You truly love ice cream when you are willing to make it with just a fork and a freezer. Sutheera Denprapa grew up in Bangkok eating ice cream to survive the hot, humid days. It was better than kneeling in front of the electric fan, nose-to-nose with the grill as the dusty blades whirred warm air into your face. (That’s what I did as a kid in the Philippines…obviously not as smart as little Sutheera.)
Men pushing ice cream carts through the streets would peddle sorbet-style “ice cream.” The only real ice cream was a coconut flavor, using fresh coconut milk. When Sutheera was 13-years-old she found a recipe for ice cream in a magazine, and painstakingly made it from scratch for the very first time: freeze the mixture and after two hours scrape and blend it with a fork, repeat…many times.
Luckily for Sutheera and her husband Jonathan Bayer, they now use a professional ice cream maker to produce small batches of Sky Ice Homemade Ice Cream. The ice cream is available at restaurants and retail shops as well as at Sky Ice Sweet & Savory in Brooklyn, which also serves delicious Northern Thai Cuisine.
Sky Ice Sweet & Savory is my kind of restaurant, where the desserts take up half of the menu. The ice cream takes center stage, and I notice two young women each order three large scoops of Thai Tea ice cream. Thai Tea is one of my favorite Sky Ice flavors along with the Mango and Lychee Rose sorbets. You can order the Sky Ice Palette to try 12 mini scoops of ice cream and sorbets to find your own favorite.
Sutheera is always coming up with new featured flavors (in a previous visit, I was able to taste White Miso with Sliced Almonds) so it is worth coming back for these discoveries. As a tribute to Spring, Sky Ice features a Sakura (Cherry Blossom) ice cream or sorbet every year when the cherry blossoms line the streets of Brooklyn in late April through May. I plan on making a day of it and visit the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s Cherry Walk to take photos then finish up my day at Sky Ice Sweet & Savory nearby with some Sakura Ice Cream.
Sutheera’s playful creativity in ice cream flavors makes an appearance in desserts such as the Winter Roll. Lychee, strawberry, kiwi and sweet coconut rice are rolled in rice paper and served with Black Sesame Seaweed ice cream. Candied ginger, a Green Tea Ice Cream and Chocolate dipping sauce and chocolate cookie “chopsticks” make a fun presentation.
Sky Ice Sweet & Savory also offers more traditional desserts such as sweet coconut sticky rice steamed in a fragrant banana leaf and topped with black beans. It is served with a scoop of non-traditional durian ice cream. The durian ice cream is well executed–rich and creamy with the flavor of durian, but tempering the garlic aftertaste of the stinky fruit.
How does Sutheera create these inventive flavors? She blurs the line between sweet and savory. Sometimes while eating a savory dish she is inspired to turn it into an ice cream. (When you love ice cream as much as she does, it makes sense to eat everything in ice cream form!) She looks at items in the market and wonders what they would taste like as an ice cream…even lilies and the purple Thai butterfly pea flowers.
Mostly, Sutheera wants to re-create her experiences in her ice cream. That is why she created the Smokey Campfire S’mores featured flavor. Her brother-in-law recently hosted a BBQ housewarming party. In the evening, they set up a fire pit in the backyard to toast marshmallows and make s’mores. Sutheera didn’t want to just create an ice cream that had the same ingredients as s’mores, she wanted to capture the experience itself…complete with smokey smelling clothes when you walk away from the campfire.
The Smokey Campfire S’mores is now one of my favorite Sky Ice flavors with its deep, charred chocolate flavor. You should experience it yourself while it is available for a limited time. I’ll be sad to see it leave the menu, but I am eager to taste the next flavors and ice cream experiences that Sutheera dreams up!
Meet Jonathan and Sutheera in this SFS TV episode about Sky Ice’s unique ice creams embodying the art and science of flavor pairing.
SkyIce Sweet & Savory
63 Fifth Ave
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Westside Market (Chelsea Location)
NYC Fresh Market (1660 Madison Avenue between 110-111th Street)
Park Slope Food Co-op
Compare Market (St. Mark’s Avenue Location)
Metropolitan City Market (150 Myrtle Avenue and 1142 Bedford Avenue Locations)
Bravo Market (844 DeKalb Avenue Location)
Garden of Eden in Brooklyn Heights
Back to the Land
Thai Grocery Store (76-13 Woodside Ave, Elmhurst, NY)