Tasting Tour: East 7th Street
by Jessica Allen, 10/03/2012
Van Leeuwen. Photo: Laura Miller
48½ E. 7th St., 718-701-1630
118 First Ave. (at E. 7th St.), 347-850-2388
Just past Second Avenue is East 7th Street's epicenter of sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia, better known as brain freeze. The husband-and-wife-and-brother team behind Van Leeuwen began selling small-batch artisan ice cream from a single truck in 2008. Massive popularity has led to a fleet of six vehicles and three brick-and-mortar locations (thus far), including this bright storefront. Basic ingredients like milk and eggs are sourced nearby, while the more exotic stuff, like cinnamon, palm sugar and pistachios, comes from farther afield—Sri Lanka, Indonesia and Sicily, respectively. Down the block, People's Pops sells shave ice and frozen pops at a pop-up shop from July through October, depending on weather. It's located in a plywood shed that's attached to a bodega. A lone worker sits in front of a large translucent block, shaving the ice by hand and transforming it with fruity syrups and herbs. Or you can get a frozen pop in grown-up flavors like peach habanero, rhubarb chai, cantaloupe jasmine and strawberry lemongrass with sauvignon blanc.