Black is the new black. Or, everyone's talking about Morganstern's. Again.

Being that I was feeling a little bummed about my weekend of disappointing ice cream, I was SUPER excited to be going to Morganstern's tonight for an ice cream date with my friend Patrick, which is what happens when you write an ice cream blog - your friends call you and say "When can we get ice cream together?"  Patrick ended up having to cancel, but I wanted this ice cream so bad I decided to go anyway:  Time Out (of course) had informed me that they had a new flavor this summer that was called Black Coconut Ash, and I thought:  I MUST HAVE IT.  AND I MUST HAVE IT NOW.  Which - if you take a quick look at Instagram?  Everyone else thought too. Now coconut ash is probably not something that sounds familiar to you, and maybe not even potentially appetizing.  Coconut ash is simply the charred remains of the coconut husk, or shell.  The shell is obtained after the coconut oil and water is removed, so it retains little moisture, and easily ignites.  Why reduce it to ash at all? you might ask.  Well, supposedly the charcoal in the ash attracts toxins and gas and helps remove them from the body quickly.  These toxins are often found in processed foods, which is why we feel icky after eating them, but this charcoal is also used multiple applications:  in Brita water filters, in oder removal, in face masks, even in engineering concrete.  Yay science!

And then Nick Morganstern decided to remix the coconut ash back in with coconut cream, coconut milk, and coconut flakes to make ice cream, effectively, um, rebuilding the coconut....

.....and it's DIVINE.

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Now, a quick search for "black coconut ash" - not even using the words "ice cream" - will bring up NINE web articles about THIS ice cream (my tenth hit was for a company selling coconut ash from China.  Who knew!)  All the images are of Morganstern's ice cream too.

One of the articles is by Oddity Central (ha!), which says that Morganstern was simply "monkeying around with coconut ash for a while”, and then had a fancy chocolate bar which also used the ash as an ingredient. So when he finally decided to include coconut as a flavor in his new ice-cream menu, it all came together."

.........WAIT, YOU GUYS?

MORGANSTERN AND I LOVE THE SAME CHOCOLATE!!!!

Here's why I chose to pair my Coconut Ash with Banana:

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I am obsessed with this chocolate bar.  It doesn't hurt that I am also obsessed with coconut, but this chocolate bar is not sweet or cloying like Hershey's Coconut Kisses.  It's very subtle and satisfying.  And it's a superfood, so yeah, it's okay to finish it off in a week.  Right?

I am pretty sure this is what Morganstern was talking about when he said "fancy chocolate bar."  Pairing the two flavors for my cone was pretty much the smartest thing I've done all year.  The Coconut: subtle, shy, reminiscent, slightly ashy in flavor.  The Banana: Like the BEST Banana Cream Pie you've ever tasted.  Bright, full of flavor, almost tangy to cut down the sweet.  The two together was MAGIC.

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It did not occur to me that Morganstern's could become a bigger deal than it was last year.  But in addition to basically taking over the press, FIVE collaborations are happening with restaurants in August alone:

And the lines?  Still 35 minutes to get my ice cream on a Tuesday night at 9:30pm.  One confused British couple, who had the misfortune of standing behind me since I listened to their entire conversation, was delightfully unaware of the whole mania around it.

GIRL: "I don't want to wait 20 minutes for ice cream."

GUY:  "Well let's see how far we get in five minutes."

GIRL:  "There's loads of people waiting... do you think it's famous or something?"

GUY:  "Obviously it's famous, people are taking pictures of their ice cream.  And they sell T-shirts."

GIRL:  "You never know.  Maybe there's Pokémon here."

But what summed up my experience best was this couple, passing by:

GIRL:  "Whoa!  This must be, like, the best ice cream on the block!"

NY GUY:  "Nah, not really.  I've had better."

And so the circle of New York goes around and around.  I don't know where better exists.  But I'm sure there will be others out there trying to make it.  And next year, Morganstern's will be even more astounding.  I can't wait.

See you on line.

When I go vegan, I'm going Van Leeuwen.

The only thing new and different between this year and last year's ice cream season for Van Leeuwen Ice Cream is that they published an ice cream book.  NBD, right??  Everyone and anyone has a cookbook out nowadays!!  I mean, there's a cookbook out for learning how to cook on your car engine!!  (Please don't buy that, that's just annoying.) But seriously.  Even with the proliferation of cookbooks being released on what feels like a daily basis, that's not to be scoffed at.  It means that by now, seven years into their endeavor, Van Leeuwen's has gone from street truck to a valuable, recognizable name.

One of the things they are getting praise for is breaking down how to make your own vegan ice cream using cashew milk.  I think that's kinda fun and interesting in theory and I went into Van Leeuwen's this year thinking I might make this my inaugural year tasting vegan ice cream, but then.........

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Banana Cream Pie!! 

Okay, fine it was sold out.  The Red Currant Wedding Cake was juuuuuust beginning to win me over when I saw that the Honeycomb flavor had crunchy honeycomb pieces in it.  I mean.  C'mon.  That's cool.

So the Honeycomb won out.  And just so you know?  OHHHHHHHHHHHHHH.  It's GOOOOOOD.  It's really, really good.  The Sweet Cream ice cream had swirls of what almost tasted like (really good) sea salt caramel.  And combined with the rich creamy flavor of the ice cream and the satisfying crunchy bits?  This was one A+ ice cream.  In fact, when I think back on it, none of their flavors have ever been close to disappointing.  And you know what that means, kids:  Next year, we go vegan.