West Coast Ice Cream Tour, Part I: Beachy Cream, Mother Moo Creamery & Cool Haus

LOS ANGELES | July, 2014
The incredible edible West. 

In July, I set out for California on an ice cream tour that spanned the coast from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The plan was to feed my curiosity; to taste the craft ice creams I had been following for months. But I returned (with a few extra pounds), enlightened with a grand sense of community. In two weeks, I met a South African ice cream pioneer who services the community with her all-natural vegan ice creams, a store owner in her second day of business, a manager of a 65-year old ice cream company that recently underwent a drastic rebranding, the head scooper of a shop that created a new technology for liquid nitrogen ice cream...and those are just a few in a cast of memorable characters. 

I thought Los Angeles was the land of frozen yogurt - generic froyo chains on every other block. I lived in L.A. in 2008 and that's all I knew it to be. But when I booked my flight to L.A. this time, I started adding them up -- the long list of craft ice cream brands I've been dying to try.  I would finally get my hands on a Cool Haus sammie and could devour a scoop of Beachy Cream on the Santa Monica pier. 

BEACHY CREAM | Santa Monica

First stop, Beachy Cream. Organic craft ice cream with a 1950's pin-up feel.  An example of Beachy Cream's clever branding: Their ice cream socials consist of B.A.D. (Beachy After Dark) girls dressed in sequined old-fashioned playboy corsets, serving booze-infused ice cream sandwiches.  It felt like we were in the 50's at an ice cream shop in Cape Cod. It was very surfer-meets-sweet, West Coast meets East.  I scanned all the flavors in the case. "How many could we try without looking like jerks?" A thought that came across my mind every stop on the trip until I began prefacing each taste test with "I'm an ice cream maker from Boston!" 
After literally fifteen minutes, I decided on the flavors I wanted to try.  I tasted their Fresh Mint Brownie Chunk, Balsamic Strawberry, and Coffee Toffee, and I ordered a bowl of half Candied Ginger, half Salted Caramel. The consistency of their flavors is very similar to Scoopsies! All of their flavors are really sweet, possibly the sweetest of all of the shops I visited. I loved their rich coffee base in the Coffee Toffee but thought their Salted Caramel was a bit burnt and their Fresh Mint too minty. I loved the texture of their Balsamic Strawberry. The balsamic was subtle, but this was still one of the best strawberry ice creams I've ever had! Balsamic Strawberry and Salted Caramel were in almost every scoop shop I went to so I made an attempt to try these flavors in as many shops as possible.

Visiting all of these creameries in such a short period of time made it so easy to compare and really focus on what makes each shop unique! Beachy Cream was such a nostalgic experience. I've never before been to a craft ice cream shop that has the feel of that beach town ice cream joint. They nailed it! I spent the night reflecting on the experience, looking forward to the next stop...


Nestled in the foothills in the San Gabriel Valley 
is the quaint town of Sierra Madre. We had planned to take a seven-mile hike up Mount Wilson and reward ourselves with some craft ice cream. We began our hike and thirty minutes later we were sitting on a bench outside Mother Moo Creamery, eating our Grapefruit Campari Sorbet. It reminded me of home - specifically J.P. Licks. The menu made me feel at home too - specifically at home in my kitchen. They were flavors that I've made, flavors that I had been wanting to make. The menu was limited yet I still couldn't decide. So we tried four before settling on the sorbet. The Orange Blossom & Cardamom was very rich and well-balanced. The perfect amount of cardamom (which I'm ALL about!). The Mint Chip was a bit strong for my liking, but a mint fan would love it. The Salted Butter Caramel was dense with a deep caramel flavor. The Local Fig & Honey, which I was most curious about, was the most subtle but my favorite of the flavors I tried. Our scoop of Grapefruit Campari Sorbet was very tart and full with flavor. We enjoyed our scoop in the 90-degree heat and returned home for the nap of naps (20 minute hikes are DRAINING!). Tomorrow was Cool Haus. 



COOL HAUS | Culver City
I couldn't believe I would finally be tasting Cool Haus! They were trumping my list of ice cream crushes. They were the crush that, even though we hadn't met before, I still wanted to marry. Their flavor combinations were brilliant and their Instagram feed left me feeling unfulfilled. I needed some!
I loved everything about Cool Haus. They lived up to and exceeded my already high expectations. Just a few things I loved: the entire experience had simultaneously everything and nothing to do with ice cream. Their brand is known as "architecturally inspired ice cream," with flavors named after famous architects and their designs. The shop captured this well and had no traces of the traditional ice cream store experience. I loved this. You might think that minimalist, art warehouse decor would work against your desire to eat some ice cream. But it made me feel inspired. Cool Haus is one of a kind!
Oh, yeah...and I tried their ice cream, too. The flavor selection was the best that I had come across so far. I was intrigued by every flavor in front of me, but I had to settle on just a few. I had mini spoons of: Mango Saffron, Beer & Pretzel, and Olive Oil Rosemary. Akhil ordered Fried Chicken & Waffles ice cream sandwiched between chocolate chip cookies, and I ordered the Balsamic Fig. The ice cream was some of the best I've ever had. The consistency was smooth and creamy and the "swirls" were perfectly incorporated. The flavors were subtle in the best way, especially the Olive Oil Rosemary. I think a lot of ice cream brands focus on the intensity of a flavor but in my opinion, it's the subtle and properly balanced ingredients that make it stand out. I felt so (architecturally) inspired. I missed my ice cream maker and couldn't believe I was only a few days in to my adventure. I was about to head up the coast, but I had one more stop in Los Angeles...