Review of Wheeler’s Ice Cream

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Man, this review’s overdue.

Back at the beginning of the year, I sat down with my wife (not vegan, but nearly so) and my sister-in-law (straight omni with a serious dairy addiction… I’m sure she’d love that classification) to try out a handful of flavors sent down by the kind folks up at Wheeler’s.

Buzz started forming about Wheeler’s from the moment they started handing out ice cream in 2007 at the Boston Vegetarian Food Festival.

Here’s a compiled summary of our comments on each flavor:

Pumpkin

This was my favorite of the bunch.  It’s a really unique idea for a flavor and tastes exactly what you’d imagine pumpkin pie in ice cream form would taste like.  It’s super creamy and intense.  Love it, love it.

My wife liked the richness and thought it was thick, much like pie.  Sis-in-law said the taste lingered a little too long afterwards, but still liked it because it wasn’t overly sweet.

Butter Pecan

Seriously: vegan butter pecan!  It’s been ages since I’ve had butter pecan ice cream, but this is exactly how I remember it.  Creamy, nutty… just great.  Sister-in-law tasted a sourness and indicated a preference for its dairy counterpart.

My wife said, "I could eat a whole tub of this."  I didn’t ask her to clarify if she meant an ice cream tub or a bathtub because I know my own preferences would have tended towards the latter.

Black Raspberry

Not normally my favorite flavor, but I enjoyed this.  My sister-in-law liked this one a lot, comparing it to a sorbet.  She said the sour taste she was getting with the other flavors was less out-of-place here.  My wife said she liked it a lot, but missed the bits of berry.  "Might have been good with bits of black cherry, too."

Pina Colada (with alcohol)

Good, but not my favorite.  Nice chunks of pineapple and coconut.  Not as smooth of a consistency as the other flavors.  Both of the other tasters liked it a lot, ranking it among their favorites.

Double Chocolate Chip

Uber-chocolatey.  Smooth and creamy with nice, small chunks of chocolate.  I thought there was a very slight aftertaste, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.  My wife loved this one, liking both the taste ("a chocolate lover’s dream") and crunch.  My sister-in-law said it was very rich and that it "tastes like [dairy] chocolate ice cream" even though she prefers a sweeter chocolate.

Overall impressions of Wheeler’s

We’re at an interesting point with regards to vegan ice cream in the US.  We’ve pretty much reached the peak with companies like So Delicious (their mint chocolate chip and pomegranate chip are awesome) and Temptation (everything is awesome), but Wheeler’s every bit as good.  So, it’s awesome.  And more awesomeness is a good thing.

Where I think Wheeler’s will really succeed is in their niche of custom specialty flavors. Check out some of the flavors they’ve perfected already.  I’m really curious to see where they take their business and what they do in terms of distribution.  Because, really, the world needs to taste their pumpkin ice cream.  And I want to be able to get some at a moment’s notice.

Like, now.  Now would be good.

You can visit Wheeler’s site at icecreamproject.com and keep an eye on their blog for frequent updates about tasting events around the country.

A week, recapped

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Downtime, part 2

The server the Veg Blog is hosted on hit some rough patches over the last few days. There was the 36 hour outage to start the weekend and then a disk failure to start this week. Fortunately, data was moved safely (with no loss, as far as I can tell) and things seem relatively stable now. Remind me to make a backup of things just in case, OK?

My presentation

Thanks to everyone who asked how my presentation at UMW went. While the crowd wasn’t enormous, about ten people, it was a decent enough size for me to start getting more comfortable talking about veganism and animal rights in front of a group. About half of the attendees were vegetarian or vegan and the other half were meat eaters, with one or two of them falling under the “considering vegetarianism” heading. I think the presentation itself went relatively well… I was a little nervous, probably went overboard with “um”s, and could stand to make more eye contact, but overall I think I hit a decent enough balance of information and humor.

