Why you should care
Because if the “Cuban cigar” flavor doesn’t do it for you, then the “lemon yogurt honey Butterfinger” definitely will.
I expected it to taste absolutely gross. The words “peanut butter banana bacon ice cream” simply never belong in the same mouthful, right? Nothing about it sounded promising — I don’t even like bacon. But in the spirit of journalistic endeavor, I boldly pressed ahead.
Boy, was it fantastic. The peanut butter hit first, tempting and delicious, but not so strong as to be overpowering, and then came the banana flavor — not that stale fake banana flavor you might find if you make a seriously bad candy selection, but genuine, full-mouthed, yummy banana. Finally, right at the very end (so much later, in fact, that I was just about to dollop another spoonful onto my tongue) came a savory hint of salty bacon, so nuanced that it was almost imperceptible.
Did all of this actually work? I don’t know. But it was one hell of a flavorsome roller-coaster ride.
A fair few ice-cream manufacturers have started experimenting with wacky flavors. One of the standouts is Los Angeles’ Scoops. “The goal is not to be like, ‘Hey, here’s a crazy flavor, now I hope you throw up while you’re eating it,’” says Matt Kang, owner of the Scoops Westside joint. Instead, “it’s about discovery,” he says, introducing customers to “something crazy and unfamiliar, but also tasty.” Its signature flavor is brown brown bread, which features Grape-Nuts cereal, brown sugar, dulce de leche and caramel. With everything else, what you see on the label is what you get, whether that’s burnt sugar sweet potato (surprisingly fruity and light), green tea honey (creamy, with a not-too-strong herbal aftertaste) or Guinness coffee (which genuinely tastes like frozen Guinness). While brown brown bread is usually in the mix, each day there’s a new selection from Scoops’ founder and flavor inventor Tai Kim’s extensive library of recipes.
MONDAY FLAVORS!— Scoops Westside (@ScoopsWestside) October 31, 2016
Vanilla Butterfinger, Oreo, Goat Cheese Lavender, Apple Butter Toffee, Caramel Cacao Nibs, Goji... https://t.co/PMcxjxsWs9
Kim started Scoops back in 2004 in East Hollywood. A lot of culinary endeavors are very high-end and expensive, says business partner Kang. “The idea for us was to give people exposure to supercool ingredients and supercool combinations of flavors at a very reasonable price,” he says. It’s also about bringing a bit of no-strings-attached tastiness to Southern California, where, if you’re not a beer nerd or a coffee nerd or a wine nerd, or if you don’t eat exclusively organic-vegan-gluten-free chef-made meals, then you’re in all likelihood not cool.
Scoops’ 100% homemade product has no stabilizers, so it’s creamier, meltier and softer than your average ice cream. This also makes the product difficult to transport, so unfortunately Scoops is unlikely to be expanding its presence too far away from where the ice cream is churned. For the same reason you’ll also never see Scoops for sale in your local supermarket: It’s in one of its five L.A.-based parlors or not at all, I’m afraid. “That’s the beauty of it — it’s quirky, it’s local, it’s patently L.A.,” says Kang. Artisanal ice cream is a growing trend across the country: Local independent stores and small chains appeal to the modern urban consumer, according to an industry report from IBISWorld, as the big chains battle it out with frozen yogurt in a modern-day ice-cream war. Of course, there are always a few customers after just straight vanilla; they must get quite the shock at Scoops. Kang says he’s happy to give them directions to the nearby Baskin-Robbins.
What’s the favorite ice-cream flavor of a man with gallons of eclectic mixes at his fingertips, I hear you cry? “It depends on the day, of course,” says Kang, looking inquisitively through the glass storefront at the overcast sky. “Today? I’d have to go with vanilla cardamom.” The herby aroma that accompanies this otherwise normal-looking treat shouldn’t have worked, but it does. A flavor-suggestions board is fixed to the wall next to the counter. Somewhere else, it might read “raspberry lemon” or “pumpkin spice.”
Here? Patrons have excitedly scrawled everything from “chilies” to “gravy.” We’ll be waiting.