Let’s all Scream for Ice Cream!

Catherine-KaufmanKitchen Shrink

By Catharine Kaufman

Ice cream has evolved from its purist period of jerk-scooped service with mono-textures and limited flavors that could be counted on one hand with fingers left over to the present day explosion of both the former and latter. Today the world of frozen treats accommodates practically every palate, dietary restriction, cultural tastes and gustatory fantasy imaginable. Here’s the scoop on the weird, wacky and wonderful line-up of icy bliss to help you chill for the dog days of summer:

Fabulous Frosty Freaks

Japanese ice cream makers handcraft exotic flavors titillating those with a yen for culinary adventure, including shark fin noodle, raw horseflesh, saury fish, poisonous pit viper, ox tongue and octopus. And for more mainstream palates there’s wasabi, garlic, sesame, soybean and dried kelp. Sea Rocket Bistro in North Park concocts a creation reminiscent of the kitschy flavors from the Pacific west in its signature Sea Urchin gelato blended with lavender sea salt, orange honey and candied ginger. Earlier this summer Carl Jr. was offering ice cream “brrrrgers”—trompe l’oeil ice cream sandwiches that mocked hamburgers. Chocolate ice cream replicated the patty, amaretto sugar cookies for the buns and ketchup, mustard and relish colored ganache for special effects.

Gelato Gone Wild

Traditional gelaterias serve a smorgasbord of flavors from stracciatella (Italian chocolate chip), tiramisu and Donatella (chocolate hazelnut) to lemon and mango sorbets. Reinventing the classic gelato flavors to excite spicy, herbal palates is Chuao Chocolatier (La Jolla’s UTC, Del Mar Highlands and Encinitas Lumberyard) with such intriguing concoctions as Spicy Maya dialing-up dark chocolate with pasilla chili, cayenne pepper and cinnamon, Amaretto Di Saronno packed with an almond punch, along with seasonal flavors of Coconut Chip and Salted Caramel gelatos, and Strawberry Basil and Mojito sorbets.

Rachel King, pastry chef for Brian Malarkey’s hip fabric-named eateries around town has created frozen delectables starting with staple sundaes on each menu. Gabardine’s King Sundae smothers peanut butter ice cream with bananas, bacon, caramel sauce and whipped cream. Herringbone’s “Baked California” combines lemon cake with lemon verbena frozen yogurt and blueberry sorbet enveloped in toasted meringue.

While Burlap has a Melon Vacherin with watermelon sorbet. Some of King’s from scratch made ice creams include Vietnamese Coffee, Olive Oil, Mascarpone and Caramel Corn along with invigorating sorbets of fig, mango chile and cherry balsamic.

An Ice Cream Walks into a Bar. . .

La Jolla’s frou-frou ice cream boutique has raised the bar from the days of the Good Humor man’s pedestrian offerings. Bardot’s designer ice cream bars are as sexy as they are scrumptious. These handmade luxury “love” bars are stamped with logos of lips and other kitschy images in rich jewel tones or smothered in Belgian chocolate, and symbolically impaled with hot little scarlet sticks. The Bardot Collection features such selections as “Italian Mob” coffee ice cream and chocolate covered coffee beans, and “First Love” of toasted pecan ice cream and chewy caramel, while the Classic Collection boasts “Acapulco Love,” with handpicked manila mangos from farms in Guerrero Mexico, or “The French Kiss” with toasted almond ice cream swathed in milk chocolate.

Sustainable Sorbets

If you visit farmer’s markets around town you’ve probably spotted the cute little ice cream cart selling healthful and invigorating Viva Pops crafted from scratch with local organic fruits and herbs sourced from Paradise Valley, J & R Organics, among others, and goat cheese from Modesto California. The frozen pop flavors change with the seasons, some inspired by the zesty Mexican-style “paletas,” such as Pineapple Chili. For herbal fruity palates try Lavender Lemonade, Peach Ginger and Nectarine Basil.

Tender Tummies

For those lactose-intolerant ice cream lovers, some of the major players are churning out non-dairy based frozen goodies like soy decoys, icy rices, hemp temptations and “milks” of almond, hazelnut and coconut. Sorbets are also easy on the gut along with frozen goat milk treats. Ben & Jerry’s has launched a line of probiotic frozen Greek Yogurts such as Raspberry Fudge Chunk and Peanut Butter Banana that’ll “rock your acropolis” but ease your acid.

You can create your own simple fruity pops by filling assorted molds with crushed fruit, juices or non-dairy drinks, goat cheese or yoghurts, inserting sticks and freezing.

Alas, there are only three rules to prudent ice cream consumption –don’t eat too quickly to avoid brain-freeze, don’t eat too slowly to avoid vanilla bean soup, and know your limits.

Here’s a refreshing and simple summer treat, just enough off center to make it interesting and fun.


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