And, in the case of a brilliant ice cream truck downtown, we might have to use both definitions of the word gay. Now, of course, enjoying treats from The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck doesn’t necessarily make you gay, but for straight boys like me, it makes me feel like I’m missing out on all the fun.
Doug Quint is a classically trained bassoonist who invested in a soft serve ice cream truck and since he couldn’t decide on a name, he referred to it as his “Big Gay Ice Cream Truck.” And the name stuck. Why wouldn’t it? He dressed it up with rainbow colors but decided to swap out the rainbow sprinkles for something a little more unique. And while he does still offer the usual toppings, the main draw here is the surprising, low maintenance, high concept toppings. They turn the generic soft serve ice cream into a fabulous cone.
I’m not a huge fan of this sort of soft serve. I know I’m in the minority, considering how many soft serve trucks do so well across the country. I bet that annoying truck jingle is up there with Happy Birthday as the most recognizable songs. In fact, Big Gay now has their own theme song courtesy of Jane Wiedlin from the Go-Go’s (it’s available for download on Itunes). Sure the ice cream is creamy and rich, but I find that it lacks much natural flavor unless you count plastic as being natural. In my opinion, this stuff is only good when you cover it up with stuff. And Doug’s method of “covering up the ice cream” is culinary ingenuity at its best.
I don’t know if Doug has any formal culinary training, but he knows what tastes good and he’s figured out some awesome combinations. His most popular option is probably the Salty Pimp, which is a cone of vanilla soft serve, with dulce de leche, sea salt, and chocolate dip. He uses just the right ratio to make the very simple marriage of flavors work perfectly. Another truck speciality is the Bea Arthur – rich dulce de leche that is mellowed by crushed Nilla wafers. On the Cocone, yellow curried coconut flakes stick to the ice cream like wallpaper. The sweet, spiciness really improves on the blahness of the Mister Softee-type soft serve.
In addition to a rotating list of special combinations (which also at one time included an ice cream bacon sandwich), he has special ingredients he offers as toppings. Everything from wasabi peas to cardamom to pomegranate-infused balsamic syrup. He makes Pinkberry’s cereal toppings look like child’s play.
Doug himself is very personable and seems to really enjoy selling this stuff and putting smiles on people’s faces. Isn’t that what ice cream is all about – regardless of what you put on it? The only difficulty with this truck are its hours. Now that Doug has found his niche, I think he takes the day off whenever he wants to – a real perk of being your own employer. For example, the truck is hardly ever around on the weekends (unless it’s part of a big food event somewhere). Maybe that will change when he hires more employees. And I have a feeling come September or October, he will be taking a long vacation. And he certainly deserves it.
So because of the mobility and inconsistent hours, the best way to find The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck is to follow them on twitter. In addition to posting his times and locations (which are generally 17th Street and Broadway from 2-8), he also always has some witty banter to bestow about something. Recently, I felt his pain when young people were mispronouncing Bea Arthur.
Regardless of your sexuality (or size), you’ll have a blast choosing a sundae or cone and experiencing a new, fun way to enjoy that good old American standard. Big Gay Ice Cream Truck will make you feel like a little kid running after the ice cream truck. A very gay, happy little kid.
Is Big Gay Ice Cream Truck the best ice cream in NY? The ice cream itself is predictable and unexciting, but the brilliance here are all the extra goodies that make this 7 out of 10 something special.
|THE BIG GAY ICE CREAM TRUCK|
|Broadway and 17th Street