Sweet Tooth: Luca & Bosco Ice Cream

Honey Lavender Ricotta Luca And Bosco Ice Cream (32)

We had the pleasure of tasting Luca & Bosco Ice Cream earlier this month at the Harlem Helps Benefit in Ginny’s Supper Club.  With a unique flavor palate, Harlem- based Luca & Bosco Ice Cream has been captivating New Yorkers since its inception in 2012. We were able to catch up with Ruthie and Catherine, the founders of Luca & Bosco, to learn more about their sweet business.

How did you get your start in ice cream, and how was Luca & Bosco formed?

As two New Yorkers obsessed with food, we started the company as a fun passion project, working on it during nights and weekends in addition to our full-time jobs. After flirting with the idea of leaving our day jobs to work on the business full-time for over a year, we were both laid off last Spring. Given that we were working in two totally unrelated fields, and were given notice one week apart, we took it as a sign from the universe that it was time to take the leap and pursue the businesses full time. We opened our first (mini) retail location in the historic Essex Street Market in the Lower East Side in September of 2013 and are excited to be going into our first warm season.

You have a lot of inventive ice cream flavors! How do you come up with new flavors? You're based in the historic La Marqueta in East Harlem. Do you draw any inspiration from your location in Harlem?

We draw our inspiration from everything. New York City, with its many diverse and multicultural neighborhoods, traditions, foods and restaurants is a place that never ceases to inspire our palates. The City has truly nurtured our exploration of different foods, ingredients, and flavors… and Harlem is no exception. We’ve played a lot with Piloncillo or Panela (a type of unrefined sugar that tastes similar to brown sugar that’s very common in Central and South America) and can be found in so many East Harlem bodegas. We also have played with different versions of banana and coconut ice creams which are again ingredients that are very commonly found in East Harlem with it’s large Latin and Caribbean populations.

What are your most popular flavors, and have you been surprised by the demand for any flavors?

We have definitely been surprised (and excited) by how popular some of our more unusual, or less traditional flavors have become. Our most popular flavors are Drunk & Salty Caramel, Honey Lavender, Whiskey Fudge Rebellion and Goat Cheese. Other flavors, like Rosemary Olive Oil and Double Cinnamon also seem to be growing quite a cult following. We set out to bring deliciousness to people’s lives one scoop at a time, and hoped they’d be willing to really explore different flavors in offerings that are less traditional/commonplace, and we’re so excited that our customers have really embraced it! Though we make a killer vanilla bean ice cream, we’re glad our regular customers are choosing our more unique signature flavors.

Have you encountered any challenges since beginning in 2012, and what lessons have you taken away from them?

Financing, financing, financing! Our biggest hurdle has been how intensely expensive it is to start a brick and mortar business in New York City (a City that commands some of the highest rents out there!). Additionally, we’ve learned that it’s really hard to come across good financing when you’re a startup without a proven track record. What this reality has taught us though is to be very nimble, creative, and adaptive, always adjusting course to the possible. For example, we currently produce out of a kitchen incubator program (a shared commercial kitchen in Harlem), and we raised the money for our first batch freezer (ice cream machine) on Kickstarter (a crowd sourcing fundraising site).

What are your plans moving forward?

We're working on building our brand and expanding our business. In order to do that we need more space and to move into our own kitchen, and once that happens we’re planning to launch a wholesale presence at supermarkets and restaurants. We're also so excited to go into our first warm season at our retail location; the polar vortex was harsh on our new, seasonal business!,We're looking forward to being busy enough to hire employees, as the idea of creating something and creating employment opportunities for others was part of the real draw for us to start our own business.


As an added bonus, check out Luca &Bosco's recipe for a Coconut Cinnamon Banana Sundae here: http://www.marcussamuelsson.com/recipe/luca-boscos-coconut-cinnamon-bananas-sundae

What is Brain Freeze?

Rooster Punch Popsicle With the summer heat here to stay, brain freeze is something we will come into contact with more often. But what really happens? Surely your brain isn't actually freezing... or is it? With an ice cream cone in hand (mint chocolate chip, of course), and these questions on the brain, I thought I'd do a bit of research to find out what really goes on when the freeze hits.

As most of you know, brain freeze or "ice-cream headache" occurs when a cold stimulus such as ice cream, popsicle or frozen beverage is consumed too quickly causing a painful headache lasting about 20-30 seconds. But why does this occur?

The trigeminal nerve, shown in yellow.

