Here’s the thing. I love N2 Extreme Gelato. I lined up to have my first cup of gelato frozen before my very eyes when it opened in August last year (the middle of winter; I was rather keen) – and I’ve been a doting customer ever since. After visiting to sample the Valentine’s Day menu this weekend, I thought: what better time than to publically confess my feelings?
I’ll admit it was the novelty that attracted me at first. Fresh off Heston Blumenthal’s week guesting on Australia’s Masterchef, I was mesmerised by the apparent magic of liquid nitrogen and its conjury in the kitchen. The promise of watching my ice-cream frozen to-order was new and exciting. Not to mention, the Brunswick Street location is an all-too tempting hop, skip and a jump from my house.
What made me fall in love was more than just novelty, though. The nitrogen vapours that billow from the bowls of N2′s KitchenAid stand mixers are stunning to behold, yes. Even all these months later I still like to stand and watch as those clouds creep along the workbench, swallowing beakers of ingredients soon to join their freshly-churned counterparts. But there are brains behind the beauty, and a cheeky character that hints at N2′s genuine spirit for experimentation and fun with the science of gelato.
The gelato itself seduces with a magnificently smooth, creamy texture. The rapid liquid nitrogen freezing process – taking just a couple of minutes – means that larger ice crystals don’t have time to develop, and so an incredible silky consistency is achieved. The method also means N2′s gelato can be served at a slightly warmer temperature (a balmy -6°C), which gives an outrageously perfect mouthfeel.
N2 sure knows how to keep the spark alive, too. The menu changes weekly; an Instagram update of the gelateria’s blackboard-wall illustrations every Friday has often seen me make an instant beeline for Brunswick Street. Whilst devouring new spoils in the simple seating area out back – wooden pallets, astro turf and graffiti opens out to the alleyway beyond – it’s fun to reminisce over another blackboard-wall that lists flavours of N2 past. Notches on my belt include Crème Brûlée (complete with torched top), French Earl Grey Infused Dulce de Leche, Deconstructed Kaya Toast and Lavender and Almond Fed White Chocolate Fudge.
From the Valentine’s Day inspired menu: ‘My Cherry’s Ripe’ – sour cream chocolate gelato with glacé cherries and coconut, cocoa dusting, dried cherry powder and a warm chocolate syringe | ‘Tira-Miss-You’ – mild coffee custard gelato with a tea and marsala soaked sponge centre topped with a swirl of mascarpone cream and chocolate flakes.
From the truly experimental (Beer Gelato, or Spam and Mustard?) and the playful, tongue-in-cheek (2 Girls 1 Cup, Your Black Cherry Bush) – N2 is fun, adventurous and downright delicious. It’s an infatuation I’ve surrendered to and I’m ready to shout it from the rooftops. If you’re tempted yourself, just know I’m not the only one vying for N2′s affections! During busy evening periods and warm days, expect to wait 10-15 minutes as the N2 crew fresh-freeze every single customer’s order. It’s worth the wait, and the atmosphere is vibrant and fun. You can get lucky too – this past Sunday afternoon saw a stroll in off the street and straight to the counter. You’ll pay $6 for each gelato, or $8 for the one or two premium creations on offer each week (always a good place to start).
And so ends my ode to N2 Extreme Gelato: may you find love at first lick as well!
N2 Extreme Gelato | 329 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy, VIC 3065
Open | Mon – Sun : 1.00pm – 11.00pm