Mostly, I enjoy going back and having things be so comfortable and seeing the awesome changes that have occurred since I left. One very exciting and delicious change is that Little Baby's Ice Cream seems to be rapidly taking over Philadelphia, and now even has an embassy in West Philly just minutes from my old home. Little Baby's is a gem that Philly should hold dear to their hearts and be intensely proud of, especially in the face of food snobs from NYC and other cosmopolitan super-hyped cities. Little Baby's sources most ingredients from other local businesses, has a playful aesthetic that I can't accurately describe with any words already existing in the English language, features dairy and non-dairy flavors that challenge and delight your tastebuds (think balsamic banana, spicy mustard, and earl grey sriracha), and is run by some super sweet dudes. Check out their site for more info on their ingredients, their hand-made small-batch process, and calendar of where their TRICYCLES (mobile treats!) will be in the upcoming weeks.
While I am elated to be in NYC, I do miss the food in Philly. Little Baby's highlights the exact problem I'm having with the fact that there is nowhere (that I know of) in Manhattan to go get a cone of vegan ice cream, a vegan milkshake, or other icy sweet non-dairy treats. Lula's Apothecary and Stogo have both shut their doors recently, leaving an ice-cream-cone-shaped hole in the hearts of many NYC vegans. Klein's is still out there, but it's allllllll the way in Brooklyn.
Little Baby's filled that void in my life this weekend, and it couldn't have been more delicious. The West Philly Embassy boasts an adorable parklet, Cedar Parklet, with cheery orange and green tables and pretty plants for some extra-lovely outdoor ambiance. Indoors, sparkling vintage-style red vinyl bench seats line the walls. Triangles, geometric shapes, and stripes cover the walls while pastel-colored shapes hang overhead, giving the place a Pee-Wee+The Max (from Saved by the Bell) vibe.
On Saturday, I practically inhaled a Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough milkshake made with coconut milk. It was a dream come true - rich chocolate, smooth coconut, and yummy globs of sugary chocolate cookie dough. Not oversweet, not too heavy, and definitely a chocolatey vegan delight.
On Sunday before heading back to NYC, I sipped a cool creamy Banana Chip milkshake made with almond milk (soy is also available). It immediately evoked fond memories of the banana gelato I had on my very first trip to Sicily at age 13, but with a hint of the coconut base and tasty crunchy bits of banana chips and dark chocolate as a bonus. It was the perfect consistency - not too icy and watery, and not too thick like some non-dairy ice creams. Also, the banana flavor was real true banana, not that gross fake Runts banana taste that makes your mouth feel fuzzy. Ketch enjoyed the same on a crunchy cone and gobbled his up in a matter of minutes. Other flavors included Coconut Chai and Strawberry Pink Peppercorn, and any ice cream could be smushed between 2 locally made vegan cookies (also in an array of wacky flavors).
Thank you, Little Baby's, for being my vegan ice cream oasis when it's needed most. I guess I'll just have to keep planning more trips to Philly this summer....