Van Leeu-Ooh! Ice Cream!

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If you can take the 1 train to Christopher Street in New York City and resist the urge to go into “Big Gay Ice Cream Shop” (http://biggayicecream.com) and then ignore your desire to check out what  “One if by Land, Two if by Sea” is, (http://oneifbyland.com) then you just may survive the obstacles of the West Village. If so, you can continue frolicking onto West 10th street. Fortunately, you probably can’t afford to breathe in the pee-soaked air of the neighbourhood. Keep on walking, sister.

Of course, I then got lost. Back and forth, back and forth…. Only for, like, 5 minutes, though. Maybe 15. Who’s counting? Stop counting, I’m sensitive. Point is, after walking up and down the street a few times, I finally realized that the barely-labeled white building with one or two ice cream-themed decals was the ice cream shop I was looking for. It’s called ‘Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream’. You probably can guess by now that I hate that name. I don’t know how to pronounce it, I don’t know what it means, and anything with the word “Artisan” in it is going to be overpriced and make me feel like a trendy fool. I was told they had good vegan ice cream options, though. Being a cold-blooded American who likes to eat unhealthy snacks while going for a healthy stroll, I felt it was my duty to check this out. My hopes and dreams were high, the young folks hanging out at the Mexican restaurant by West 4th were definitely higher.

I couldn’t get a decent photo for your reference (I tried to help, I just couldn’t do it!) So, I’m going to steal the photo from their website. It won’t give you a sense of the place, but it will show you that dressing like a Traditional North African ready to go for a hike will make your experience joyful and amusing.

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I want to preface my experience by saying that, prior to going to the store, I had my mother call them because their website was down. Having the luck I do, I assumed this meant I would travel the 30 minutes to find that the place didn’t exist anymore.

My mother had a 10 minute discussion with the cashier. They were debating whether he could name *all* the vegan flavours for her over the phone or not. She helped the situation by screaming into the phone.

“OH! The website’s working…. Wait, no, it’s not. So, tell me- No, it’s working! Nope. Nevermind. Can you tell me? Or my daughter? Can you tell us what vegan, yes, vegan flavours of ice cream you have? I can’t believe she’s vegan. You have ice cream, right? This is an ice cream place, right?”

Needless to say, I didn’t care what flavours they offered. I knew they still existed and I desperately needed ice cream at this point.

I go inside, hoping it’s busy and everyone is too distracted to point out the girl whose mother may or may not be completely insane. Well, there were 4 girls (who decided to take up all the sitting space) and one guy at the register. Register? What was this, a saloon? With a mirror setup so Sheriff O’Donnell can see if anyone is robbing the register…. There was no register, just an iPad set up on an oversized countertop.

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Cashier – Was it your mother who called?

Me – …. Maybe…. It could have been. I don’t know.

Cashier – Yeah. Well, is she okay? You can look at our vegan options.

*Ignore the horizontal headless man

Me – Yep. Will do, dude.

So, that went as smoothly as planned.

There were also some cookies on the counter. Sitting there, tempting me with their cookieness. “Check out my sweet, sweet chocolatey lumps. Don’t you want just a wee nibble?” I could have given in, but the cookies were $2.75, and, well, I don’t swing that way, cookie.

The menu itself was, you know, a menu. Of course, because the store is “artisan” and I am a judgmental jerk, I decided to put an old-timey effect on the photo in a snarky manner. I’m so anti-hip that I hipped-up the non-specifically-hip sign. Booyah!

To be fair, look at those prices. Look at them. Are you angry yet? You should be angry. Not to mention, certain flavours are sold out. Are you kidding me? If I had wanted dark chocolate vegan ice cream, I’d have to pay $5.50 for a small cup (I didn’t see any cones!) of my second favourite flavour? Ludicrous.

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I didn’t want dark chocolate, though. What am I, a simpleton? I knew pistachio was happening. Obviously. Sicilian Pistachio I am more wary of, however. Does it taste like olives? Is it a pizza ice cream? I’m so confused.

My second flavour, though, would be more of a challenge. Peanut Butter? Mint? PEANUT BUTTER? MINT?!? Easy- ask the cashier who also served as the scooper. Ooh, ~fancy~

He tells me I’ll love the peanut butter. He likes mint, though. What he didn’t take into account was that I couldn’t care less what he likes. I went with the peanut butter. Peanut butter and pistachio. Protein power! Nuts are fatty soluble, therefore, the protein is even more effective when mixed with sugar and weird flavouring stuff. Science. I get it.

The fun didn’t end there, though. Upon payment, the guy turns the iPad toward me, turns his head, and says I can pay. The first thing I see on the screen is a request for a tip. 15%? 20%? Do you want him to have your entire life savings?

See… it’s like this, I could have tipped, yeah. Then maybe he could afford rent. Maybe he could visit his grandmother. But, like, he would never know if I tipped him or not. He would NEVER know! Maybe it was that weird guy with the crocodile on his shirt who didn’t tip. He would probably blame him. Besides, I just paid $6.00 for vegan ice cream. My credit card needs a break.

Now, remember all that mint versus peanut butter drama from earlier? It didn’t even matter! The peanut butter was below the pistachio, and I could hardly taste it. Peanut butter is a strong flavour, as you know, it should not be missed by the senses. Alas, here I was, just a girl with a cold cup of melting ice cream, and no peanut butter to help me through the day. My peanut buttery scoop was so pathetic that my feelings were actually hurt.

The pistachio was okay. Not much else to say about that. It tasted pretty good, but the texture was lacking. Nothing creamy and/or delightful about it, really.

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*Mustache added for additional artisanal-ness

I walked away from this experience slightly disappointed. And I had to pee really badly, that didn’t help. Maybe I would have enjoyed my experience at Van Leeuwen’s even more if they had a restroom. We’ll never know.

What I’d say is, if you’re in the area and need some ice cream, go for it. It wasn’t a terrible experience, just a little rough. Sometimes the need for cream is worth the effort and money, though. Just know what you’re getting into and don’t let your mother call before you go.

Tune in next time when I review something else!

Rating: 6/10 unicorn hugs

Check out things you’re not eating right now:

http://www.vanleeuwenicecream.com

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