A constantly changing menu must be a challenge to manage. But it’s sure way to keep your customers coming back for more when it’s gelato. Of course that means that each menu must be just as interesting as the previous. N₂ Extreme Gelato seems to have that worked out. The blackboard at the back of their store records every flavour they’ve ever invented. And every month or so, a new flavour will pop up on their website beckoning me to visit.
After lunch to farewell a colleague in June on the coldest day in seven months, a couple of us popped by for dessert. I get the Caramel Apple Toffee, an ‘apple pie gelato with crunchy apple pieces mixed through, given a caramel top, rolled in crushed peanuts and finished with a caramel syringe’. I’ve had apple pie ice cream before at Gelato Messina but the cinnamon was so in-my-face that it tasted terrible. The cinnamon here is subtle and pleasant. What makes this gelato amazing, though, are the generous number of deliciously crunchy apple pieces that give refreshing bursts of flavour, and as described. The syringe of caramel brings the gelato and the apple together, adding a creamy sweetness. And of course, nuts make everything tasty and there’s nothing like cracking a hard top.
I go back a couple of weeks later for the passionfruit meringue pie ($9). It’s a passionfruit gelato topped with crumble and a meringue top much like a deconstructed-reconstructed pie. The passionfruit gelato is creamy and made with real passionfruit pulp. The pulp disappears into the ice cream (rather than being pretty ribbons), but the seeds remain and give the gelato a pleasant crunch. The crumble was my favourite part of the ‘pie’ — together with the passionfruit seeds, it gave the gelato and meringue some much needed variety in texture. The meringue was sweet, which complemented nicely with the rather tart gelato. I’d have liked the meringue to be a tad more stiff (it collapsed into a blob after being piped on), but otherwise it was a very tasty ‘pie’!
And later on, it’s the Turkish apple tea gelato ($7). I love all things apple flavoured and especially Turkish apple tea, so this flavour had me curious. But in reality, it’s a rather ‘boring’ flavour because it tastes exactly like a gelato form of Turkish apple tea. There’s nothing exciting about it. It looks exactly like sludgy snow (or what snow looks like after a couple of days). Other than that, the texture is super smooth, which I’ve come to expect from liquid nitrogen sorbets. The first hit of the Turkish apple tea reminds me of its sour notes, but once you keep eating the flavour mellows out and I’m left wanting for a stronger flavour.
And finally, this black sesame creme brulee ($9) has got to be one of the ugliest flavours — it looks like a melted puddle of cola flavoured slushie. But the beauty of n2 is that you order using the descriptions and drawings on the chalkboard, and at the end of the day, really, who cares as long as it tastes good, right? Indeed, the bruleed top gave a satisfying crack (fun!), and was a tasty and crunchy novelty with the otherwise creamy gelato.
I’ve found that liquid nitrogen tends to create impossibly smooth textured gelato. If it’s a sorbet, it’s so devoid of crystals that it’s weird and makes me want more texture, like in the Turkish apple tea gelato. With a creamy gelato though, this smoothness elevates an already tasty flavour to something absolutely delicious. The lack of crystals makes the base super smooth so you’re more aware of the textures of the toppings, or in this case, the pleasant grit of the black sesame that you’d otherwise overlook amidst the crystals usually. Yum!
N2 Extreme Gelato is at 43/1 Dixon Street, Sydney NSW 2000.