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Goat Milk Soft Serve at Victory Garden

Accompanying photos here: http://www.girleatscity.com/2011/07/v...

I just discovered the most delicious frozen treat in all of NYC: goat milk soft serve! In a neighborhood that's as riddled with frozen treats vendors as Boston is with Dunkin' Donuts, West Villagers now have Victory Garden, a fabulous one-month-old newcomer selling the most delicious soft ice cream imaginable, made out of organic goat milk from Beltane Farm in Lebanon, Connecticut.

I'm no fan of soft serve, ordinarily. I associate it with IKEA's creepily Crisco-like concoction and it's seldom as delicious to me as "real" ice cream or gelato. But goat milk soft serve is a whole 'nother animal. The goat milk adds a lovely, tangy qualty that's just slightly funky in a good way.

On a detour while running errands, recently, I tried Victory Garden's salted caramel flavor. There were three other flavors available that day, including Chocolate Victory, Orange Blossom Vanilla, and Victory Garden Hotel Blend. Salted caramel was a clever way to celebrate the natural slight saltiness of goat milk and the concentrated caramel notes reminded me of cajeta.

The mouthfeel of the soft serve at Victory Garden deserves a note: It's creamy and naturally rich in a way I'd forgotten soft serve could be. Where other soft serves coat your tongue in a layer of something sticky that doesn't melt properly, Victory Garden's soft serve oozes richly over the tongue, touching every tastebud you own. Eating it for the first time must be akin to discovering real whipped cream for the first time after a lifetime of eating only Cool Whip. The difference is dramatic.

The vastly superior texture may have something to do with the shop's claim that it draws inspiration from "the tradition of Anatolian dondurma, a rich goat milk ice cream made with the root of the wild orchid", the same stuff that's used to make Turkish "chewy" ice creams. The texture of the soft serve was not quite like salep dondurma, but it was more substantial than usual.

On the day I went, there was no sign of dondurma available, though the store does sell goat milk yogurt parfaits, jars of ice cream toppings, handmade marshmallows and even goat-milk-derived soaps and moisturizers and Turkish beach towels.

Victory Garden touts its products as being nutritious, a good source of vitamins, protein, calcium and potassium. Prices are shockingly fair, given the quality of the ingredients and the serving size. A very large "mini" cup, about the same size as a medium or large cup at Love Gelato and Grom, is only $3; a regular sized cup is $4.50; and the large is $5.25. Toppings are available for $1 for the first, $1.75 for two, $0.75 for a sauce, and $1.50 for one topping and one sauce. (Presumably they cut you off at two toppings?) The selection included included a strawberry-rhubarb compote, various fresh fruits, house made marshmallows, halvah, pistachios and other nuts, cake crumbs, wheat germ, gummy worms and, yes of course, sprinkles. But as far as I'm concerned, there's nothing you can add to this soft serve to make it more delicious than it already is.

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Grom
233 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

Love Gelato
167 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014

Victory Garden
31 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

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  1. Thanks for the report! I keep walking by and meaning to try this place.

    1 Reply
    1. re: kathryn

      Thanks, kathryn. I'd been scoping this place for about a month, now, too, but finally had the excuse of needing keys duplicated down the street. I'm sure there's something you absolutely need right away from Unoppressive, Non-Imperialist Bargain Books or Murray's Cheese!

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      Murray's Cheese
      254 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

    2. I was so excited to read of this new soft-serve purveyor. The lady at the counter is an angel and I like their ideas, but in practice, the ice cream is a bit "goaty". They could have made a fortune making high end soft serve. I was ready to take my money there. Then I discovered the rub. It's made from goat milk. If you're doing specialty soft serve, it should blow away Dairy Queen or Carvel. This made me wish for Dairy Queen or Carvel. The goat milk is heavy on the tongue and kind of cloying. They DID have many interesting flavours, but all I could think was, "if only they'd done this NOT with goat's milk. I'm still bummed, as it's seldom a place opens that at first blush appears to be ready to cater to your demand for an improved version of something you love. Maybe they could keep the goat milk stuff but do some with regular milk.

      3 Replies
      1. re: sing me a bar

        Have you tried the vanilla soft serve at Chikalicious Dessert Club or the one at Takashi? I am thinking those might be more to your preferences.

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        Dessert Club, ChikaLicious
        204 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003

        Takashi
        456 Hudson St, New York, NY 10011

        1. re: sing me a bar

          I can see how this place would be disappointing if you walked in there wanting something like Dairy Queen or Carvel. Probably, it's a pre-requisite that you like goat milk in the first place. I eat a lot of goat milk cheeses and, when I'm feeling plush, Laloo's ice cream, so clearly I like the flavor. It's no sin if it's just not to your taste, though.

