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N2 Extreme Gelato, Sydney

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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.

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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.

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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’!

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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.

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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.