UNITED STATES—The temperature has been rising steadily all week, with a forecast of high 80s in Los Angeles. I am all for warmer weather; anything above 80 degrees is perfect. I can finally drag out last year’s shorts and skirts and give my ghostly legs a much-needed glimpse of sunlight. I no longer have to huddle under layers during trips to the beach, and the temperature no longer drops twenty degrees once the sun goes down. And here’s one of the best parts of summer: ice cream.
Don’t get me wrong; cold desserts are just as appealing in cooler weather. In fact, some people claim that ice cream should be eaten during the winter, not summer. But when temperatures rise to nearly a hundred degrees and the California sun becomes relentless, a bite of cold, creamy, melting ice cream is just the remedy.
Like everything else, ice cream appears to go through trends, especially more so now with the continuing rise of social media, where food must both look good and taste good. A few emerging ice cream trends have captured my interest, and I’ll likely be following the lines to try them out.
Rolled and Tucked
In a cone, on a stick, dipped in chocolate—we’ve seen them all. But rolled ice cream, of Thai origin, is on another level, both aesthetically pleasing and convenient to eat. Liquid ice cream is poured onto a frozen metal pen and scraped into neat rolls, tucked into a cup, then topped with fruit, sweets, and drizzles of syrup.
Holy Roly in Koreatown serves flavors such as strawberry with banana slices and Nutella, vanilla with graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, and maple syrup, and earl grey. Chelo in City of Industry boasts concoctions such as “Downtown Funk,” with durian and coconut, and “Good-Zooky,” with matcha green tea, red bean, and mochi. Sweet Cup, a newly established business in Garden Grove, takes the concept further and serves the rolls in taco shell-shaped waffle cones.
Who remembers classic ice cream sandwiches, with vanilla ice cream between two chocolate wafers? These days, ice cream connoisseurs are moving on from plain vanilla and rectangular wafers.
Instagram-famous Afters Ice Cream, which has locations all over Southern California, serves their ice cream nestled in their one-of-a-kind Milky Buns, which resemble glazed donuts. Churro Borough, located in the heart of Los Feliz, offers scoops of ice cream sandwiched between churro discs, making for a dessert that is at once warm, cold, soft, and crunchy. MILK, with shops in the Fairfax area and Silver Lake, is known for their giant macaron sandwiches, with slabs of ice cream almost two inches thick. And of course, we can’t forget Coolhaus, a cookie sandwich company which started out as a food truck, or Diddy Riese, the original establishment in Westwood that began selling scoops in between freshly baked cookies.
Soft serve ice cream, which is softer than traditional ice cream due to air being introduced during freezing, is certainly a long-adored treat. Who can forget dollar vanilla cones from McDonald’s? In recent years, soft serve has become even more popular, perhaps due to its simplicity.
For instance, the CVT Soft Serve truck offers only three flavors but have gained thousands of fans. The East Coast transplant travels around Los Angeles serving chocolate, vanilla, and twist out of a cream and brown 1960s Mr. Softee truck, which adds to the nostalgia. Magpies Softserve in Silver Lake and Tarzana, which makes its ice cream in house, serves classic flavors with a twist, including Sweetened Cream, Malted Milk Chocolate, and Toasted Marshmallow.
Honeymee, inspired from South Korean ice cream, has established locations around Los Angeles and Orange County over the past few years. Their concept is truly simple: creamy, “true milk” ice cream is served with a drizzle of honey or a chunk of honeycomb. Their menu has expanded to include chocolate, caramel, and matcha varieties. SomiSomi, which also takes its inspiration from Korean desserts, sells soft serve in fish-shaped taiyaki cones, known as “Ah-Boong” in Korean. Located in Koreatown, their flavors include Green Tea, Banana, and Milk Tea, and the cone can be filled with custard, red bean, or Nutella.
In this time and day, we are constantly looking for “new”: emerging fashion trends, the latest electronic devices, and of course, new flavors in food. Salt & Straw, a Portland-based ice cream shop with locations in Los Angeles and San Francisco, has a rotating seasonal menu that utilizes fresh fruits and even vegetables. Its regular menu includes flavors such as Honey Lavender and Freckled Woodblock Chocolate, but its current monthly menu features Top of the Beet, Whey-Preserved Strawberries, and Spent Grain with Blackberry Fig Jam.
Sweet Rose Creamery, located in Brentwood, Mid-City, Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, and Studio City, also offers a unique monthly menu alongside its fixed menu. Current flavors include Old Rasputin Stout with Spicy Peanut, Sour Cream with Apricot Ripple, Coco Lime, and Berry Sorbet. Other flavors will be available throughout July and August, including Sweet Corn, Buttermilk Sherbet with Strawberry Ripple, Melon Ripple with Vanilla Cake, Peaches n’ Cream, and Stone Fruit Sorbet, according to sources.
For other unique flavor options, ice cream lovers can visit Ihwamun in Little Tokyo, which makes its ice cream in house using traditional Korean flavors. Popular items include Injeolmi, based on a glutinous rice cake covered in roasted soybean powder, and Choco Pie, based on a popular chocolate and marshmallow snack similar to the American Moon Pie.
Speaking of unusual flavors, black ice cream has been popping up on social media sites frequently over the past few weeks. The trend has been referred to as the “anti-unicorn,” in response to the popularity of pastel and sprinkle-covered desserts this year.
Little Damage in downtown LA has garnered much attention this spring with its pure black soft serve, in flavors such as Almond Charcoal and Black Roses, served in black waffle cones. The Almond Charcoal gets its color from activated charcoal, which is believed to have purifying benefits, though this is still a topic of debate. Little Damage offers other unique flavors such as Mango Sticky Rice, Just Beet It, and Thai Tea.
Sure, summer won’t last forever. But I intend to savor every lick of ice cream I have this season while these trends last, no matter how long the lines get.