          1. re: michelleats

            It's not that I think DQ or Carvel are the ne plus ultra of soft serve, I was hoping for a step up from them, a kind of "ultimate expensive soft serve", since the prices at VG are a bit intense. The only patronizing I've ever done of Shake Shack was a cone of their custard, since that line was no waiting. It was pretty close to what I'd hoped VG would be putting out.

        2. Visit Epicure Boulud. They have goat milk sorbet that my wife said was incredible.

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          Epicerie Boulud
          1900 Broadway, New York, NY 10023

          6 Replies
          1. re: roro1831

            Thanks for the tip -- goat milk sorbet sounds delicious!

            I didn't see the goat milk sorbet at the store a few evenings ago, when I just poked my nose in, but it's entirely possible I just missed it.

            (I love their website music, by the way: http://www.danielnyc.com/epicerie.html)

            1. re: michelleats

              Another thing to try if you like goat cheese twists on normal desserts is the Dessert Truck's Goat Cheesecake, which is awesome.

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              Dessert Truck
              , New York, NY 10003

              1. re: InfoMofo

                That does sound awesome. I've only had savory goat cheesecakes, never sweet.

                1. re: michelleats

                  The DT goat cheesecake is fantastic, and does have a touch of savory, as it comes with rosemary-infused caramel. Thanks for posting on Victory Garden, have been wanting to try it ever since I heard it was opening up! Will have to also find an excuse to head in that direction.

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                  Victory Garden
                  31 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

                  1. re: orthorunner

                    "The DT goat cheesecake is fantastic, and does have a touch of savory, as it comes with rosemary-infused caramel."

                    Wow. That pushes all the buttons that make my saliva glands go.

                    I just realized DT now has a storefront on Clinton St., too, so I won't have to chase after the truck to find it.

                    Thanks!

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                    Dessert Truck Works
                    6 Clinton St, New York, NY 10002

                    1. re: michelleats

                      My husband is a huge fan of goat milk (Laloo's vanilla is his crack) and he didn't care for DTWorks' goat cheesecake much. I stole a bite, wasn't very impressed - but I suppose as a goat milk fan, it's worth a try. IMO one of best goat milk desserts is still Arctic Circle @ Aquavit (oldie but goodie and all that.)

                      Thank you for posting this review, BTW - I've been meaning to bring my husband there since I read about it on NYmag. We're so there on his next day off.

          2. I went on their opening night and was extremely underwhelmed. I loved the tang of the goat milk, but the yogurt was icey (not smooth at all) and I thought the prices were exorbitant given the sizes. Perhaps the sizes have increased?

            Regardless, it was like $11 for two people, whereas I can get a to-go container at Grom for $8 that is much, much more product.

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            Grom
            233 Bleecker St, New York, NY 10014

            11 Replies
            1. re: loratliff

              Did you try the yogurt or the soft serve? I had a very different experience with the soft serve's texture: mine was not just creamy, it was *lusciously* creamy and maybe one of the best parts of the experience. I didn't try their yogurt parfaits, though.

              I do wonder if sizes have increased. I read someone else's review online that complained about the prices for the portion size, too, so you're not alone. In my case, though, my eyes actually popped a bit when the counterwoman handed me my "mini". My instinct for self preservation / health really doesn't kick in all that often, but I actually thought to myself: "Boy, I shouldn't eat all that." It was so good, I ate it all, anyway, of course.

              In any event, I think this may call for further "research" on both our parts. If you try it again, I hope you report back. I'll try to, as well, especially if anything changes about my experience. Among other reasons why I want to return: I read a NYT blurb about how they say they're serving Turkish ice cream. I want to try that if it ever (re?)appears on the menu.

              1. re: michelleats

                They don't seem to post it on the menu. But if you go there and ask for it, they have it. Or at least they did when I went.

                1. re: vegivore

                  Seriously? I'd better go check this out. Wonder why they don't advertise dondurma. I did notice some pre-packed cartons of something in the freezer or fridge to the left when you walk in. Wonder if that could've been it.

                  Thanks for the tip!

                2. re: michelleats

                  It was definitely the soft serve from the machine. Like I said, it was the first night they opened and those Taylor machines are notorious for producing ice crystals if they run too cold, so perhaps they've fixed the issue since then.

                  That's interesting about the sizing, as my reaction was the exact opposite. "That's it?!" I live just one street over, so maybe I'll return tonight and see if they are, in fact, bigger—or if I'm just a glutton. ;) (Quite possible.)

                  Another West Village sweet stop, if you're in the area often: Imperial Woodpecker Sno-Balls. Absolutely love the shop and the flavors.