Afterwards, there was a discussion amongst the veg*ns in the group about challenges faced with family, at school (like the cafeteria staff using “vegetarian” and “vegan” interchangeably when labeling food), and even a little talk about the welfare vs. abolition argument that was the fancy trend in 2007 and may rear its head again now that the AR and TAFA conferences are in sight. It took a little prodding to get an omni to talk, but eventually one did speak up and say while she respected vegans a lot, she “liked meat too much” (slide 3!) and wouldn’t ever give it up. While I didn’t get to delve into that any more deeply, she did say she thought that vegans needed to be more active than just being vegan. This sparked some good responses. Morgan, who organized the talk and heads up the AR group at UMW, said she thought that being vegan was the most active thing one could do because it’s taking a belief and living it every moment of your life. Another recently converted vegan spoke up and said she thought it was hypocritical for people that protested for animal rights to not be vegan.

All in all, it was a good talk and I hope everyone there enjoyed it. Thanks to the UMW crew for having me out. Let’s do it again.

I’d hoped to record my talk, but completely forgot until about 1/4 of the way through. Here are the slides if you want to take a look.

Lunch with Bazu

Today I had lunch at the always-excellent A Taste of Burma (their site is down as of this posting) with Bazu of Where’s the Revolution. Bazu’s been a long-time commenter on the Veg Blog, so I was happy she was able to take some time out of her visit with family to meet up for lunch. She’ll be posting pictures of our food over on her blog when she gets home.

A few minutes before she arrived, I had a chance to talk with the owner of A Taste of Burma, who’s possibly one of the nicest guys on the planet. I asked him a question that had been burning on my mind for the last couple of months. You may remember I wrote a while back about the amazing fermented tea leaf salad that they make using really hard-to-get leaves from Burma. I’d gotten addicted to it and eventually looked up the recipe only to be shocked to see that every recipe called for fish sauce and dried shrimp powder. I feared the worst, but was pleasantly surprised when he told me that while that’s the traditional way of making Lephet Thote, A Taste of Burma doesn’t use fish sauce or the dried shrimp. Phew. Crisis averted.

Guess what I ordered for lunch today.

Downtime

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Sorry for the massive (almost 36 hours, by my calculations) downtime. Big hosting issues yesterday, it seems.

Things look to be back to normal now.

links for 2008-04-08

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Veg Blog Speaking Event: Why Isn’t Everybody Vegan?

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You may remember a post I wrote last year titled “10 Ways to be a Kick-Ass Vegan.”  Number nine on that list was “Give a talk,” something about which I said: “Here’s one I’ve been meaning to work up the nerve to do for a while now.  Ideally, I’d like to find a group of young or beginning vegetarians to talk to about veganism, like a high school or college animal rights group.”  Well, I’m finally taking that step and doing my first AR-themed talk.

The talk will be titled, “Why Isn’t Everybody Vegan?” and will focus on the multitude of reasons that people use for not changing their diet and lifestyle, even if it may be completely in line with their ethical beliefs.  It’s part of Animal Rights Week at the University of Mary Washington (Fredericksburg, VA), which is an ambitious week of outreach by a new and small (but dedicated) Animal Rights Club at UMW.

It just so happens that UMW is my alma mater and being the talk will be in my major’s building, so this talk should be extra fun.  Here are the details:

Why Isn’t Everybody Vegan?

When you make the transition to veganism, it’s hard not to be
enthusiastic about it.  It all seems so right and obvious and you
begin to wonder why everyone else isn’t making the same connection.
This talk will look at the reasons people aren’t vegan (“It’s too
extreme,” “I love cheese too much,” etc.) and how to counter those arguments in others (or yourself).

Where: University of Mary Washington, Fredericksburg, VA (Trinkle Hall Monroe Hall, room TBA)

When: Wednesday April 9, 2008; 6pm

What else?: There’ll be food.  So come, eat something, and listen to me blabber on about why veganism is the greatest thing since sliced (vegan) bread.

More info: The event’s Facebook page

If you’re in the area, come on by and say hi.  I’ll be the nervous one at the front of the room.