Eating Nostrand Avenue: Taste the Tropics

imageSunny and 63 degrees in the second week of February! On the last such frighteningly unseasonable day, a few weeks ago, I arranged my tempo run (expect a Boston marathon training post soon) so that my cool down would end right around Nostrand and Avenue D. That’s where Taste the Tropics dominates its corner through sheer exuberance and force of personality.

This was only the second time I’d been there. The first was with friends, more than ten years ago, before I moved here or had any reason to believe I ever would. We were driving back to Boerum Hill from Brighton Beach when one of them said, “Hey, aren’t we near that West Indian ice cream place? Wanna stop?”

After a few turns, there we were. Guinness was one of the flavors on offer. And soursop, and Grape-Nut, as in the cereal. Three cones later, we hopped back into the car and the ice cream melted together with the sand and the gulls and the boardwalk kvass and the unfamiliar storefronts whizzing past into a happy, but vague, Brooklyn summer memory.

Years passed, and I couldn’t remember the name of the place, or what street it was on, or even the general neighborhood. And then, last summer, I read this article in the New York Times metropolitan section and thought: “of course.”

It took me a while to get there, as summer turned into fall turned into winter, but there I was one January morning. Since they weren’t crowded, I asked the kid studying behind the counter if I could have a taste of the Guinness. It tasted smooth and creamy and cold, but not, alas, like Guinness. Nor did the “tropical rumnut” (my eventual order) taste very rummy. It was, however, loaded with both dried fruit and slightly chewy, oddly malty nuts that, I realized, were Grape-Nuts (aka “greatnuts” here), yielding up their crunch to the cause.

One word of caution: the scoops here are generous, and the ice cream extremely creamy. So generous and so creamy, that even a hungry runner on a 60 degree day was unable to eat it quickly enough to prevent the overflow from dripping onto her hands and worse. (A street vendor took pity on me and gave me some paper towels from his cart.) No matter how many napkins you are offered, you will likely need more.

Next time – for variety’s sake, and to conserve on napkins – I’m going to get one of those tropical milkshakes that the posted signs promise will tickle my heart. Though the store itself has already done that: how can you not love a place that tells its customers right up front, “Thank GOD for you”?


Mentioned in this post:

Taste the Tropics, 1839 Nostrand Ave, Brooklyn 11226


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