I really really wanted to like Blue Marble. Really I did. It’s co-owned by Alexis Miesen and Jennifer Dundas, two friends who had a dream of making ice cream. Dundas is a working New York stage actress and we have mutual friends, so I had a particular interest in her story and her product.

The name is a reference to the earth itself and Blue Marble really concentrates on maintaining a green and eco-friendly business. The cups are recyclable, the electricity is renewable, even the walls are painted with a special paint alternative that uses natural clay. I felt bad walking into the store wearing a non-organic cotton T-shirt.

And I haven’t even mentioned the edibles yet. Of course, all the ice cream is organic. The cream comes from grass-fed cows, the ingredients are local, and the flavors are all natural. One thing that I don’t like is that all their ice cream is made on a farm in the Hudson Valley. This is something I will see time and time again on this ice cream journey. Very few of these spots make their ice cream in house. And a lot of the ice cream shop owners are businessmen first and ice cream churners not at all. And this is part of the problem with Blue Marble. They seem to concentrate more on doing good for the earth and the community and somewhere along the way, they forgot to make good ice cream.

Now I’m sure I’ll get killed for these opinions. Since they opened in 2007, they’ve gotten lots of press and praise and have become Brooklyn’s go-to neighborhood ice cream shop. The original location is on Atlantic Avenue in Boerum Hill, complete with a back patio and a children play area. The shop became such a success that two more locations sprouted up: a Prospect Heights store and a Cobble Hill kiosk. You can also find Blue Marble ice cream at Brooklyn Flea and on Governor’s Island. So you can imagine somebody’s enjoying this ice cream.

I guess I just don’t get it. I visited the Prospect Heights location a few years back.  I even wrote about it on my old ice cream blog.  But I’ll save you the frustration and me the embarrassment of having to read that poorly written review by summing my first impressions up right here. I was surprised to find the ice cream to be reminiscent of silly putty. The chewy texture wasn’t the only downfall – the flavors were rather flat and artificial. But that was all in the past, right?

I was eager to give Blue Marble a second chance and to erase that bitter taste I had in my mouth. It was late on a Saturday night and although they were getting ready to close, there was still a line out the door. Who are these people and do they really not have good taste in ice cream? Or are they just far less critical than I?

The first flavor I tasted was root beer. Who doesn’t love some sassafaras in the summer? And as a creamy ice cream, it’s reminiscent of an ice cream float. Except while the root beer flavors were strong, the texture was rather gummy. I also sampled the banana, which tasted strangely of medicine. And the strawberry (which had a fancy name which included the word tart) was devoid of any sort of sweetness.

The two flavors I settled on in my waffle cone were rum raisin and that old standby cookies and cream. I should have re-read my old blog review first to jog my memory. The rum raisin (one of my favorites, but rarely done well) was one of my disappointments the first time around and this one proved not much better. The raisins were barely noticeable (Two Scoops this is not!) and the rum flavor (when present) tasted of rum extract. I know alcohol is a hard flavor to incorporate into ice cream (due to the expense and the difficulty with freezing the alcohol), but when you’re going to tout all natural ingredients and fresh, local products, I’d expect more than a concentrated liquid flavor.

The cookies and cream was a bit bland but suffered more from texture problems. It was icy! I actually crunched on an ice crystal. The secret to creamy, smooth ice cream is to inhibit the growth of ice crystals. I think somebody needs to tell Blue Marble the secret. Because it seems they do everything right except (in my mind) the most important thing of all: sell good ice cream.

Is Blue Marble the best ice cream in NY? Unfortunately, not by a long shot. I hate to leave negative reviews to a company that does so much good for the community and the earth, but I just can’t get behind their mediocre product. 5 out of 10.

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Category: Ice Cream

About the Author

Brian Hoffman is a classically trained actor who is now a full-time tour guide, blogger, and food obsessive. He leads food and drink tours around New York City, which not only introduce tour-goers to delicious food, but gives them a historical context. He also writes food articles for Gothamist and Midtown Lunch in addition to overseeing this blog and a few food video series, including Eat This, Locals Know, and Around the World in One City.

5 Responses to CHURN, CHURN, CHURN! (Blue Marble)

  1. Great review! I was *so* happy to see you point out that there is a difference between ice cream that is made on site vs. ice cream that is brought in on a truck. The texture really can suffer when it is trucked in. (Hello! Ice crystals!)

    As for the gummy texture? Hmmm, I wonder if the culprit is in the makeup or an ingredient like xanthan gum–which can lend some creaminess but I always detect as an odd texture in ice cream.

    I’d also point out that it looks like you lost the beard. However, I don’t want to be your creepy blog reader. 😉

  2. Brian Hoffman says:

    Based on their advertising though, I’d be surprised if they used xanthan gum. I’m thinking they may have over-churned the ice cream. Or aren’t being completely truthful in their no additive policy.

    And thanks for noticing the lack of beard and for being a creepy blog reader! 😉

  3. After thinking about it (two seconds after I posted), I’d agree; xanthan gum probably wasn’t in this ice cream. Since it is a “natural” ingredient, it does show up in foods that you wouldn’t expect. Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the stuff. Gluten-free baking wouldn’t be very different without it. However, in ice cream? Meh.

  4. Let’s pretend that said, “Gluten-free baking WOULD be very different without.” Oy! It’s Friday and I need to step away from the computer.

    Enjoy the weekend!

  5. Sam Shyne says:

    I was just in Blue Marble yesterday with a friend and was complaining about the “gummy-ness” of their ice cream. I even asked one of the woman working there what gave it that gummy texture. She suggested that it might have something to do with specific flavor’s sweet ingredient, but I’ve had this experience even with their vanilla. I appreciate their eco-consciousness, but agree with you – make good ice cream! Strange that you wrote this review only two days before I did a google seach on “Blue Marble gummy” to see if anyone else had had the same experience I had.

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