Friday, August 1, 2008

Great Ice Cream - Van Leeuwen Artisan

I’m eating ice cream again and not worrying if I’m going to grow a third ear in the process.

I recently had my first taste of Van Leeuwen Artisan ice cream, which is available from the company’s two trucks in Manhattan. One of the trucks was in my neighborhood and I was immediately drawn in by the writing next to the side service window.

“Welcome to Van Leeuwen Artisan, the original gourmet ice cream truck. We make our ice cream with fresh hormone free milk and cream from local farms, cane sugar and eggs. Our flavors come from the finest small producers all over the world.”

Eureka! No more need to worry about the stabilizers, emulsifiers, refined sugars and pesticide-ridden milk and cream which will spring the extra ear I don’t need.

I bought a small cup for $3.95, split between coffee and chocolate. (A pint--the best deal--is $8.)

The tastes were clean and not too sweet, and the texture was dense. Real ice cream! I also tried the ginger, strawberry and mint chip. They were all delicious.

I introduced myself to the guy in the truck, Dan Suarez. (You'll also find company founder Ben Van Leeuwen, and his brother, Pete, selling cups and cones.)

I asked Dan about the genesis of the milk and cream.

“Most of it is grass-fed, and all of it is hormone-free,” Dan said. “The ice cream is made in Boonville, New York according to our recipes.”

Boonville is just west of Adirondack Park, in Oneida County. The ice cream’s milk and cream come from farms in the area.

The guys started selling their ice cream from the two trucks at the end of June, after extensive recipe testing. Whole Foods will begin selling pints later this summer.

“Ben and Pete, when they were younger,” Dan said, “sold Good Humor in the ‘burbs over the summers. Ben said, ‘I hate giving out Good Humor; I don’t eat Good Humor ever. Why not do the same thing with real ice cream?’”

Just then, a cabbie parked his taxi and handed two $1 bills to Dan through the truck’s back window.

“Ice cream?” the driver asked.

“Yea,” Dan answered. “It’s $3.95.”

The cabbie snatched his $2 back.

“It’s the real stuff,” Dan said, to no avail.

The taxi sped away, presumably to find a Mr. Softee truck and its chemical-ridden product.

The money saved will come in handy when the cabbie pays to have his body detoxified.

In the meantime, wear your seatbelt; toxic shock syndrome can strike unexpectedly, at any time, on any avenue.

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