Where to Buy Ice Cream in OC this Summer
In my humble opinion, there's still no better deal than Rite Aid for scoops of its Thrifty's brand ice cream. It's $1.79 as of this writing, and after all these years, it's still served with those cylindrical scoops that go ka-chunk. This summer, if I'm not having a single scoop of Chocolate Malted Crunch outside of the Rite Aid in Tustin, then I'm at Strickland's near UC Irvine to see whatever flavor the gleaming steel machines mixed fresh that day. But there's more ice cream where that came from. Herewith are six more places for when you'll allow yourself to be calorically irresponsible and happy this summer.
If there were a cuter, more kawaii dessert boutique than B. Candy, it would have to exist in some sugar-addled teen's Hello Kitty fantasy. On the shelves are gigantic Peeps plush toys, Pucker Powder sold by the spout and pinkness everywhere. The bar stools are fashioned to resemble cupcakes and ice cream cones. And when you finally pull yourself away from browsing the merchandise, you discover the ice cream is made by someone who's obviously very skilled at the art. It's texturally perfect and exists in so many intriguing flavors it's difficult to settle on just one. The Froot Loops tastes exactly like the cereal. And if you decide on the one made with Whoppers, you find the malted essence of the movie-theater candy slyly worked into the ice cream itself. One of the best flavors is the Cookie Monster; named after the Sesame Street monster and colored blue in his honor, it not only has cookie dough pieces, but also probably Oreos and everything else the notoriously ravenous cookie junkie might consume in one of his binges. 3100 Pacific Coast Hwy., Corona Del Mar, (949) 675-3910; www.bcandy.com. Small cup of ice cream, $3.50.
CONFETTI ITALIAN ICE & CUSTARD
Are you experimental? A control freak? Confetti is the ice cream parlor for you. On offer here are about 10 frozen custards piped out of machines with the taste and texture of Costco's froyo and about 20 different Italian ice flavors scooped out from bins. What you do with these choices would take some fancy math to figure out the virtually limitless flavor combinations. And that's not even counting the dozen sauces you can drizzle on top. If you're too overwhelmed, you can choose from the recommended formulations of "parfait" (that's what the owners call these Italian-ice-and-frozen-custard combos). The simplest one is "50/50 bar": orange Italian ice plus vanilla custard. It tastes better than the original you had in your youth. 1175 Baker St., Ste. E-22, Costa Mesa, (714) 545-1175. Small cup of custard, $4; small cup of Italian ice, $3.50; small parfait, $3.75.
Yes, Creamistry is gimmicky and can be shockingly expensive. Yes, since it's as popular as Afters (which we've already reviewed before), it can often take the patience of a saint to endure a slow-moving line, and then, after that, you still have to wait for your ice cream to be made. Also, it's so noisy in there you're liable to get a real headache before you endure the ice cream one. But the rewards outweigh the inconveniences because Creamistry's ice cream is actually very good. It's velvet-smooth, dense as antimatter and completely devoid of ice crystals. Say what you will about the overuse of liquid nitrogen in restaurants that tout molecular gastronomy; liquid nitrogen is made for making ice cream. Plus, it's wicked cool to witness the waterfall of white fog that cascades out of the modified food processors as if a Rush concert's about to start. And since you waited this long and paid this much, you might as well spring for one of the wonderful waffle bowls. Creamistry makes them fresh, from scratch, right there in front of you, with hints of cinnamon in the batter. 3972 Barranca Pkwy., Ste. D, Irvine, (949) 777-6627; www.creamistry.com. Small cup of ice cream, $4.75.
CHRISTOPHER MICHAEL CHOCOLATES
For such an upmarket brand that touts its credentials as chocolatier for the Academy Awards and Grammys, you'd expect a better location for Christopher Michael Chocolates. It's on the one-way part of Newport Boulevard that parallels the 55, in a strip mall with a liquor store and a massage parlor that advertises "colon hydrotherapy" in neon. On top of that, the hours are inconvenient. It's not open on Sundays, and it closes up shop before 7 p.m. most weekdays and by 5 p.m. on Saturdays. But despite all this, you want to seek out the Frozen Cow Creamery because this specialty chocolate maker also churns a chocolate ice cream that has no equal. It tastes as chocolate ice cream should: deeply resonant of cocoa and completely addicting since it's never, ever cloying. The rest of the flavor selection is small, but will occasionally include the rarely seen but wonderfully complex Lavender Honey. 2346 Newport Blvd., Ste. A3, Costa Mesa, (949) 566-9810; www.chrischocolates.com. Call for pricing.
POOF ICE CREAM
By the time Poof Ice Cream opened in sleepy Buena Park Downtown, Creamistry in Irvine proved there was a market for using liquid nitrogen and mixers to turn milk, cream and sugar instantly into what you previously thought was just fine pre-frozen. Poof is a smaller outfit. The prices are scribbled in pen. There's a whiteboard on which someone has drawn a cartoon in marker. And when you order some ice cream, the two gents who work here will sometimes forgo the mixers and just swirl the liquid nitrogen into the milk by hand. The flavors largely start from the jarred powders, stirred into the liquid as though they were making glasses of Ovaltine, but range from the interesting (Mexican cocoa) to the downright weird (habanero, chipotle and chocolate, and curry and chocolate). The texture of Poof's ice cream isn't as smooth as Creamistry's, existing somewhere between a Wendy's Frosty and frozen yogurt, but still, how cool is it that it involves tanks of that chemical that froze the T1000 into a popsicle in Terminator 2? 8300 La Palma Ave., Ste. A2, Buena Park, (714) 323-4215. Small cup of ice cream, $4.
SPRINKLES ICE CREAM
You've no doubt heard of Sprinkles, the cupcakery loved by Hollywood starlets and those who look up to Hollywood starlets. At this spinoff shop, the best flavor is of course the one that actually has cupcakes in it—the red velvet, which is essentially just vanilla ice cream with crumbled pieces of Sprinkles' signature cupcake and cream cheese frosting mixed into it. It's decadent and will probably go straight to your hips, but it's also surprisingly light and fluffy—dessert kismet when you realize someone has engineered the eating of both cake and ice cream in a single spoonful. Just as you'd want to match your shoes to your purse, it would be ideal to have the red velvet ice cream in one of the freshly made red velvet cones. 952 Avocado Ave., Newport Beach, (949) 718-9400; sprinklesicecream.com. Small cup of ice cream, $3.75.
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952 Avocado Ave.
Newport Beach, CA 92660