Summertime cold treats to beat the heat

We’re finally seeing a break in the heat wave in Los Angeles. Woohoo! One reason why L.A.’s a good place to be when it’s hot are the cold treats. Here are a few of my favorite cold desserts that helped me stay cool this summer.

7290 Beverly Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90036

First up, Milk. Located on the corner of Beverly and Poinsettia, this corner shop often has a line of people going out the front door. Who would blame them when you see the array of frozen treats in their fridge waiting for you.

One of their popular ice cream desserts is the bright green Grasshopper. It’s mint chocolate chip ice cream sandwiched between two pistachio macaroon cookies and dipped in chocolate.  How’s your sweet doing now?

However, on my recent visit, I opted to get ice cream. You see, I have a weakness for blueberry pie and cobbler and when I saw they had an ice cream this particular day with blueberry cobbler ice cream, I had to get it.

The ice cream was creamy and the bits of the cobbler crust added good texture. The best part was the abundance of blueberries swimming in the rich cream. When I’ve had blueberry ice cream before, there are usually few pieces of blueberry that look like raisins or the cream itself is infused with blueberry but there aren’t actually berries I can sink my teeth into. Well done, Milk!

Pazzo Gelato
3827 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90026

Another frozen dessert I love is gelato! My friends and I often stop by Pazzo Gelato in Silverlake. They use local ingredients and also offer vegan flavors. On the weekends and on hot summer days, it’s not surprise they have lines that go out the door — but the lines usually go pretty fast.

My favorite flavor is blood orange sorbet. I love it because you can actually taste the blood orange – it’s not hidden by extra sugary sweetness or icy texture. Their sorbet is flavorful and easily scoops onto the gelato spoons and melts away on your tongue with a tangy aftertaste. When I was there last, I didn’t see the blood orange sorbet and I didn’t know what to order. I stood there… confused and lost. The guy behind the counter said I looked like I was looking for something and told him I usually get the blood orange sorbet. He said he had some in the back and brought it out. That’s service!

Half and Half Teahouse
141 N Atlantic Blvd, Ste 112
Monterey Park, CA 91754

For real Chinese food in Los Angeles, you head east to San Gabriel Valley. The suburbs in SGV are known for quality savory eats but also dessert. This summer, my friend introduced me to a boba drink with a twist. Boba milk tea, also known as pearl tea or tapioca milk tea, is a popular drink in the summer. But at Half and Half, they’ve stepped it up a notch and have made the beverage into a dessert meal.

I ordered the iced milk drink with chocolate, pudding, and honey boba. It was intense sweetness. First off, the cup is larger than your regular boba drink. And when you’re slurping the drink and tapioca balls, you’ll also get chunks of rich pudding. If you look closely to the picture, you’ll see yellow chunks – that’s the pudding.

I thought my tastebuds would be confused by all the rich sweet flavors but it actually worked out. The chewy honey tapioca balls balanced the rich pudding that balanced the  heavy chocolate. Don’t get me wrong, if you don’t like sweet rich beverages, this may not be for you – but if you want to indulge or have a sweet tooth, you must order one of these. This is something I wouldn’t order everyday but it’s definitely something I would have again on a hot day… or just for dessert.

If you have a favorite summer treat you’ve had this summer, please share your tip! In L.A., summer doesn’t truly end until October so I’ll definitely need to try other cool eats!

Shave ice + milk = Blockheads Shavery Co.

This past weekend I was doing my part to support small businesses by getting a haircut at Taka Salon and getting some gifts at Giant Robot on Sawtelle. While running errands I found a new shave ice place called Blockheads Shavery Co. – well it’s a different take on shave ice. Their version is creamier because they add milk into the ice blocks. Here’s how they explain it:

Blockheads Shavery Co. is tucked away on Mississippi right off of Sawtelle. It’s been open for a couple weeks and so far I like what they are serving up.

Here’s how you order.

  1. You choose the flavor of the ice. They have various flavors ranging from original which is a milky cream flavor, strawberry, chocolate, and black sesame.
  2. Pick your toppings
  3. Pick your puree.

If you can’t decide, they have a list of their popular combinations posted. I got the #3 which is the original ice, strawberry and mochi toppings, and strawberry purree. The guy at the counter was nice and gave me a sample of their homemade rice cakes to try.

The portion was larger than I thought it would be but surprisingly, it wasn’t heavy. When they make the snow cream, they bring out a block of ice that is a mixture of the infused flavor you want and milk – to give it that creamy consistency when they shave it like regular shave ice in the machine… then you get snow cream!

The snow cream is soft, smooth, and light. I admit from the three toppings I had, the homemade ricecakes (which is slightly larger than mochi) was my favorite because it had a soft and moist texture that went well with the strawberries and snow cream.

I love how the shave ice falls apart when you scoop up each bite at a time. Check out the photo above – how the ice really looks like shavings. If you love ice cream and/or shave ice, this place is definitely worth trying. I will be back!

Blockheads Shavery Co. prices are decent – a regular bowl is about $3.50. The combination I got was $4.50 — and I split it with someone because it was pretty big.

Blockheads Shavery Co. 
11311 Mississippi Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90025

5 seconds of fame on Cooking Channel’s Eat St.

Tonight, a friend wrote on my Facebook wall that she saw me on Cooking Channel’s Eat St. Apparently, this is the episode but I don’t have cable so I didn’t see it. If you know where the episode is streaming, please share.

The segment was shot a little over a year ago in downtown Los Angeles. My boss and co-worker had a craving for a Coolhaus ice cream sandwich – not just any ice cream sandwich… gourmet ice cream sandwiches. We checked twitter and found out they would be down the street! We ended up being the first people in line. Some camera guys were filming the truck and also some of the customers in line (like me!). I’m not sure what footage they got of me but most likely I’m scarfing down an ice cream sandwich and getting it all over myself. Ha! Um, perhaps it is a good thing I haven’t seen this episode.

