Sometimes, air conditioning just doesn’t cut it. As L.A.’s relentless sun bakes the beaches and turns the mountains a crispy brown, something’s got to give. And while sugar is one of the Southland’s most demonized dietary villains, sometimes the only answer to a scorching day is to cool down with something sweet. This tempting list of frosty treats runs the icy gamut from Hawaiian-inspired snow to old-school phosphates. Let the cool down begin!
SnowPiffs, a local creation inspired by elements of Hawaiian and Taiwanese shave ice, opened earlier this year in Sherman Oaks (one of the co-owners is Food Network star Rumy Tran). The delicate confection takes a fruit-forward, gelato-inspired approach (try the cantaloupe or pineapple), but flips the traditional ratios: This snowy treat is almost entirely fruit. Each distinct concoction is frozen into a block, then shave ice equipment is used to create the fluffy snow. The result is delicate and airy with a clear, refreshing flavor. Each serving comes with standard froyo toppings and drizzles, but they might be unnecessary — snowpiffs stand on their own. 4341 Van Nuys Blvd., Sherman Oaks; www.snowpiffs.com
Carmela Ice Cream uses only organic dairy and sources ingredients from nearby farms, like Cliff McFarlin’s Organic Fruit Ranch for stone fruit and citrus, and the McGrath Family Farm in Camarillo for organic Seascape strawberries. But that’s not even the best reason to visit one of their shops. The best part of visiting Carmela’s is how astonishingly good the ice cream tastes, like the tangy seasonal strawberry buttermilk or the blackberry vanilla bean sorbet. For a wild ride, try an espresso affogato with their lusty Guinness ice cream. (Look for their third shop across from the Line Hotel in Koreatown later this summer.) 2495 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena; 7920 W. Third St., Los Angeles; The South Pasadena, Hollywood and Barnsdall Farmers Markets; www.carmelaicecream.com
Rita’s Ice recently brought a taste of Sicily (by way of Philadelphia) to the Westside, with plans to open another shop on Pico by mid-June and one in North Hollywood come July. These traditional Italian water ices have been a welcome addition to L.A.’s frozen treat landscape, with classic flavors like lemonade, watermelon and cherry that are naturally dairy- and gluten-free. Two new summer flavors, Wild Berry and Watermelon Chip Cream Ice, will taste especially sweet on June 21; for the first day of summer their regular ice is only $2, and gelato is $3. 2307 Main St., Santa Monica; 11073 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles; www.ritasice.com
Step into a different era when you walk into the Fair Oaks Pharmacy in South Pasadena, founded in 1912. This old-fashioned soda fountain offers homey banana splits and brownie sundaes with ice cream from Alta Dena Dairy. East Coast ex-pats will be glad to sip an old-school egg cream. But the real treats are the retro rickeys and phosphates, a fizzy combination of soda water, flavored syrup and a blast of phosphoric acid that adds a hint of bitterness to balance the sweet. Truly refreshing on even the hottest days. 1526 Mission St., South Pasadena; www.fairoakspharmacy.net
Sweet Rose Creamery has quickly become a Westside institution, founded by two native Santa Monicans who select ingredients from the farmers market and a bevy of organic local farms. Their fresh mint-chip (with homemade chocolate chips) is the stuff of local legend; the bright flavor and almost airy texture is punctuated by pops of rich chocolate. The Caffe Luxxe coffee flavor (made with a nuanced brew from neighboring Brentwood Country Mart) is more complex — the perfect pick-me-up. 225 26th St., Santa Monica; 826 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; 7565 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; www.sweetrosecreamery.com
Lastly, do not discount the pleasures to be found in the frutas carts that dot the Eastside. Many sell freshly cracked coconut water for $1. And even if your Spanish is paltry, it’s easy to politely point at the assortment of mango, cucumber, pineapple, watermelon, jicama and cantaloupe, then have it sprinkled with salt, a squeeze of lime and chili pepper (if you choose). Try the cart at York and 64th in Highland Park, or look for the rainbow umbrellas across town.
— Tory L. Davis, Brand Publishing Writer
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