I’ve hated summer my whole life, dreading its arrival each year and distrusting everything about it, but over the last couple of years, be it cause I’m getting older and wiser or just having better summers, I’ve started to change my tune.
While I still hate, hate, haaaate the heat, the rest of summer isn’t so bad anymore. I like the energy and vibrancy, the feeling of something fun always being just around the corner, the spontaneity in the air, the relief of a cold drink, impromptu picnics, last minute rooftop gatherings, new friends, new loves, new opportunities.
I was walking down east Houston in the Lower East Side, mid conversation with a visiting friend, when we passed Russ & Daughters and a sign in the window that caught my eye: babka ice cream sandwiches! We were on our way to lunch somewhere else but just like that, something new had been thrown into the afternoon’s plans, and after a late lunch a few blocks away, we doubled back for dessert on the bench outside the iconic shop.
A friend introduced me to babka a few years ago and I’ve been a fan of the traditionally jewish loaf-like cake ever since. Sometimes cinnamon, sometimes chocolate, I love the flavored ribbons swirled throughout, making it delicious and fun to pull apart and gobble. And ice cream? Well, ours is a life long love affair.
Russ & Daughters not only used the babka, cut into circular pieces, as the top and bottom of this dessert sandwich, but also in the creamy, cinnamoney ice cream in between. Wrapped up in the same wax paper used for smoked salmon or pickled herring, the babka ice cream sandwich had all the old school charm of this famed NYC institution and a fun, new take on a classic treat.
Like so much of summer it seems, it was unexpected and sweet, a welcome break from the heat, and another fond memory stored away.