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DF Mavens 1 Coffee Shops Ice Cream East Village

When I arrived at DF Mavens on a frosty February afternoon, I was greeted by the warmth of the welcoming staff at this new scoop shop. Janiri Jerez, who has been with the cafe since its opening in December 2014, offered me a warm cup of coffee with my choice of soy or almond creamer, since there are no dairy products in the store. “DF” stands for “dairy free” and Mavens is Yiddish for “expert.”

The shop’s supervisor, Rebecca Coltun, explained to me that DF was founded by the “godfather of ice cream,” Malcolm Stogo. Stogo, an ice cream scientist and founder of Ice Cream University, invented the chocolate dipped waffle cone and has served as a consultant for brands like Häagen Daz, Carvel, and TCBY. To accommodate those with lactose sensitivities, vegan dining preferences, and the desire to take a health conscious approach to ice cream, Stogo developed the DF Maven brand and began producing the frozen treats for both the café and retailers like Whole Foods. The brand works from New York’s only ice cream factory, located in Astoria, Queens, which also happens to be a Kosher facility.

Rebecca, who was raised macrobiotic, explained to me that despite the fact that everything in the DF Mavens shop is vegan and dairy free, the desserts are meant to be approachable and desirable to everyone. The DF Mavens ice cream flavors use coconut, soy, or almond milk instead of cream as their base. The soy-based New Orleans Salted Praline is the café’s bestseller, though Rebecca prefers the Del Lago Chocolate, and Janiri loves a mixture of Green Tea and Acai Berry.

When it was my turn to sample the selection, Janiri scooped dollops of the strawberry and blueberry cookie ice creams for me to try. I was pleasantly surprised by how much the non-traditional bases augmented the flavor of the ice cream, and how the crumbly texture of the cookie pieces was not lost within the swirl. A treat indeed.

While ice cream is the main attraction at DF Mavens, Rebecca and Janiri were quick to let me know it is not the only highlight. The shop also offers a full menu of coffee and espresso drinks - the beans are sourced from a family-run farm in Brazil. A juice bar next to the ice cream counter offers smoothies and shakes, and Brazilia - DF Mavens’ sister store - regularly delivers sandwiches, wraps, soups, salads, and breakfast items. The store manager Pamela even brews unique lemonades for guests to taste each day. The pitcher was full of a jalapeño-cucumber drink when I visited. The baked goods are also impressive - A member of the Sideways team, Olivia, who does not consider a meal without dairy to be a real meal at all, tasted a blueberry muffin and asked “Are you sure there’s no butter in this?”

The creative DF Mavens team has been working to bring even more of their dreams for their store to fruition. Soon there will be a salad bar and cold press juice station, and there is talk of house-made almond milk.

Rebecca hopes to see what is currently the only DF Mavens cafe in the country become a new neighborhood staple, a familiar place for locals to stop by for an easy, healthy grab-and-go snack, drink, or even meal. She says that amidst all the piercing and tattoo parlors of the street, DF Mavens is a neutral, non-intimidating place for visitors to relax.

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Peridance Capezio Center is a mecca for dance in NYC, fostering the arts in the local and international dance communities, for over 30 years.  Peridance offers multiple platforms for dancers and non-dancers alike, including more than 250 weekly open classes, a Professional Training Programs, an F-1 Visa Program for International Students, and The School at Peridance - a comprehensive children and teen program.  Their adult open classes are offered in all styles and levels, from Absolute Beginner to Advanced. Peridance Capezio Center is also home to the professional dance company, Peridance Contemporary Dance Company and its affiliated Peridance Youth Ensemble. In conjunction with their renowned faculty and partners (Capezio, Djoniba Dance Centre, Limón Dance Company, Baila Society, and Dance Informa), Peridance has gained an international reputation for the programs it offers. The Center is housed in a beautiful landmark building featuring six spacious studios, The Salvatore Capezio Theater, the Peridance Coffee Shop, and the Capezio dance-wear Boutique.One afternoon, I had the privilege of stopping by the Peridance Capezio Center to observe their students training. I witnessed the explosive athleticism and technical discipline at play in Shannon Gillen’s Advanced Contemporary class, as students tested the strength of their bodies in an array of conditioning and floor exercises. Later, in the large upstairs Studio 1, bathed in the sun’s rays from the skylights above, I watched as dancers chasséd and pirouetted across the room in Breton Tyner-Bryan’s Advanced-Intermediate Ballet class. I would not be surprised to find any one of these talented performers on stage someday.

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What a find...down a flight of stairs from street level on 8th Street, Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor is the "antithesis of a sports bar." Artisan and craft beer are brought together in a friendly environment that certainly had us feeling like we were right at home. The Parlor is also named for the Arts and Crafts movement, “a cultural revolt against the ideals of industrialization.”When we visited, we spoke to Robert, one of the two owners, with whom we thoroughly enjoyed chatting. Robert is an internationally recognized speaker and writer on dining out and traveling with special diets (he co-authored the series Let’s Eat Out!), and he also has a background in acting and producing on Broadway. He told us that the other owner, Don, has an impressive resume working with the FBI and counterterrorism efforts both in New York and around the world - which left us wondering what brought this dynamic duo together as friends and eventually co-owners. Robert informed us it was a love of American Craft Beer and the visual and performing arts...and that they actually met enjoying a pint of beer in Manhattan.Just as intriguing as its owners, the interior of Arts and Crafts is beautifully designed; the sophisticated wallpaper is custom made by Bradbury and Bradbury, and the soft green and beige pattern was Frank Lloyd Wright’s favorite, supposedly. The constantly changing art is displayed along the wall opposite the bar, and an exposed brick wall and fireplace give the parlor a true “extension of your living room” feel. Described by Robert, as the “Bugatti of beer systems,” the twenty plus beers the Parlor keeps on tap rotate monthly and are kept by this state of the art system at a refreshing 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Robert also astounded us with how small the carbon footprint of the Parlor is — he told us they are very conscious of keeping things compostable and earth-friendly. In addition to their rotating display of art from both established and up-and-coming artists, the Arts and Crafts Beer Parlor also hosts a monthly lecture series on the subjects of art as well as culinary topics. We could not get enough of how interesting this place is — both the concept of art and beer coming together and the two fascinating minds behind it.

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Van Leeuwen began as just a couple of ice cream trucks back in 2008. A few years later, they opened their first brick-and-mortar store on 7th Street and have since gone on to add other permanent shops in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Owners Ben, Pete, and Laura and their team are extremely concerned with the quality of their product and whence they source ingredients. The vanilla flavor comes from organic bourbon and Tahitian vanilla orchids, and the chocolate comes from a family-run French company with free trade practices, Michele Cluizel Chocolate. Van Leeuwen also offers sophisticated flavors like sweet sticky black rice, earl grey tea, Ceylon cinnamon, and salted caramel with buffalo trace bourbon. When I visited in the summer of 2016, the two trending Van Leeuwen flavors were honeycomb and ginger, but, as Van Leeuwen is always adding new specialty flavors, I am sure that the favorites change quite often. Among the recently added at the time were chocolate banana cream pie and Mexican chocolate birthday cake. Though veganism seems to be a bit of trend, especially with the Vegolution, it has limitations in the ice cream community - but not at Van Leeuwen. Their vegan options are made with only “coconut and cashew milk, raw cocoa butter, extra virgin olive oil, and organic sugar cane.” For many years, the shop has offered vegan scoops in flavors ranging from chocolate chip cookie dough to matcha green tea. “People appreciate that we have it,” explained an employee, “and they are just as popular as the others.”