The early evening was starting to get a bit nippy as I followed a new friend down towards Chinatown. Upon discovering that I was a food blogger, he asked if I had visited N2 Extreme Gelato, and when I responded in the negative, he immediately grabbed my hand and began hauling me all the way down George Street from Town Hall.
EXTREME gelato?? You ask. How can gelato possibly be EXTREME??
Well this is extreme, most definitely. It’s gelato, and a show. I’ve never quite seen anything like it, save on Heston Blumenthal’s television shows.
N2 Extreme Gelato is located on Dixon Street, across the street from the main touristy Chinatown strip. There’s a few novelty stores around the area, before you come across the large, open shopfront, which has a patch of astro turf out front.
Rows and rows of conical flasks are lined up along the clear shelf under the counter, and up on the walls. The large cylinder to the right of the photo above was obviously where the dry ice was kept. KitchenAid mixers were all at the ready on the counter, and I stared enviously at all the different colours – I would love to have a baby blue one!
There’s bar seating along the opposite wall to the counter, and various plastic tables and chairs arranged in small groupings around the place, all in bright shades of neon. The blackboard menu is behind the counter and set out in a rather haphazard manner, which suits the quirkiness and ‘mad scientist’ vibe of the entire place.
According to my friend, N2 Extreme Gelato was the brain child of a few science students. On their website, they state that liquid nitrogen freezes ten times faster than a conventional Gelato Batch Maker, thus reducing the formation of large ice particles and giving the gelato a smoother texture. However they serve their gelato at -6 degrees Celcius, the temperature of freshly churned gelato, instead of -14, as at this temperature our taste receptors are better able to register and distinguish flavours.
How mind boggling. But enough discussing, it was time to try! I went for the “Bazinga”, which was orange-soaked sponge gelato with poppy seeds and a dash of Cointreau. I find it funny that on the menu above, one scoop was labelled as $6, and then under two scoops it said “you won’t need it”!
As promised, it’s gelato with a show. The gelato-maker wears protective eye-wear, as is required when handling liquid nitrogen. Into a KitchenAid went the gelato milk/cream mix, orange juice, poppy seeds, the Cointreau, and pieces of those gorgeous sponge finger biscuits. Add the liquid nitrogen and away it goes!
POOF. Smoke coming out of my ice cream and spreading across the counter and all over the floor!The process was incredibly fast and at one stage you could visibly see the KitchenAid struggling with the density of the ice cream. Eventually the guy turned it off and began the process of scooping it into our cups – I was expecting him to scoop it into a sphere as everyone does, and was surprised when he compacted it in tight and flattened the top.
It was such a generous serving! I dug into it right away. It probably was a bit different from what I’m used to when it comes to gelato, as the sponge fingers had been broken up and were well distributed evenly throughout the gelato, making it the general texture of the ice cream as opposed to being in chunks. The poppy seeds provided a lovely crunch and while I couldn’t taste any of the Cointreau, the orange flavour was quite pleasant. The orange flavour was just from orange juice, and I do think that a bit more zing from orange zest could have been used to liven up the ice cream, which did become a bit monotonous after half of the one serving. Or maybe it was because it was such a huge serving!
What a find and what an experience! I’ll definitely be bringing my friends here and sampling a few more of their wacky flavours.
Want opening hours? As their website says: We are opened 10 hours a day (1PM to 11PM), 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Or 4,200 minutes a week or 13,140,000 seconds a year.
N2 Extreme Gelato
Shop 43/1 Dixon Street, Sydney NSW 2000