In the mood for ice cream and want something more exciting than vanilla or strawberry or even salted caramel? Luckily there's no shortage of experimentation among Los Angeles' ice cream makers, who know that aficionados are just as hungry for, say, beet tarragon gelato as they are for peanut butter and chocolate ice cream. Here are a few interesting flavors to try at ice cream shops around town.
Buffalo gelato at Bulgarini Gelato: Don’t worry, this isn’t a meaty gelato (though I’ll bet you’d at least sample it if it were). If anything, it’s a bit cheesy, made with buffalo milk, in the spirit of a mild, delicate mozzarella. The texture is snowy and light -- imagine a subtle mozzarella that melts in your mouth. 749 E. Altadena Drive, Altadena, (626) 791-6174; 8686 Washington Blvd., Culver City, (310) 815-1723,www.bulgarinigelato.com.
Cucumber sorbet at Carmela Ice Cream: This sorbet could be a palate cleanser at the fanciest of fancy restaurants. It’s bright, refreshing and cool as a, uh, cucumber, I guess. Imagine a gallon of spa water condensed into a slick little scoop that is never, ever tepid. 2495 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 797-1405; 7920 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (323) 944-0232; also at select farmers markets and stores; www.carmelaicecream.com.
Beet tarragon gelato at Gelateria Uli: Beets have such nice color it’s kind of a wonder they aren’t more present in ice cream. It’s possible that despite their sweetness, their rooty, earthy flavor doesn’t translate that well into dessert. Well, Uli figured it out. I’m not sure what black magic takes beet and tarragon and makes it wonderful as gelato, but this stuff is both memorable and delicious. 541 S. Spring St., Suite 104, Los Angeles, (213) 900-4717, www.gelateriauli.com.
Brown bread ice cream at Scoops: The ice cream is always changing at Scoops, but the brown bread is forever. It’s a true classic in the L.A. ice cream scene, a wild variation on a standard vanilla that still manages to be a constant crowd pleaser. It’s homey and not too sweet, and it offers a pleasant crunch of Grape-Nuts. 712 N. Heliotrope Drive, Hollywood, (323) 906-2649; 727 N. Broadway, Los Angeles; 5105 York Blvd., Highland Park; 3400 Overland Ave., Palms, (323) 405-7055; www.scoopswestside.com.
Saffron pistachio ice cream at Saffron & Rose: The ice cream at Saffron & Rose is thick and a little gummy -- you have to pull up and kind of twirl your spoon to get it into a neat bite. Not everyone’s favorite, but I find it delightful, and it delivers some high-impact flavors. The best of these is the saffron pistachio, a bright yellow ice cream featuring aromatic saffron and nice chewy nuggets of pistachio. 1387 Westwood Blvd., Los Angeles, (310) 477-5533, www.golobolbol.org.