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.