklyn's General Greene and now, Morgenstern's Finest, his two-week-old ice cream parlor on the Lower East Side.
Morgenstern is crafting modern ice cream in a retro fountain. His eggless base of milk, cream, and sugar is relatively light in butterfat, which makes the flavors shine. "The lower we can get the butterfat while still keeping that voluptuous texture, the better," Morgenstern told Grub Street. Ingredients and combinations are global and sometimes surprising (salt-and-pepper pine nut, Sichuan pepper chocolate, burnt honey vanilla, durian with banana).
The chef sees ample room for experimentation and refinement. "Ice cream has been overlooked by the food world," he told the Village Voice. "It's this thing that people love, yet it hasn't been given the same treatment that hamburgers, tacos, and ramen have been given by chefs. I'm really excited to be participating in that."
Morgenstern's Finest Ice Cream [Lower East Side]
2 Rivington Street (between Bowery and Chrystie Street), Manhattan
Photo by Alan Gastelum / Morgenstern's