Where to find NYC’s best stretchy ice cream
The centuries-old method of making stretchy ice cream – booza – is captivating New Yorkers, thanks to a sleek little shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, called Republic of Booza.
The stretchy ice cream that originates from the Levant in the eastern Mediterranean region is traditionally made in one flavour, qashta, a quasi-candied cream with a hint of orange blossom or rosewater. But Republic of Booza specialises in a variety of flavours that rotate monthly, serving classics like vanilla and coffee as well as unique tastes like sour cherry mahlap or horchata.
Two ingredients make booza stretchy: ground orchid root flour called sahlab and mastic, which is sun-dried resin from a tree growing on the Greek island of Chios.
“There is no better city in the world to introduce people to a new food concept,” says Michael Sadler, one of the co-founders of Republic of Booza. “New Yorkers are so open-minded.”
Sadler first discovered booza on a trip to Damascus, Syria, while studying Arabic in Amman, Jordan. “I fell in love with the texture,” he says.
Even though Republic of Booza is a contemporary iteration of an old tradition, its authenticity is palpable and doesn’t feel gimmicky. The four co-founders who hale from Canada, Australia, Qatar, and the US, are connected to the eastern Mediterranean region through heritage or life experiences, sharing a deep respect for booza’s history.
In New York, booza has turned out to be a particular hit among kids, who discover the shop via YouTube videos and are intrigued by the ice cream’s stretchiness. But the little shop also draws in grown-ups, attracted by the unique flavours.
Text Nina Roberts
Photos Lina Tegman