Illustration by Bob AulWhether eaten from a tub or a crunchy cone, bought at the grocery store or made at home, ice cream remains humankind's ablest ally in the never-ending battle against summer heat. But even the most transcendent rocky road seems ordinary after a while, and the palate pines for new cooled tastes like an unfaithful lover seeking new conquests. I don't advocate cheating in real life, but in eating? Let me be your pimp.
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•GELATO CLASSICO, 2756 E. Pacific Coast Hwy., Corona del Mar, (949) 721-1160. Marco Polo supposedly exported the ice cream-making process from China; his countrymen, in turn, refined it into gelato, a less harsh version made with milk instead of cream. The gelato served by this tiny Corona del Mar hunger hamlet is so authentic you'll be cursing Inter Milan for allowing Real Madrid to steal Ronaldo—even if you don't know what the hell any of this means. •THAI NAKORN, 8674 Stanton Ave., Buena Park, (714) 952-4954. It's a tiny dessert consisting of a bulbous white fruit crammed with pineapple chunks and surrounded by chilled syrup. But the rambutan is the fave cold dessert of steamy Thailand, and at Thai Nakorn, its light sugariness is the ideal counterpoint to the restaurant's fiery salads. •RASPADOS ESTILO MÉXICO, 2004 S. Yale St., Santa Ana, (714) 557-3523. Raspados are little more than pebbled ice bathed in flavored syrup—less snow cone than hail cone. Suffused with such unique Mexican fruit syrups as earthy mamey and the nectar-ific guayaba, Raspados Estilo México (Mexico style) are worth the subsequent brain freeze. •HAN'S HOMEMADE ICE CREAM, 3640 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana, (714) 979-8815.As the name implies, Hans Biermann makes his ice cream fresh daily. You could spend the entire summer trying a new flavor here each week, but concentrate on the peppermint: its thunderous taste will reward you with fresh breath until the day you die. •THUY'S FOOD TO GO, 14901 Euclid. Garden Grove, (714) 530-3299. Ca rem is the Vietnamese pidgin English term for ice cream. Thuy's ca rem comes in the form of Popsicles, big blocks of ice flavored with Vietnamese fruits like jackfruit, the impossibly garlicky durian and the subtle longan.