Thursday, August 6, 1998 The Munch Crew goes out for ice cream By Mark Dilonno Star Ledger Staff. First things first: There is no such thing as bad ice cream. All ice cream is good. Some are just better than others. And when you venture into ice cream heaven – when you go out to taste-test the creme de la creme – you must go prepared. You must learn what makes ice cream great.
Tasting ice cream is no less intricate – or delicate – than tasting fine wine. Just less snobby. Yet to become a true ice cream connoisseur, one must understand the science of it all. Ice cream is not as simple as it looks. One must consider the butterfat content (the higher the better, with 16 percent being the highest quality or “super premium”). One must learn about “overrun” (the amount of air pumped into ice cream). One must learn about total solids and nonfat solids, and stabilizers, and acceptable bacteria levels. And to get an education in the area, the Munchmobile went to the master, Frank Hood, the vice chairman of Welsh Farms.
Frank has been tasting ice cream for decades. And has one word for serious ice cream taste-testers. Vanilla. Not soft vanilla. Hard vanilla. “You can hide a million things behind strong flavors,” Frank says. ”You can’t hide much behind vanilla.” Rudy Stark is into his third decade at Holsten’s on Broad Street in Bloomfield. Holsten’s is an old fashion ice cream parlor, with restaurant seating and a long counter with swivel seats. Stark serves up his ice cream in metal dishes, and whips up his milkshakes in metal canisters to the whirl of old time blenders. He cooks up his own syrups in a copper kettle and uses vintage machinery to make his ice cream. He also makes his own candy and serves a full but simple menu of burgers and sandwiches.
Rudy, a German-born pastry chef who bought Holsten’s 35 years ago, has tried to maintain the ambiance of the original 1939 ice cream parlor. “This is a very, very special place,” says Shirley Daniels, a customer at Holsten’s for 41 years. “It becomes like a big family after a while,” says Stark. “you see the same people, as children, then with their children. Stark’s ice cream keeps ’em all coming back. On summer nights, booths are filled with families and couples from 16 to 60 all making memories. Ron Stark and Chris Carley are also partners and will continue their excellence after Rudy’s retirement.
“The results: Three of the five members of the Munchmobile liked Holsten’s ice cream the best, Mark Di lonno and Bill Perlman of the Star-Ledger, and Bill Schlosser of News 12 New Jersey each said the ice cream parlor atmosphere at Holsten’s somehow enhanced the product. Using Frank Hood’s method and critelia, Di lonno said the ice cream – both chocolate and vanilla- stood up best to the flavor, body and texture, and meltdown tests.