How did you end up getting into the world of ice cream?
So many people have asked my husband Nick and I, “Why ice cream?” The short answer is, we didn’t have a sit-down scoop shop in all of Harlem, which is a pretty big neighborhood. We have a few Baskin Robbins stores, but no sit-down-get-to-know-someone-on-a-first-date places where you could eat ice cream and stay awhile. Nick’s background is in hospitality and mine is in museums, art education, and community engagement. With this business we brought our previous experiences together, found a storefront a block from our place, and the rest is history, as they say.
How do you find inspiration for flavors?
We specialize in making small-batch ice cream inspired by my Caribbean and African American background, Nick’s Midwestern upbringing, and Harlem, our home of 15+ years. Nick is the primary ice cream maker and I hold the title of “AMAZING and Honest Taste Tester,” which works out great for me because I love food. Our flavors are part spins on classics and part fun, seasonal options that also incorporate culture. One of Nick’s formulas for creating flavors is thinking about agricultural items that are germane to a particular geography or country and then folding in other agricultural items from the same region. He did this with one of our coffee flavors called Café Touba. He steeped cafe touba, which is spiced Senegalese coffee, in our ice cream base and folded in roasted peanut brittle. Coffee and peanuts are both Senegalese cash crops and the combination is unexpected and utterly delightful for all the coffee ice cream-loving people out there.
What is your favorite flavor of all time??
That is just too hard a question. Believe it or not, I still eat quite a bit of ice cream. I’m still not over it. My year around go-to is our dark chocolate sorbet, which is super, super creamy and not at all icy. Since we rotate our flavors seasonally, save five flavors, my all time spring favorite is honey lavender. It is heaven sent. And, during the fall we have a cinnamon ice cream that we make with Mike’s Hot Honey and it isn’t at all spicy in a polarizing way. In fact, it’s really hard for me not to eat it a pint at a time. I’d be remiss in not mentioning that our blueberry cheesecake flavor is a customer all-time favorite with our salted caramel and peach cobbler flavors as very near seconds in the ice cream flavor popularity contest. We also have a corn jalapeño hibiscus flavor during the summer that is unexpected and delicious. I don’t ever get vanilla at our shop because it’s vanilla, but it is a very good vanilla. Vanilla to ice cream shops is like chicken to a restaurant. If you do it well, you probably do a great job with the other menu items, too. That’s how I feel about our vanilla. On the favor barometer it says, “If you like this, try the other 11 flavors. You won’t be disappointed."
Any upcoming excitement for Sugar Hill Creamery that we should know about?!
During COVID, we opened a second location closer to our neighborhood namesake of Sugar Hill and a third location within the Time Out Market in DUMBO. We also started shipping our pints and one-of-a-kind blueberry ice cream cheesecake nationwide on Goldbelly. We started making the cheesecakes last fall and if you’re wondering how exactly they work, think: cheesecake made with a chewy and perfectly sweetened graham cracker crust that becomes the foundation for a smooth cheesecake ice cream layered with a fresh blueberry gelée. All of these developments have already happened, but they are still pretty exciting for us, parents to three kids eight and under who survived this crazy pandemic.