Anyhow, here are some photos from that day.

The photo above is me trying to look poised after my first bite of one of the best gourmet ice cream sandwiches in town. If you want to see a close up of the ice cream sandwich, check out my original post on Coolhaus here.

Big Sky Country – Part 1

You learn the best stuff from strangers. I’m serous. On my flight to Missoula, Montana, I started a conversation with the woman next to me. Turns out she was traveling to see her son in Montana and was going to stay a week. As we got to talking, she started giving me tips on what to see and eat. Ah yes… the eating part really perked my ears.

I asked her if I could eat just one thing in Missoula, what would it be? Without hesitation, she said, “Huckleberry ice cream from The Big Dipper.” Then suddenly a woman and man from across the aisle nodded their heads in agreement and chimed in about how good the ice cream was. I was sold.

To be honest, I never had huckleberry before. Apparently, they are not as common as blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries. Huckleberries grow in a few places in North and South America. And over 10 years ago, they were in short supply. They say the berry is almost like a blueberry but it’s a bit more tart. And so, I went on my way in search of huckleberry ice cream in my free time.

On a Friday evening, I took a walk with colleagues who tried to help me find this place. And on a quiet street corner, this little ice cream stand was illuminated by the neon signs – it was The Big Dipper.

On of my favorite signs was on the window that said, “Great Cones Oh Boy!” There was something really nostalgic and innocent about that sign that made me realize why ice cream is like a comfort food for me. Here’s a closer shot of it.

But you’re wondering about the actual ice cream… huckleberry ice cream. I ordered a scoop of it in a cup and had it right before I went to dinner. I know that’s not a good thing but when you’re in Missoula, Montana and you stumble upon the food gem all the locals talk about, you throw caution to the wind and order up. Here’s what I got:

The ice cream is super creamy but not overly sweet. At first you get that sweet blueberry flavor but immediately after that sets in, there’s a tart flavor that washes over it. It’s actually nice that the flavor of the cream then takes over at the end just leaving your mouth salivating for more.

So for those taking a trip, be sure to talk to those around you because they may very well have a tip that will take you to unexpected places and flavors.

April foods!

Just by thinking about the food I consumed in April just added a few more pounds on my body. But it was worth it. Here’s some of the highlights of my favorite tastes in the last month.

Let’s start with my favorite dessert… ice cream. Sure, the gourmet food truck thing may have run its course in Los Angeles but ice cream trucks will never get old for me – even if it’s gourmet. One lucky Friday the @coolhaus truck came to downtown LA where I just happened to be. But the best part was that the Food Network was filming Cool Haus for their new street food series called Eat Street – it was as if the stars had aligned.

The ice cream sandwiches were on the pricey side but at the same time it wasn’t your average ice cream or cookie that came with it. Ice cream flavors that day ranged from maple bacon to foie gras to strawberry. The cookies ranged from snickerdoodles to chocolate to a brioche bun! So how does this tasty ice cream look like… looks like this:

So from sweet… I’m going to savory. My entire life, my one savory food weakness has been fried chicken. If I see it on the menu and it looks crispy good – I must have it. I always say it was a good thing I didn’t grow up in the south because I don’t think I’d be able to stop myself from all the home-fried chicken.

I have this ongoing list of places I want to eat in Los Angeles since I moved back from Minnesota. This list keeps getting longer but that is not a bad thing. When I read about Honey Kettle Fried Chicken online a while ago, I immediately started to salivate. Rightly so… take a look:

I went to the Culver City location and let me tell you… the chicken was juicy and the crispy skin had the right mix of spices and grease. The biscuits were flaky on the outside and dense and heavy on the inside – just the way I like it. Best part is there are dispensers with warm honey and hot sauce. I will definitely be going back for more.

But across town near USC is a place called La Taquiza. It’s in this tiny corner strip mall and I probably wouldn’t have bothered to stop by if it wasn’t for my co-worker who said La Taquiza had something called mulitas that was the best thing ever. So we decided to hop in the car and check it out. When we got there, I ordered two – one with al pastor and one with carne asada… the al pastor was hands down the best. So what are mulitas? It’s this…

If a sope and quesadilla had a child, it would be the mulita. Two warm tortillas that have been heated on the grill snuggle the meat, melted cheese, fresh guacamole, tomatoes, and onions. I added some extra salsa to mine but it wasn’t necessary because the al pastor was well seasoned. OK, I’m getting hungry as I read this so I think I should skip to the next food stop.

Ever since I moved back to Los Angeles, my friends have been raving about Boiling Crab. And last week I was able to finally understand why. For those who have read the article in the New York Times talking about how the Vietnamese American community is carrying on cajun cooking know what I mean. I got to the restaurant early and felt foolish asking for a table of 10 but then I looked around and realized it was mostly large groups at the tables. When I looked at the menu and realized you ordered shrimp and crawfish by the pount, it was obvious why you would want to go in a large group.

Here’s a look at my dinner feast…

Shrimp by the bag! I admit I like the food at boiling crab but I was bothered by all the plastic they use in serving the food. Basically everything is served in a plastic bag.

We ordered some corn with garlic and butter but decided to put it in the bag with the shrimp so it could soak up the cajun spices.

This is a mix of salt, pepper, and freshly squeeze lemon juice – delish for dipping crab meat in and less messy than garlic butter.

As you can see, April was full of some good eats. I can’t wait to see what May will bring! Come on friends — where else should I eat? And will you come out and eat with me?