This summer has reached its peak and it’s been as hot as I know and love it during the past 2 months. I gotta say, New York summers are the best season this city has to offer. Spring is nice because it gives you a glimpse of the upcoming heat waves and because it is relatively mild compared to other regions (Germany’s spring is blistering cold, especially at night). Fall is wonderful with its change of colors (you can witness in the parks), and its mellow temperatures. Winter is simply awful. Bright Christmas lights, how wonderful; snow fall, how pretty! But then you get over it and start wondering when the nightmare of never-ending muddy snow hills together with the bitter cold wind blowing in your face will end.
So summer is really the best season. It is hot, hotter, hottest! The best time for the beach, open-air events, travels to the surrounding areas, and wearing appealing dresses. The best time for alcoholic beverages under star-lit skies on top of a roof. The best time to stroll the streets at a drunkenly happy hour. I think you get the idea!
Because summer is so outrageously hot here, you can only survive if you are on a constant look-out for summer refreshments. And this year I have had the resources and interest in pursuing these. Voila, ladies and gentlemen, here is a fine list of New York’s ULTIMATE SUMMER REFRESHMENTS.
1) Latin Ice Cream from a Random Stand
This is what cheap, syrup-infused ice cream looks like in New York. It is sold by preferably Mexican merchants on various street corners or dragged in a cart along the beach. Prices vary, as I paid stunning $2 around Union Square for two large scoops, but most sellers try to rip you off (if you can talk of it that way) and charge you $3 for it. Thus, you could get one scoop, which does its job refreshingly well, for the low price of $1. Shall I call this the dollar-ice-cream? I don’t know. It comes in a variety of flavors, from coconut (natural flavor), over rainbow (syrup-induced flavor) and cherry to mango. And awwww, do they taste decent. I love the fact that they are sold by Middle-Americans – it adds an exotic note to all of this.
4) Bubble Tea from an Asian Restaurant
Hmmm, what could this be?! When I heard my friend in Williamsburg ask me out for a bubble tea, I was a bit perplexed at first. We don’t have this in Germany. I’m not even sure if we have this in the rest of Europe. It just didn’t hit our market yet. Bubble tea is flavored Asian tea, most of the time green or black tea, with fruity flavors (syrup or natural), and with milk if desired. Sounds good already? Well, add a good amount of “pearls” made of tapioca to that – the bubbles to the tea. It comes with an oversized straw and when you take a sip a pearl shoots up with the drink. When I first tried it, I thought the feeling was too weird for me. It’s like sushi: You have to try it a couple of times before you will love it or hate it. I didn’t turn my back on it and now I am all bubbled up. You find it in Thai or Vietnamese restaurants, but don’t try their sandwich, its dry texture lacks flavor and taste.
3) Ice Cream in Park Slope/Brooklyn
This is by far the best ice cream I have found in entire New York! Forget the Ice Cream Factory at Brooklyn Bridge; disregard the overpriced scoops in Little Italy. If you want to find quality and taste, you better hop on the train to Prospect Park. Located just off the 15th St-Prospect Park stop on the F-line, Scoopz is sweetly embedded in the stoic buildings so typical for the Slope. And, even cuter, there is a window through which you can try two flavors and order either ice cream, gelato (by the way, gelato is Italian for ice cream, so I am not sure how they differentiate their products here), or sorbet. One day my Austrian friend and I were walking by and in the mood for a refreshment, so we ordered a small cup each. The small size was not that small after all and the flavors were surprisingly amazing. I tried various but have stuck to the best: Peanut Butter Caramel Cookie Dough. That’s right, it’s one flavor and tastes unforgettably good. And get the small version , it will do. For $2 a piece it is really not pricy at all. The only drawback is that I walk by way too often and, well … temptation likes to overcome me on occasion.
4) Jamba Juice
Cheers to Jamba Juice! Juicy, fruity, healthy, cool smoothies! I was first introduced to Jamba Juice in the second week I arrived here (we were going through an early spring) and have been a faithful follower of it ever since. You have incredible flavors mixed with even more incredible flavors and what it comes out to be is a nice vitamin shake. I’m really not sure how many vitamins remain after the fruit is chopped up and turned into a smoothie. But it sure looks healthy as you can watch the servers prepare your special order. A tip from me: Small is more than enough in this case, too. I know Americans are frantically seeking out the large, larger, overlarge, but a small and cold smoothie will do your stomach best. Anything else is just too much. This might be one of the things I will miss when moving away.
And what rather not to get:
1) Frozen Yoghurt at Roastown Coffee
I give you this, it looks like ice cream and has the texture of ice cream. But it isn’t. Now I myself am not too much of a frozen yoghurt fan and only tried this out because my coworkers were excited over it. When I walked in, there were 5 machines with three flavors each, so you can choose from 15 different tastes. Hurray hurray. If only they were to taste good. I got cheesecake, mango and blueberry, and was not convinced. With 0.50 per pound (a pound is really not that much) it tends to be pricey. I felt like I should have given my $4 rather to the homeless guy than to this establishment. But hey, maybe you‘ll be convinced, just saying.
2) Fast Food Stuff
Wendy’s has 99ct Frosties, and McDonalds has its Sunday Ice Cream. Albeit I love the Chocolate Sundae version, it really does not represent New York that well. Come on, you can get that sugary crap anywhere else, even in Europe. Wendy’s not, of course, that is restricted to the free continent, but beware of the frostie, as you won’t be able to suck it up like a milk shake but need a spoon to scoop it. And no, I didn’t know this before. McDonalds has a great smoothie, though, it came out last year and it tastes pretty good. Get that if you want!
Now, I heard of a mysterious fruit juice place in the Village, which I am desperate to check out. I might keep you updated on this one. Or carry the dark secret with me until doom’s day.