Scoop after exotic scoop
Although ice cream is the easiest -- and one of the tastiest -- desserts in the world, it’s hard to persuade yourself that you’re doing something special for guests when you just scoop out some of what everyone has in the freezer at home. But any of these amazing exotic ice creams, with their seductive, unusual flavors such as orange blossom, sweet corn and smoke, will make a delicious impact. Discovered in Asian, Middle Eastern and Latino markets, they attest to the universal appeal of everybody’s favorite frozen confection -- and wrap up a barbecue with a bang.
Exotic aroma: Indian-style ice creams in flavors such as mango or pistachio are easy to find in Indian markets here. Now, a local producer, Neemo’s Exotic Ice Cream, has introduced a sensuous new flavor: Saffron Silk. Scented with saffron and rose essence and embellished with pistachios, this pale orange ice cream is wonderfully rich and creamy.
Neemo’s Saffron Silk ice cream: $5.99 a quart at India Sweets & Spices, 3126 Los Feliz Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 345-0360, and 14441 Newport Ave., Tustin, (714) 731-2910.
Fire and ice: For a sophisticated and surprising finale to a grilled meal, try Oaxacan leche quemada (burned milk) ice cream. Although white and creamy like vanilla, it has a subtle smoky taste. A top seller at ice cream stands in Mexico, it is now made in Los Angeles.
Mateo’s leche quemada ice cream: $5 a pint at Mateo’s Ice Cream & Fruit Bars, 4222 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 931-5500, and 4929 S. Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, (310) 313-7625.
Island flavor: Magnolia, a popular ice cream brand in the Philippines, specializes in tropical flavors such as buko pandan, which blends coconut milk with the mellow, warm scent of pandanus leaves (long, slender leaves prized for their mild, roasty flavor). The color, bright summery green, makes this ice cream as pretty as it is refreshing.
Magnolia buko pandan flavored ice cream: $7.39 a half gallon at Island Pacific Supermarket, 627 N. Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 671-1020.
Nutty taste: We found an unusual sesame ice cream from Thailand at a market in Thai Town in Hollywood. This delicate confection combines coconut milk with black and white sesame seeds that give it a nutty, toasty flavor.
Pa-Siam Intertrade Company’s sesame flavored ice cream: $3.49 a pint at Silom Supermarket, 5321 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 993-9000.
Floral notes: “It’s like frozen Turkish delight,” said one taster after a spoonful of Mashti Malone’s fragrant orange blossom ice cream. Flavored with distilled orange blossom water and speckled with pistachios, this voluptuous ice cream is made in the Persian style, but the flowery-nutty flavor was created here in L.A.
Mashti Malone orange blossom ice cream: $4.95 a pint; $7.95 a quart at Mashti Malone, 1525 N. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles, (323) 874-6168, and 143 N. Maryland, Glendale, (818) 662-0400.
Cocoa on a cone: L.A.-based Palapa Azul specializes in ice cream with bright Mexican flavors. Its pale yellow, subtly flavored sweet corn ice cream emphasizes corn’s natural sweetness. Mexican chocolate ice cream, made with imported chocolate, has the hint of cinnamon and intriguing granular texture familiar to fans of Mexican hot chocolate.
Palapa Azul ice creams: $3.99 a pint at Whole Foods markets.