The ice cream kings of Kings County


Dear Ice Creamers, Lest you think I've forgotten you, allow me to plead my case.  I spent the best ice cream month of the summer in the chilly, bonnie hills of Edinburgh, Scotland, performing my one-woman show in the Edinburgh Fringe Fest.  I was hoping there'd be ice cream to be had there, so I could blog from afar, but alas.  All I had was a whole lotta fish & chips instead.  And it was certainly NOT ice cream weather, with averages in the 50s and gray skies above.  I never thought I'd say this, but returning to the heat and humidity of NYC August was nothing short of amazing.

So.  With only a few short weeks left of ice cream season upon us, I got down to business.  First stop: the Van Leeuwen ice cream truck, an annual fave.

Van Leeuwen is fast becoming a NYC darling.  What started as a single food truck in 2008 became nine locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan - six trucks and three brick-and-mortar stores - by 2012.  Today they have four solid shops, three definitive truck-stop locations, including an LA-based truck, and can be bought by pint in over 44 Manhattan groceries and 46 Brooklyn locations.  Oh, and they're served at six local restaurants.  At least, to date.

Soooooooooo.......they're nobody's secret.  In fact they're almost SO huge you might not feel they belong on this blog.  But regardless of their success, they still make their ice cream from scratch in Greenpoint, using only fresh hormone and antibiotic free milk and cream, cane sugar, egg yolks and the best fruits, chocolates, spices and nuts from small producers locally and around the world.  To maintain that small-batch mentality and continue to take over the world one food truck at a time, I think that's pretty darn stellar.

So, Cheers.

Mysterious ice cream leaves me wanting more


Alright, fine.  I'm tired of waiting to share this with you.

The Chocolate Room has long been on my List of great places to go for ice cream.  I even remember how it came about, actually - one night Sweet Melissa was closed, and, bereft, they pointed me across Court St. in Cobble Hill to this sweeterie (made that word up too!).  I had NO IDEA they made ice cream!  And it was good.  No - more than good.  It's pretty freaking amazing.  And they're always packed, and yet no one seems to even care about their ice cream.  How can you, when you're distracted by delectable chocolate on every side, right?!  But, way before this blog existed, I would go to the Chocolate Room in the summer, after catching a movie next door, and get their Mint Chip ice cream.  It's sooo good.  Even Adam Richman likes it.

Last weekend, a friend and I got dessert here after catching "Blue Jasmine."  I wasn't in the mood for chocolate, so I got a Blackberry Soda Float, and was reminded how good their ice cream is.  Turns out, I left a package I'd received in the mail that day under the table, and had to go back a few days ago to get it.  And decided to get ice cream.  I mean, just for you guys.

They don't have many flavors, but one caught my eye, because of the adjective before it:  Sumatran Coffee.  Now, I am a HUGE dark coffee drinker, and this sounded divine.  As the server handed over the little sample spoon, I asked his favor --- "OHMYGOD, WOWTHISISGOOD."  The minute the coffee hit my tongue I spoke before even thinking.  It was deep.  Rich.  Not too cloying and sweet, like most coffee ice creams are.  It tasted like a good Tiramisu.

He answered me anyway.  "My favorite is the Madagascar Vanilla."  Well hell, if it's vanilla from Madagascar, I'll try it.  "OHMYGOD!  THISISSOGOODTOO!"  For the very first time in this blogger's history, I couldn't decide between two.  So I got both.  It tasted like the most amazing coffee-milkshake-float made in heaven.

But, why was this ice cream so much better than others??  I needed to find out.  I asked the guy behind the counter.  Yes, yes, of course it's made in house.  Yes, small batches by hand.  Yes, all-natural ingredients.  I get it.  But what was different?  Where was the milk from?  What about the ingredients?  TELL ME.  I even came back the next morning to "meet with the chef," as I was instructed, as no one in the shop seems to know anything about their ice cream.  Apparently, I just missed him.  I left my email address, assured by the staff that he would contact me.  Sure.

But here's the thing:  I have scoured the internet for info on what makes this ice cream tick.  The name is all over the place:  One of NY Serious Eats Best Ice Cream Sandwiches, 4.5 stars on Yelp, 4.5 stars on Trip Advisor, tons upon tons of "personal reviews" (cough, cough), but not a solid iota of INFO on what makes this ice cream so amazing.

But I couldn't wait until Le Chef got back to me, if at all.  It's just GOOD, guys.  Do yourself an ice-creamy flavor and buy in to the mystery.  As they say, ignorance is bliss.  :)