As temperatures last week shot into the 90s and the humidity gave the air the consistency of soup, the last thing on most New Yorkers minds was shoveling hot food into their mouths.
“We just had our longest heat wave of the year, so people are inspired to beat the heat,” said Wylie Dufresne, the chef at WD-50, the Lower East Side restaurant famous for innovative cooking techniques that have included
deep-freezing grapes and shaving frozen fish and avocado onto plates.
And while avoiding hot foods in the summer is nothing new—“These days for every ice cream flavor you can think of, you can find an ice cream flavor [that also existed] 300 years ago,” noted Dufresne— in kitchens all over town, dishes that are usually served steaming hot are now getting the deep freeze, making going out to eat in this scorching weather just a bit cooler.
Frozen S’mores at Olana
At only 21 years old, Olana pastry chef Katie Rosenhouse has cool cooking down pat. Rosenhouse, a graduate of the French Culinary Institute, began working in the kitchen at Olana (72 Madison Ave., at 27th St., 212-725-4900) in February when the French- and Italian-tinged restaurant opened, and has since introduced chilly treats like a triple-chocolate sundae, a vodka-spiked grapefruit parfait with coconut sorbet and, the newest of the bunch, the Frozen S’mores, which landed on the menu just this week.
The dessert is composed of a chilly graham cracker semi-freddo—whipped egg yolk with whipped cream that creates a mousse-like texture—and comes topped with a thick chocolate cracker, shredded puff pastry, pistachio paste and is accompanied by torched marshmallow fluff.
“I was looking to make something that mimics comfort food,” said Rosenhouse, “while elevating the s’more. There’s always a way to make the familiar more interesting.”
And frozen s’mores are just as good around an air conditioner as the original is around a campfire.
Wine Cellar Sorbet
If you don’t want to head down to a high-end restaurant for a tasty summer treat, restaurants like Geisha (33 E. 61st St., at Madison Ave., 212-813-1113) and grocery stores like Garden of Eden (7 E. 14th St., at 5th Ave., 212-255-4200) carry Wine Cellar Sorbet, a boozy frozen concoction made in Greenpoint by David Zablocki and Brett Birnbaum.
Though the pints sit nestled between Ciao Bella and Ben & Jerry’s, to buy this frosty treat, you’ve gotta be at least 21. While the ices—which come in flavors like Reisling, Pinot Noir and Champagne—boast up to 5 percent alcohol by volume, they shouldn’t be mistaken for solid booze. Still, splashing a scoop into a glass of champagne or making a wine-infused smoothie does promise to take the edge off of a hot summer night.
Zablocki, who calls himself the world’s first sorbet sommelier, constantly tastes wines to find the best batch for each year’s selection of sorbets since, like wine, no year is the same for sorbet. Just last week he was testing products to replace the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon currently in production. And while wine sorbet is historically a palette cleanser for in-between courses at highfalutin restaurants, the response to the commercialization of the idea has been a huge success. “The consumer is ready for small luxuries,” said Zablocki. We say drop a scoop into a glass of real booze and double-fist it the classy way!
Cold Pizza at Morimoto
Cold pizza has always been a secret indulgence, eaten late at night when the munchies strike (and strike and strike) or in the morning when there’s nothing else in the fridge. But at the warehouse-sized Morimoto (88 10th Ave., at W. 16th St., 212-989-8883), the Masaharu Morimoto- helmed Japanese joint underneath the High Line, Cold Pizza is now haute cuisine.
Served chilly on a tortilla laden with sushi-grade tuna and an eel-sauce base, and blending Eastern technique with Western sensibilities, Morimoto sprinkles the pizza with jalapenos, onions, olives, anchovy aioli and red onions. It might not be a leftover vodka slice from Pomodoro’s, but it’ll certainly do the trick.
Frozen Hot Chocolate at Jacques Torres
Jacques Torres, New York’s very own Willy Wonka, has brought his much-celebrated hot chocolate drinks onto the summer menu, chilled to sweeten the days when your shoes stick to the asphalt. Real cocoa is smoothed in the Frozen Hot Chocolate, and spiced with ancho chile in the “Wicked” Frozen Hot Chocolate served at Torres’ stores, including his downtown shop (350 Hudson St. at King St., 212-414-2462) and Brooklyn outpost (66 Water St. at Main St., Dumbo, 718-875-9772).
“If something is good and works, I don’t want to change that,” said the charming chocolatier. “The hot chocolate became so popular, though, that I realized I had to give people something for the summer.”
Currently the milkshake-like drink is available in six flavors, including peanut butter and banana, and next week Torres will introduce another summery flavor: coconut.
“I’ve taken shredded coconut and ground it into a paste and added it to the chocolate,” he explained. “Everything is natural, and I choose everything. If I have to buy a flavoring, I will not make it.”