Massive liquid nitrogen vapors oozed through a Plexiglas vent as I watched French vanilla ice cream harden before my eyes. At minus 321 degrees Fahrenheit, it only took a few seconds.
Dessert prep at Creamistry in Kearny Mesa is quite a show, but the resulting texture is better than traditional ice cream. It’s the creamiest ice cream you’ll ever devour, made better by choosing your own base, flavor mix-ins and toppings.
Why so creamy? The answer is science. Ice crystals start growing as ice cream begins to freeze. A long freezing process (as is common with traditional ice cream) equals bigger ice crystals and a grainier texture. Liquid nitrogen freezes ice cream so quickly that ice crystals barely have time to form. The result is a dense cream that has a bit of elasticity to it. It’s hard to put down the spoon.
Creamistry is all about choice, and it starts with size and base. The signature base is the creamiest, but you could also opt for an organic, sorbet or coconut base (vegan and lactose-free). Next, decide on toppings and mix-ins that vary from fresh fruit to gummy candy to cereals such as Cap’n Crunch. You can even upgrade the bowl to waffle, brownie or chocolate.
Address: 7420 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., #108, Kearny Mesa
Have a seat and watch the show. The chosen base is poured into the bowl of a stand mixer. A spout blows liquid nitrogen into the bowl at the same time the mixer’s paddle spins the liquid base into frozen ice cream. It’s ready when the liquid nitrogen disappears, rendering the ice cream safe to eat. The whole process takes a matter of seconds but is impossible to miss — and fun to watch — as a huge plume of vapor fills the otherwise small store.
I opted for an upgraded waffle bowl, which was more like a delicate waffle wall slid into a cup. It’s very good, but I’d rather reserve the calories for ice cream. If you’re like me and want to discern the difference between liquid nitrogen ice cream and regular ice cream, choose a flavor you commonly eat. That’s French vanilla for me, which tasted like it was made with fresh vanilla beans and had the perfect level of sweetness.
Never one to turn away dessert, I will say I definitely prefer the texture and taste of liquid nitrogen ice cream to traditional ice cream.
I went in the late afternoon on a weekday and waited about 10 minutes after ordering for my ice cream. It’s popular, so there were other customers in the shop, and this dessert takes a little time to make. As expected, couture ice cream comes with a higher price tag. I paid about $8 for a one-scoop waffle bowl with a topping.
Although there are rumors of many more Creamistry locations opening in San Diego, the two next confirmed openings as of this writing are in Carmel Valley and San Marcos.
Katie Dillon is a lifestyle and travel writer who believes that one of the best ways to explore a city is through its food and drinks.