Tuesday, February 19, 2008
Wheeler's Black Label I-Don't-Care-What-You-Call-It-It's-Freaking-Delicious: A Bitchin' Vegan Kitchen Review
Several weeks ago I had the pleasure of test-driving some of the infamous Wheeler's Black Label Vegan Ice Cream. I had talked to Wheeler on the phone myself beforehand about some generous samples that had sadly gone missing in the mail (get your own frozen non-dairy desserts FedEx carriers!) and about the then roiling mini-controversy that erupted on his blog (now cleared, and the product over there remains Very, Very Vegan of course). I found him to be such a nice and convincing guy that I left my cozy apartment and trekked into Manhattan on a day so cold I doubted the very existence of the pants on my butt... to go sample ice cream!
All this is to say that the odds were not all in favor of this scrappy little product in the face of my lazy food journalism. Yet when I finally arrived at the super packed East Village art gallery Little Cakes to wrap my icicle-hands around some of the goods, all I could muster in the way of accolades was...
I honestly don't recall exactly which flavors I sampled - I'm not sure I was ever told or ever asked. But there was some peanut butter-y-ness, some chocolate chips, some cinnamon, I think I recall some coconut and I know I definitely remember seriously surprising quantities of booze per bite. In general, the flavors were intense, the mix-ins were generous, though not overwhelming, and the various notes worked together in perfect harmony; a 1 + 1 = 3 sort of situation. One memorable"experimental" batch which included fancy tequila, black pepper and earl grey was frankly mind-blowing despite being consumed on the frigid walk back to the F train. Even if my memory has faded a bit and some details are blurry around the edges, I do know this; Wheeler's Ice Cream had far and away the best texture of all the vegan frozen desserts I have tried--which is to say, many. Since this smooth, thick, consistent texture is the most elusive quality in vegan ice creams, I feel pretty confident that you could pass this stuff off as its evil dairy counterpart. Though with such a remarkably better nutrional profile and inspired attention to flavor, who the hell needs to?
Lucky for me Wheeler's will be live and local in Brooklyn this weekend for an Oscar party with wunderkind guest star Hannah Kaminsky of Bittersweet and My Sweet Vegan fame. Check it out.
Also, please, please, please out Wheeler's website and blog for photos that do the ice cream more justice than my sad, sad little dixie cup snapshot above. *Drool.*