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                  Imperial Woodpecker Sno-balls
                  145 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014

                  1. re: loratliff

                    Okay, curiosity killed the cat and I returned to VG just now. Much, much better than before.

                    I don't know if they increased portions or lowered prices, but whatever they did, I now agree that it's a better value than any of the gelato places around. I got a large goat milk with sour cherries—very tasty and not "gritty" like the first night I stopped in.

                    Thanks for encouraging me to return!

                    1. re: loratliff

                      I think I could probably out-glutton you any day. :)

                      I'm so glad you liked VG better this time! Any sign of Turkish ice cream?

                      Re: Imperial Woodpcker.... Gosh, I hate to be so contrarian, but I have been to IW a few times and I think I have finally admitted to myself that I really just don't like it. I like the texture of the snoballs, but the flavors are so artificial and gooey sweet that I can't enjoy the dessert. I'm really not some hardcore organic / natural / healthy foods only kind of gal at all, but to me, Imperial Woodpecker's flavors are off-putting.

                      Also... if we're on the subject of relative value. A box of ice with sugar syrup at Imperial Woodpecker is $4. A pretty substantial "mini" serving of the much-more-delicious-to-me goat milk soft serve is only $3!

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                      Imperial Woodpecker Sno-balls
                      145 7th Ave S, New York, NY 10014

                      1. re: michelleats

                        "the flavors are so artificial and gooey sweet that I can't enjoy the dessert."

                        Completely accurate. I love the concept, and thrilled I could get a New Orleans sno ball in NYC, but this wasn't it. I had a bad feeling with flavors like Tigers Blood, or Key Lime Pie, I really was relieved to finish my small size, and contemplated dumping it halfway through when it dawned on me I wasn't actually enjoying the taste.

                        1. re: michelleats

                          Nope, no Turkish ice cream. From stalking their Facebook page, it looks like they've sold out of it every time.

                          As far as IW, perhaps you have to be from the South to "get it"? I'm originally from Texas (the owner is from Louisiana) and an artificially-flavored Tigers Blood was a summertime treat. Those flavors are part of sno-balls, in my opinion, and as much as I love all-natural, organic, etc., etc., a sno-ball is only good if it's fluorescent. ;)

                          1. re: loratliff

                            These tasted nothing like the real snoballs I've had in the South which weren't made with generic synthetic tasting syrups.

                            1. re: sugartoof

                              What do you think Tigers Blood and Key Lime Pie are? I've never seen a sno-ball booth without those two flavors and I guarantee you that I've also never seen someone in the back squeezing Key limes.

                              1. re: loratliff

                                There's still some shops making syrups in New Orleans. Here's one: http://www.snobliz.com/ Are you sure nobody does it in Texas?

                                You can often tell by the selection how good it's going to be. The ones that make novelty flavors are really creative and extensive...and they know how to balance the pour so it's equally distributed to bring out the flavor without being sickly sweet.

                3. after seeing several comments about the high prices i feel compelled to point out that goat's milk is far more expensive than cow's milk...so of course yogurt made with goat's milk will cost more than the standard cow's milk soft-serve.

                  sigh. i wish they would open one out here in LA! i adore all goat dairy products, and would gladly pay a premium for goat's milk soft serve...

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    It's not soft serve, but I read a very positive blurb somewhere about goat milk ice cream at Delicieuse in Redondo Beach a little while ago.

                    And a place called Leo Bulgarini evidently serves "petting-zoo [goat milk] gelato, gelato you can almost imagine nibbling on your sleeves". (http://blogs.laweekly.com/squidink/20...) I don't know how you could wrong with that. :)

                    1. re: michelleats

                      thanks :) Delicieuse is very much on my radar but i can never muster the motivation to drive down to RB for it. i always think it would be worth the extra $ to save myself the drive time & gas and just pick up a container of Laloo's...but of course i never do that because i don't want the entire container sitting in the freezer calling to me! and Bulgarini is a serious *schlep* from here.

                      plus, i much prefer soft serve. i REALLY want to try Victory Garden. next time i'm back in NYC to visit the family i'll need to head down there.

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                      Victory Garden
                      31 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Yes, that drive down is a massive PITA. I really wanted to try Delicieuse on my last trip to LA, but just getting around LA by car was nerve wracking enough. It really made me miss the NYC subway, summer ripened urine smells and all.

                        I'll do my best to keep Victory Garden open (read: eat at Victory Garden every day) until your next visit!

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                        Victory Garden
                        31 Carmine St, New York, NY 10014

                        1. re: michelleats

                          ha! that's very sweet of you...but i don't want to feel responsible if you can't fit into your clothes by the time i make it there ;)