Brooklyn-based Van Leeuwen Ice Cream will celebrate the opening of its third Houston-area location with a special collaboration. When it opens in the Montrose Collective mixed-use development on Wednesday, February 23, the ice cream shop will feature a flavor created by Christine Ha, chef-owner of Houston restaurants The Blind Goat and Xin Chao.
Named "Bananas for Cheese,” it's inspired by a childhood snack Ha's mother made for her. The flavor starts with a base of gouda and mascarpone blended with house made banana jam and milk chocolate chips. Its flavor may be compared to a banana-chocolate cheesecake.
"It is fun and exciting to develop a signature ice cream for the opening of the Montrose location,” Ha said in a statement. “The Bananas for Cheese flavor was inspired by Laughing Cow cheese and bananas, which was a combination my mother would put together as a snack for me when I was growing up. It was her way of getting me to eat my least favorite fruit — most of the time it was Laughing Cow cheese, but sometimes in a pinch, I’d even eat bananas with plain ole’ American cheese slices!”
Bananas for Cheese will be sold by the scoop at Van Leeuwen's new Montrose location as well as at both of Ha's restaurants while supplies last.
“We’re so happy to be partnering with one of the most talented chefs in Houston. Chef Ha shares our passion for the culinary innovation process, it was so much fun and so delicious coming up with this flavor together.” Van Leeuwen co-founder and CEO Ben Van Leeuwen added. “We love experimenting with unique flavor and taste profiles that complement our creamy, chewy unctuous ice cream bases, so working with chef Ha on the opening was a natural fit. We can’t wait for Houstonians to enjoy this exclusive flavor that speaks to her cultural heritage."
For those who missed Van Leeuwen’s first Houston location opening last year in Rice Village, the company makes ice cream with rigorously sourced, high-quality ingredients from around the world. Regulations require its packaging to be labeled “French ice cream,” because it uses too much egg yolk to be “regular” ice cream. Van Leeuwen also offers an extensive lineup of vegan flavors as well as sundaes, milkshakes, and ice cream sandwiches.
A second location opened in Uptown Park last summer.
Van Leeuwen is one of several food concepts opening in Montrose Collective. It's already home to Uchi and Idle Hands, a rooftop bar with Caribbean-inspired food and drinks. In the coming months, the development will add Marmo, an Italian steakhouse from Loch Bar owners Atlas Restaurant Group; Picnik, an allergy-friendly restaurant from Austin; and Graffiti Raw, a new concept from Gratify owner Grant Cooper.