When Carlouis de Palma began experimenting with ice cream, he froze a bowl to his teacher’s desk. Now, years later, he runs a successful ice-cream parlor at Miami Ironside. Opened in 2013, F27 Nitrogen Ice Cream is an experimental school project that has turned into a full-fledged business.
“Several years ago, we were given an assignment to come up with a new business or improve a business that already existed,” de Palma says. “I’ve always been interested in finding innovative ways to create a better product, and in St. Maarten, where I’m from, ice cream is an art. This is what led me to liquid nitrogen.”
At F27, there's no prefrozen ice cream stored in paper containers. Customers watch their dessert blended in front of their eyes. When an order is placed, custom-designed machines inject liquid nitrogen into a vanilla base and freeze the product in less than 60 seconds. This minimizes the formation of thick ice crystals and enhances an ice cream's smooth texture. In fact, F27’s name is an acronym for Fahrenheit 27, the temperature at which ice cream begins to freeze.
“The concept behind F27 is simple,” de Palma says. “It is to give each customer a fresh, velvety, and creamy treat. Customers choose either premium, real happy cow’s milk and cream — we don’t use artificial powder — or a vegan substitute. They then choose a flavor and watch the show.”
Customers can create their own frozen dessert by blending flavors and toppings or choosing one of the menu’s signature combinations. Popular flavors are passionfruit coconut, Spider-Man, dulce de leche Nutella, Kit-Kat krunch, and lemon craze. Prices vary depending upon the kind of ice cream, starting at $6.23 for a small premium ice cream and $6.40 for its vegan equivalent. Waffle cones cost an additional $1.50, and toppings are 75 cents each.
“We choose quality bases that come from happy cows, along with a nondairy mix that is a replica of real ice cream and is highly loved by the vegan community,” de Palma says. “We like to offer as many flavors as possible, sometimes over 50 flavors at a time, which gives the customer more freedom than other nitrogen ice-cream locations.”
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Though F27 has catered some local events, most notably Ultra Music Festival and Art Basel, de Palma is looking to expand soon. Around the end of 2016 or beginning of 2017, F27 will open in Panama at Vila Argentina and the Dominican Republican at Blue Mall in Santo Domingo and Punta Cana. He's also looking for a location in Naples, Florida.
“At Ironside, we have been accepted with open arms,” de Palma says. “We have repeat customers who drive from South Miami and, even in some cases, from up north to get their treats with their family. I opened this place due to the love I have for innovative ice cream, and I’m glad others do too.”
F27 Nitrogen Ice Cream is open Monday through Friday from 1 to 9:30 p.m. and weekends from 12:30 to 10:30 p.m. It is located at Miami Ironside (7610 NE Fourth Ct., Miami), adjacent to Ironside Pizza. If street parking is full, you can find a free fenced parking lot on the north side of the building.