Friday, August 24, 2012

Lula's Sweet Apothecary

Peanut butter chip atop
vanilla with raspberry and brownie

I’ve discussed it here before, but there was a time where I shunned meat. And cheese.  And eggs.  Though my quasi-veganism lasted but two or three short months, I learned a good amount.  I learned that it is possible to eat a varied and healthful, even exciting, diet devoid of animal products.  I learned that I like being a contrarian, which is perhaps not my best quality.  I also learned, perhaps most importantly, that there is some really fucking good vegan ice cream out there.  Sure, there are a lot of vegan facsimiles of typically dairy and meat-laden goods.  Some of it is absolutely atrocious, its mere existence a disservice to vegans and vegetarians everywhere.  But some of it is completely delicious in its own right, vegan or otherwise. 

It’s no secret that I love ice cream.  I have at least a little bit of it, even if it’s just a spoonful or two, every day.  Vetting the ice cream situation was necessary before I took the plunge into my short-lived quasi-veganism (that's a lot of qualifiers right there...).   Throughout my testing, I ran into quite a few awful ‘frozen non-dairy desserts,’ but the good ones, man, they’re good.   Take, for instance, Lula’s Sweet Apothecary, an old-school soda fountain type place.  It feels like where Archie would’ve taken Betty (or Veronica) for a date if they lived in Portland in 2012 instead of Riverdale in the 1950s.   

Good vegan ice cream is not good “for vegan ice cream,” but just plain good, sans qualifiers.  The stuff at Lula’s is among the best ice cream I’ve had, vegan or otherwise.  The hard ice creams are made from soy, coconut or cashews.  The latter two are the best options, as the fattiness carries over in the best ways possible.  Add to that some intelligently thought out add-ins and spot-on flavors, and you’ve got something special. 

I walked away recently with a double scoop: peanut butter chocolate chip and vanilla with raspberry swirl and brownie, both recommended to me by the fella working the counter.  The peanut butter flavor was super rich, impeccably creamy and just plain delicious; the vanilla tasted much lighter and served almost as the J to my scoop of PB.  Though I could’ve used more brownie chunks, the raspberry rippled through the vanilla in aggressive swirls that served as a nice counterpoint to all of the heaviness in my cup.  The maple walnut, which I’ve had in earlier trips, is also a winner.

Lula’s is not one of those holier-than-thou vegan joints.  It’s not health food. What it is, most meaningfully, is amazing, in both the magical, incredibly rich things done without the crutches of eggs and dairy and in the quality of the product churned out.  Go there; just, go. 

Lula’s Sweet Apothecary
516 East 6th St (b/w Ave A and B)
(646) 481-5851