ice cream

Sometimes the best ice cream is unplanned.

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It was one of those gorgeous Summer Saturday nights in New York, not the oppressive icky kind we get in August, but the nights people dream about:  quiet.  A small breeze.  Dinner in the West Village on an outdoor sidewalk preferred over the air-conditioned inside. I'm trying to meet my friend Scott for dinner, and we did this all wrong, started talking about where to go far too late in the day, couldn't agree on a spot, this one's too expensive, this one doesn't have reservations left, etc etc etc.  As you do, when you're 30-something in New York and you have 25,000 restaurants to choose from.

So we meet in the West Village and figure we'll land on a spot.  En route I pass Café Cluny, with its draped outdoor ice cream cart, and I eye it longingly, thinking Chartreuse ice cream.

As it so happened, we ended up eating dinner there, since they had tables and they had "amazing ice cream" (which is not a hard sell.)  We ended up having kinda the perfect night out, because we came in with zero expectations, and were met by fantastic food, great service (we're those people that have a million questions about the menu), good wine, and oh did I mention the ice cream yet?

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Scott and I both order ice cream because we can't agree on flavors (we're kinda like the Elaine and Jerry of Seinfeld).  I can't remember what he orders, but I remember we were arguing over Butterscotch vs. Rum Raisin.  He hates Rum Raisin and Cappuccino-flavored ice cream; I had the Coconut last year and I thought the Butterscotch would be too much like the Butter Pecan.  {Please read that last sentence in Jerry Seinfeld's voice.}

NOW.  I've only had their ice cream once.  I remember it being a little bit of an out-of-body experience, but I could be remembering wrong.

I wasn't.

Their ice cream is PHENOMENAL.  And what makes it phenomenal are these INCREDIBLE, unique, ingredient-popping flavors.  Of the three, the Rum Raisin literally made me stop mid-sentence and close my eyes for a moment.  And it's not even a flavor I particularly enjoy.  I just felt like I'd tasted the most amazingly fresh raisin soaked in the best rum of my life.  In an ice cream.

We each devoured all 3 of our scoops.  We felt disgusting afterwards.  But in the moment it was oh-so-sweet.

Go treat yourself to this off-the-radar spot, cart or seated, you're destined to have a great night.  I can't wait to find out what flavors they have for me next year!! :P

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.