To get all scientific on you: sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia (don't worry, we can't pronounce it either) which means the nerve pain of the sphenopalatine gangliori (or simply brain freeze), occurs from the dilation of the capillaries in the sinuses. This is the body's way of trying to bring blood back to that area of the mouth or throat that was shocked by the cold substance in order to bring it back to its normal temperature.

Why do you feel it in your forehead?

This instant freezing of the mouth and thus dilation of the capillaries also triggers pain receptors in the trigeminal nerve that alert the brain of facial discomfort, connecting it to the forehead. That's why, after about 10 seconds, what is called deferred pain, in the forehead and temples occurs making you feel as though you've "frozen your brain".

So how do you get rid of it or avoid it from happening at all?

Some doctors suggest that by applying your tongue to the roof of your mouth and thus rewarming the area, the capillaries will release quicker giving you more instant relief. Another option is to slow down and savor that frosty treat, making it less likely for the whole song and dance to occur at all.

wild blueberry frozen yogurt

Here are some frosty treats to enjoy* this summer:

For more stories from Ashley Beck, click here.

*Please enjoy responsibly. Your sinus capillaries will thank you. 

7 Frozen Treats to Try This Weekend

Ice Cream_Gelato_Sorbet I like eating ice cream in the springtime, before the heat of summer turns my favorite dessert into a cooling means of survival. I use the term loosely when more than a number of cold, sweet and refreshing confections satisfy my craving.  Dairy-free? Bring it on. Double-churned? Even better.

These temperate and sunny days beg to be celebrated and I can’t think of a more celebratory snack than one of these frozen delights.

Ice Cream: (These classics do require an ice cream maker, but any model does the trick)

Frozen Yogurt and Sorbet: 

Coconut Milk Base:

Banana Base:

Sweet Treats for National Ice Cream Sandwich Day

Time to change up your lunch order! Turkey and whole wheat is the "smart" choice, sure, but it’s National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, and do you really want to be the stick-in-the-mud who doesn’t celebrate? We plan to embrace the holiday like toddlers on Christmas.

While the classic Good Humor version—rectangular, mushy chocolate wafers, meh vanilla ice cream—was nothing to rejoice about, the treat has come a long way. Humphrey Slocombe uses foie gras ice cream. Holey Cream uses doughnuts. Talk about thinking outside the cookie tray. Now ice cream sandwiches are all about creative combinations, so we’ve paired up a few favorite recipes for the festivities. (Of course, feel free to mix and match as you please. It’s hard to go wrong.) See below:

Ice Cream Socialization

In the dead heat of summer (yes, we have summer in Minnesota) there's nothing I like more than a little bit of ice cream. Of course, the preferred way is straight out of the carton, with little to no work involved. However, sometimes I get suckered out of going to the store by my sentimentality and instead head straight to the basement, where the storied Samuelson ice cream maker resides. It is old and wooden and very authentic. Don't get me wrong--there is nothing at all romantic about ice cream-making, yet maybe something kind of biblical about the whole process. 

You begin with the very basics, tucking the slender pillar into the ice, and pour the few ingredients into the bucket. Everything seems very, well, authentic and rustic and I start envisioning myself as a brave homesteader as I turn the near-rusty handle.

And turn.

And turn.

This is where the unromantic part starts. As the daughter of a chef, I've learned to do things the old fashioned way instead of relying on a fancy ice cream maker to do the job for me. All this turning without any result is making me lose my mind. Even when we are at my grandma's house on a steamy 4th of July, and everyone in my sizable family is taking turns, there's always a point where I start to lose hope and believe that maybe the cylinder can't be resurrected from its icy tomb. Will we have to sit out here without the reward of cold, sweet cream?

Yet, suddenly my grandma stops cranking the handle to pull out the cylinder. And what would you know? Out comes out a spoonful of that glorious ice cream that makes all that work a distant memory. Of course, at my grandmother's house, everyone only gets about a teaspoon because there are that many of us, but it's so worth it, which makes me reconsider how romantic making ice cream the old fashioned way really is. Back in Iowa where my ancestors lived on those hot, lonely farms, they worked so hard to make a little something sweet and cold, that I begin to realize what it's all about--good things are worth the effort if done with care, sentimentality and patience. For the recipe for my dad's perfect vanilla gelato, click here.

Evie Samuelson (no relation to Marcus except for a love of cooking and food) is a 14-year-old student born and raised in Minneapolis. Her father, a chef, taught her how to appreciate the sights and sounds of the kitchen, though he sometimes had to have some attitude about it.