I promised you a sweet surprise... and here it is!
What kind of surprise is this, you ask? a dim picture of ice cream? lame, you say. BUT NO! this is not just any ice cream. This is Wheeler's Black Label Vegan Ice Cream. I hadn't heard of it before a few weeks ago. According to some of my friends in the boston vegan association, the company made a stunning debut at the Boston Vegetarian Food Fest, but I missed them there because the lines were too long for their samples. I got to try some at a local restaurant's thanksgiving dinner, and then people from Wheeler's magically made an appearance at a friend's holiday potluck recently. Apparently someone clued them into the fact that there was going to be a large group of vegans celebrating the holidays, so like santa claus - they appeared with two large containers of ice cream! Chocolate chocolate chip and butter pecan... the latter was good, but it was the former that had us all moaning and rolling our eyes up in our heads - "can this really be vegan?!"
YES. So far, Wheeler's Black Label has been doing mostly restaurant tastings and private events - as well as catering to clients who hire them to make special gourmet flavors. There's a list of all the flavors they've made on the website.
Anyway. Wheeler himself asked me if I'd like to review a couple of his flavors, so the good, conscientious blogger I am, I decided I must. For your sake, gentle reader, not for my own, of course. I told him I'd be happy to try what ever he brought me.
AND THE NEXT DAY:
The pictures would be prettier if I'd been able to stop myself from digging in as soon as I opened the darn things. You can see where my spoon went. ^_^ It wasn't just me, though. My omnivore roommate Michele and her visiting sister tried and loved this stuff, too - and Mich is a really big dairy eater, so that's saying a lot.
I have tried a staggering number of vegan ice creams, but have pet peeves with all of them: 1.) most vegan ice creams are full of junk - just read the ingredients labels (tofutti, for example, uses high fructose corn syrup). 2.) They are ALL really sweet. It's like they try to compensate lack of dairy with overabundance of sugar. 2.) The texture is generally off-putting to vegans and almost always off-putting to nonvegans: some are too grainy, some are too watery, and some are creepily smooth. 3.) I'm allergic to a few (potato starch **weeps**)
Wheeler's does not fit into any of these categories! Wheeler's uses high quality ingredients, is sweet but relies on the actual taste of the product to carry it, not the sugar-content, contains nothing to which I'm allergic, and has a texture that made a few of us BVAers do a double-take. Plus. It tastes awesome.
That picture above doesn't do justice to the darker flavors: chocolate and black raspberry:
The black raspberry was not my favorite - I'm not that big a fan of fruity ice creams. But the Pina Colada was fruity - and AMAZING. it had little flakes of coconut throughout and was very rummy (Wheeler's does a lot of alcohol-themed ice creams. I feel very trendy/mature eating this). My roommate and her sister lit into this one pretty quickly. And then... the pumpkin. oh. my. god. I don't know how to explain this one. Imagine the best pumpkin pie you've ever had, then multiply that by 10, then make it ice cream. Yes. I'd had the chocolate before, but that didn't make it any less amazing. The chocolate chunks rival the ice cream itself for flavor. The texture is a dream. I couldn't stop smiling while I ate it - chocolate ice cream this good just makes you happy. I have to stop myself from going to attack my freezer as I write this.
Wheeler is going to send me a write-up of his ingredients, but the ice cream is Vegan, nightshade free, and as far as I can tell, it's also gluten free. While the ice cream isn't available on open markets yet, you can contact them for information, AND there's a Wheeler's Black Label Vegan Ice Cream location opening up soon here in Boston. Wheeler is a friendly, engaging guy who really wants to hear input from vegans. If you have questions, comments, or ideas for new flavors (seriously, how cool is it to be able to design flavors?!), let him know.
Check out the website. Try the ice cream. Come to Boston to try the ice cream. You won't be sorry... until it's gone : /
So here's the question: do I try to bring some of the leftovers home to my (mostly dairy-free) family in NY when I visit this weekend, or do I keep it all for myself...