Last night I had class town at NYU’s Tisch Dance Building in the East Village. It takes me a nice looooong walk or a couple of subway transfers to get down there, so I thought, why not visit a brand new coffee house before class? Plus the weather was just perfect: overcast, cool (but not windy), and every-so-slightly drizzly. So yes, I walked all the way from the Upper West Side down to the East Village. I was pretty tired after a long day of homework and auditions, and wanted to find a quiet little coffee shop where I could just sit down and read my book. Thank you, Yelp! I discovered Van Leeuwen’s Artisan Bakery (7th street + 2nd avenue).
If you live in New York, you’ve probably seen Van Leeuwen’s pale yellow food trucks serving up ice cream around the Big Apple.
- Currants & Cream
- Mint Chip
- Ceylon Cinnamon
- Earl Gray Tea
- Palm Sugar
- Rotating flavors: Sticky Black Rice, Salted Caramel w/ Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Ricotta w/ Candied Lemon, Nectarine Sorbet, and Peach Melba
Van Leeuwen’s “stationary” bakery was founded to serve coffee that specifically compliments their delicious ice cream. The bakery boasts using only seasonal, organic, local ingredients of the finest quality. Van Leeuwen’s was founded just five years ago in 2008 but now serves up coffee and ice cream via five trucks and 3 store locations in Brooklyn and Manhattan.
- Starret Lehigh Building
601 West 26th Street, 12th Floor
- Williamsburg, Brooklyn
Bedford Ave and Nth 8Th Street
Daily from 12pm til late
- Union Square
Daily from 9am til 11pm
- Highline Park
Washington and Little West 12th St
6th Ave and 22nd Street 8am-10am
23rd Street and 5th Ave 10am-4pm
- University Place
At East 12th St Street
Daily from 5pm til late
- West Village
Bleecker St at Charles St
Greene and Prince Streets (or surrounding streets)
- Americana Manhasset
2060 Northern Boulevard,
- Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
81 Bergen St (at Smith St)
- Greenpoint, Brooklyn
632 Manhattan Ave (b/t Nassau + Bedford)
- East Village
48 1/2 East 7th St. (@ 2nd ave.)
But back to my story…So I moseyed into Van Leeuwen’s. The shop was the same bright, clean creamy yellow of their ice cream truck, and had metal bar stools against the window ledge as well as dark wooden booths and tables. I ordered a Masala Chai Latte (** see my favorite homemade chai latte recipe @ the bottom of this blog!) which the barista made right before me – frothing the steamed milk and pouring the hot chai tea goodness into a small brown coffee cup. The drink was a little pricey for the small size: $4, cash only. But I was sure to pick up a loyalty punch card in the hopes that I’ll get that free 10th drink one of these days.
I carefully carried my full chai cup over to one of the wooden booths. The comfort and ambiance was not exactly the dark and cozy coffee house you’d pop into on a typical rainy day, but I can imagine visiting the bright, quaint coffee shop on a hot summer afternoon to order an iced latte and Mint Chip ice cream.
I half-skimmed through my Anatomy textbook and half-spied on the couple of coffee-drinking locals reading the newspaper and furiously typing on their lap tops. T’was then that I discovered the drink I’m going to order next time: Van Leeuwen’s Affogato – a scoop of their incredible vanilla ice cream topped with a hot shot of espresso.
Verdict? I’d recommend Van Leeuwen’s, both truck and store, for a summer or spring coffee (and ice cream!) outing.
My FAVORITE Masala Chai Latte recipe: (thanks, www.yummysupper.blogspot.com)
- 3 cups water
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 6 cardamom pods, crushed in mortar and pestle
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder
- 2 pinches fresh grated nutmeg
- 6 pieces star anise
- 8 black peppercorns
- 1 1/2 cup milk
- assam or darjeeling tea- 6 teaspoons of loose tea, or 6 tea bags
- sugar, as desired (I like to add a couple of tablespoons of coconut sugar into the spice mixture)
(optional for serving: cinnamon stick and star anise)
- Place water, ginger, cardamom, cinnamon powder, nutmeg, star anise, and black peppercorns in a medium sauce pan over medium high heat.
- When the liquid comes to a boil, add milk. Let everything return to a boil. Then add tea and simmer for 1 minute.
- Pour your chai through a strainer into a clean bowl or a metal pitcher. Then pour the chai back into a clean pot/bowl. (If you continue to pour the chai back and forth like this a few times, you will froth the milk a bit – thus the “latte.”)