• Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream

    Food & Drink  

    My brain is starting to freeze. But I don't care. I press my tongue up against the roof of my mouth and keep going. With the precision of a master surgeon, I carve out the strawberry careful not to touch the chocolate or vanilla. The rectangle carton of Neapolitan is all mine for at least the next 17 minutes—my own private Heaven. The blacks of my eyes shoot around the kitchen between bites. Mom hates this—me siphoning the strawberry third before anyone else has a shot at it. Such is life with two younger siblings—the Neapolitan catered to everyone…and yet no one. The year is 1993.

    The obsession with strawberry ice cream that takes me at the age of 12 eventually leads me here, Van Leeuwen’s shop in the East Village. It’s my go-to spot in New York for ice cream. What began in a Greenpoint Brooklyn kitchen in 2008 is now scooped out of six ’88 Chevy Step Vans and three storefronts in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Van Leeuwen’s commitment to celebrating all-natural ingredients is rapidly cementing their frozen concoction as the ice cream in the city.

    While strawberry is a classic ice cream flavor, it’s all too often ruined by artificial colorings and “natural flavorings” that come from sources other than strawberries. These are unpleasant but necessary ingredients when insufficient quantities of strawberries or bland-tasting strawberries are used. Yeah, that strawberry I fell in love with back in ’93, tainted love. It turns out it was a scientifically engineered bastardization of what God intended. And God knows ice cream, I assure you.

    Cutting corners is stomached by most in the industry, but for ice cream artisans and self-proclaimed foodies Laura O’Neill and the Brothers Van Leeuwen (Ben and Pete), it’s cringe-inducing. They do it right—only (fresh hormone and antibiotic free) milk and cream, cane sugar, egg yolks and generous amounts of sun-sweetened strawberries. It is the freshest strawberry ice cream that has ever hit my lips…and it delivers a hell of a brain freeze.

    Aug 20, 2014 | Permalink (0) Total Comments

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  • Saddle Up

    Style | Prep Essentials  

    Sportswear is America's fashion child. It’s about living, and that’s where America has made its mark. In the early 1920’s, American golfers, following the Duke of Windsor’s lead, brought two-tone shoes to the greens long before they appeared on the feet of jitterbugging adolescents. Girls of the 1950’s typically paired saddle shoes with skirts, a white blouse and bobby socks. Although the normal coloration is white and black, today, they’re worn by both men and women in a variety of style and colors.

    Mark McNairy, Allen Edmonds, J.Crew and a handful of English cordwainers each have their take on the classic, but Ralph Lauren's are top drawer. Bench-made in Northampton England by Crockett & Jones (a renowned cordwainer in their own right), this particular pair are vintage at over 20 years old. Everything from the chocolate eyelets, to the tan shade of the saddle, to the silhouette of the toe (not too round but not too pointy) is just perfect. And then they're beat to hell. In tan/white, they subtly hint at the gentlemanly demeanor found on the links.

    Pair the brown variations with a multi-stripe sock from Smart Turnout. Come summer, lace them up sock-less with your shorts and summer-weight trousers. Whatever you do, just don't try to keep them clean.

    Aug 15, 2014 | Permalink (0) Total Comments

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  • August 2014 Playlist

    Music & Books  


    Listen on Spotify

    Aug 14, 2014 | Permalink (0) Total Comments

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  • Best Laid Plans

    Miscellany  

    The orange glow from the east slowly crawls over the pines, dancing on the lake's glass. It's hypnotizing. Therapeutic. Magical. My suprachiasmatic nucleus (the tiny part of the brain responsible for waking you up) triggers as the lambent light hits my dilated pupils. I paddle towards it in a wooden canoe carved from a felled tree over a century ago. Its integrity still in tact, like a good man long laid to rest.

    I should be on Nantucket right now. If I had things my way (of which I often insist), I would be. Sand in my hair, salt in my mouth. But I'm not. Instead, I'm in a small town outside of Providence, Rhode Island. Late trains, missed buses, sold out ferries...disguised whispers to embark on adventures unaccounted for.

    It's the night before and I've stalled in Providence until tomorrow morning. I text Kiel (James Patrick). He and his lost boys will be here in about 17 minutes. We immediately declare a pizza party. All at once, we sync our watches for the 30 minute countdown and secretly hope Dominoes can't navigate the obscure snaking roads (does Dominoes still guarantee delivery in "30 minutes or it's free"? Who knows, we don't care...we just watch the clock in optimism*).

    Tonight becomes a flashback to boyhood. Fire-starting, prank-pulling, firework-lighting, trespassing, and all-around general troublemaking. We hop into canoes just after midnight and paddle into the night. Our iPhone batteries exhausted, we lose all track of time, space...ourselves. It isn't until this morning as I'm paddling out that I realize even the best laid plans are at the mercy of Summer's romantic whims.

    Now on to Nantucket...

    *The Providence Dominoes driver did indeed later lose his job after failing to make good on Dominoes' "30 minutes or it's free" guarantee. We discovered some time later that one of the summer interns inverted one of the numbers in the address. We felt quite badly about this.**

    **That was a fiction. It turns out that Dominoes hasn't promised a pie in "30 minutes or it's free" since 1993. Huh. Seems like it was only yesterday.

    Aug 11, 2014 | Permalink (0) Total Comments

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  • A Sea of Split Peas

    Music & Books  

    by Tucker Chet Markus

    It wanders. Through a cloud of foggy reverb, scratching guitar, and halfway sing-speaking is found Courtney Barnett’s double EP, A Sea of Split Peas. It’s a hundred mile an hour stream of consciousness strapped to rusty pickups and evenings in.

    Barnett, as Australian as the way she sings the word “to-mah-to” might suggest, captures the roaming lilt of Dylan and the twang of a sun-beat countryside. Released last fall, A Sea of Split Peas is nomadic, not aimless. It billows with images and story and musings, without pomp or ego. It’s a picture of dust rising off of clay in the Australian countryside.

    The ballast of A Sea of Split Peas sways from careening testimonies pitched on messy cymbal crashes to halcyon and heartfelt missives pinned with brushed snares. The EP begins from the heights of “Avant Gardener,” a digressive (and, in passing, seriously funny) account about an anaphylactic asthma attack during a heat-wave. It's lit up, not by the action, but by Barnett’s captivating inner consciousness. Key lyric: “The paramedic thinks I’m clever ‘cause I play guitar / I think she’s clever ‘cause she stops people dying.”

    We then move across to “Anonymous Club”—soft, sitting with a loosely-held guitar, leaning back on the sofa. “Turn your phone off friend / You’re amongst friends and we don’t need no interruptions.” There’s a simplicity and earnestness in Barnett’s voice. It feels real. Tangible.

    A Sea of Split Peas swings from a bounding rearview window on the rusty-red outback to daydreams trying to avoid light through the blinds. Guided by the narration—or singing—of Barnett, we find that both, via her hundred mile an hour mind, are equally as exciting.

    Aug 7, 2014 | Permalink (0) Total Comments

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