September 6, 2009

Your Labor Day Itinerary (aka Ice Cream)

If the opportunity to see my smirking face isn't enough to lure you to New York City, perhaps I need to provide a little more incentive. Food-related incentive, not to put too fine a point on it. I do know who I'm talking to here!

I just wanted to drop in for a mo' on this eve of Labor Day to give you an idea of what might blow your mind (or taste buds, rather) most efficiently tomorrow. That is, if you don't already have big plans. Even if you do, this is worth rearranging your schedule.

See, Friday afternoon, I took myself on a wee adventure after I was done with work midafternoon. I had heard tell of this Highline over in Chelsea and decided I needed to see it/walk it for myself.

Sadly, I was without camera, so I only have cell phone pictures for you, but it's basically an elevated boardwalk over 10th Avenue stretching from 20th Street down to 14th or so. The short history is that it was a freight route in the 1930s, hence the remaining train tracks (chaise lounges now stretch between the rails). Friends of the Highline + the City of New York have worked together to preserve it as an elevated public park for us to enjoy nowadays.

So I enjoyed my stroll very much--I walked the whole thing, top to bottom, and was just about to head home when I spied with my little eye this truck of amazing glory and fortune:

The Van Leeuwen Artisanal Ice Cream Truck. I have lusted after this very ice cream truck ever since I read about it in the New York Times many moons ago (back when Seth Kugel still wrote the Weekend in New York column), so throwing lacks of both hunger and money to the wind, I scurried over and bought myself a small dish with two flavors. The decision was not easy.

The ice cream is basically just milk (hormone-free), cane sugar and eggs, and the flavor additions are pretty much whatever they can mortar-and-pestle into it. The predictable/standard flavors are all there, though undoubtedly more incredible tasting than their generic counterparts, but being no ordinary ice cream company, I could choose no ordinary flavors.

The Ceylon Cinnamon and Ginger called my name above all others.

I really can't convey just how extraordinary this ice cream is. The flavors tasted as though someone stood over my bowl and ground the spices into my ice cream just moments before it was served to me. I almost want to say it's alive! That's how vibrant the flavors are. And while I'm sure my ice cream was less than a week old, since Ben Van Leeuwen still makes the ice cream by hand, the very nature of ice cream means that the spices must have been living in my portion for a little while before I got to it. That's why I'm still speechless as to how good it was.

As if that weren't enough, the bowl and spoon I used were both compostable, making Van Leeuwen a very responsible local business. Major points there, Ben.

So if I've succeeded in selling you on the fact that you need to sample this ice cream for yourself, visit their website for a list of places selling pints and/or scoops. You can also find addresses where their trucks stop regularly, and if you're a major fan (aka me), you can follow the truck on Twitter!

And in the interest of full disclosure, I was very much not paid to endorse Van Leeuwen ice cream. In fact, it cost me $3.75.


Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) said...

I think that is soooo cool, mortar and pesteling spices into ice cream. I am really glad you enjoyed your little bowl of heaven :)

Gina said...

The ice cream sounds awesome! We have a similar ice cream place in columbus, called Jeni's ice cream. The menu and flavors sound very familiar. The only difference is that it's not on a truck! I think that's very need, and unique, but probably wouldn't work in a small city (compared to NY) like Columbus.

K from ksgoodeats said...

Oh wow, that place sounds really cool! I love the unique flavors :)

brandi said...

that cinnamon + ginger ice cream sounds amazing.

my friend's mom used to make this homemade cinnamon ice cream that was amazing. I've never had anything that came close to that, but this sounds pretty good.

now to just get to NY...

Rosey Rebecca said...

That placer looks awesome!! I was just near NYC yesterday. I'll have to find it next time!

Anonymous said...

i see this truck in my dreams, too -- i've been kicking myself for months fornot trying it when i saw it in the slope! every flavor sounds soooooooo good.

Jenny said...

what would labor day be without ice cream? after all, it's the last "hurrah" of summer .. so the frozen stuff = totes necessary.

Olga said...

See, this is what I love about NY, every time I leave and come back, there's something new to discover :)

That ice cream looks out of control.

Dominique said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dominique said...

Oh god, that truck! I keep seeing articles about it and then curse like a sailor because I live too north to enjoy it.

$3.75 doesn't seem like too much to pay for ice cream. Just the other day I paid about the same amount for a scoop of lime chiffon ice cream from a Canadian company. Pretty good but gianduia is calling my name.

Oh wait, redcurrants and cream? What is this truck doing to me? I could go make some banana soft serve but the magic bullet blade is being used to hold my juice.