David Leichman has always loved ice cream.
“I think it’s in my blood,” he says.
David always loved eating ice cream, and when he was eight years old, he had had the best birthday party ever: A surprise party at Jahn’s ice cream parlour - a real old fashioned ice-cream parlour where everyone made banana splits.
But ice cream wasn’t just for special occasions: As a kid, David had a paper route, and after he and his best friend delivered their papers, they would meet for ice-cream. That’s how they would spend their earnings. Not on comic books. Not on baseball cards. But on ice cream.
In junior high school, his mother would give him money to get sandwiches, and he always bought three sandwiches —ice cream sandwiches.
“That was my lunch,” David says. “i was always the crazy ice cream person.”
"Even at my bar mitzvah, I was dressed up as an ice cream man, and we had ice cream cones that never melted. I don’t want to know what ingredients were in that ice cream, and today, when I make my ice cream, it’s the opposite. All fresh, all natural.”
David’s ice cream melts. It’s natural. It’s made without preservatives. He’s committed to using the freshest, purest ingredients — when possible, he uses ingredients that are locally grown in Israel.
And sweet, melty ice-cream is part of the whole sensual experience of eating ice cream.
It’s cold, and it’s sweet, and it feels just right in your mouth.
David has been making ice cream for over 40 years — from New York, through Northern California, to a new kibbutz that he helped create next to an ancient archaeological site built by King Solomon — and he wants ice cream to be a sensual experience of intentional tasting.
“Feel the cold. What does it do to your mouth? What do you taste? Where do you feel it?” he’ll ask.
Part of what makes David so special is he loves people - people from all backgrounds and walks of life, his friends cross religious boundaries, and span the generations. Language, culture, age, religion don’t matter so long as you’re a good person - and you like ice cream. And David loves bringing people together to taste his ice cream.
“Eating ice cream is fun,” he says. “You giggle. You smile. You’re happy.”
And it’s true - you ARE happy when eating David’s ice cream because it tastes good. David takes his ingredients seriously. And his love of the land and the cycle of the seasons, along with his background in culinary school informs the choices he makes when he makes his ice cream.
So, you might taste Madagasgar vanilla. Or coffee imported from Kenya. Or Velrhona chocolate. Or mint grown from his very own garden. Or orange from his orchards. Or mangoes he buys fresh from the shuk in Ramle. Or Tahina from his best friend’s restaurant.
But David is an artist, not a scientist — so each batch of the same flavour is always a little bit different. But the quality never changes.
David is also a visionary, and he wants to create the ice-cream revolution here in Israel.
He wants to open an American style ice cream saloon for his creamy, delicious ice cream. This isn’t going to be the gelato place in the mall, or your frozen yogurt store with all the toppings. David will serve flights of ice cream - you can get creamsicle paired with vanilla, or pistachio and coffee and tahina. And you can sit there and talk to the people serving who know their stuff and can make recommendations while Benny Goodman or the Supremes croon in the background, and people from all over come to hang out and eat the best ice cream in the world, and experience mindful tasting.
Because really, ice cream shouldn’t only be about eating something sweet and cold — it should be an experience of quality and the complexity of ice cream that is balanced with texture, temperature, sugar and the nuance of flavours.
"It isn’t just chocolate ice-cream,” David says. “It’s a quality chocolate ice cream with depth and intention.”
And intentional ice cream tasting is part of experiencing ice cream to its fullest:
Wine tastings changed the way we experienced wine. Same with cheese, and bread, and now, even coffee. David wants to do the same with ice cream - where it isn’t something you eat because it’s there and you’re in the mood for a dessert — you eat it because you want that transcendent moment that takes you out of the ordinary and into the extraordinary, where you experience a richness in flavour and texture, and share it with others. This is not ice cream to eat while you watch Seinfeld reruns —this is ice cream to eat for a full, mindful experience either alone, or with people you really like.