Do you plan your vacation itinerary around ice cream breaks? I certainly do. Here are some of my favourite ice cream destinations that I’ve discovered during my travels.
My 5 ICE CREAM TRAVEl Faves:
1. MOO SHU ICE CREAM & KITCHEN – OTTAWA
Whenever I go to Ottawa to visit my cousins, I ALWAYS go to Moo Shu. My cuzzies suspect that the ice cream is the real reason I visit. I refuse to confirm or deny that fact. Maybe their suspicions are because my eyes light up with excitement or that I’ve revolved our itinerary around an ice cream detour… How could I not? Their flavours are always unique and never disappoint: Lime Leaf & Fresh Mint, Ginger & Sea Buckthorn Curd, White Rabbit (what is that?!?), Fig’ettabout It, Mission Accomplished, Peppercorn & Plum? The list goes on and on, all begging me to try and try some more. Oh, and their homemade waffle cones are yummy so do NOT skimp on calories by getting a cup. Do the cone. You’ll thank me later.
2. SALT & STRAW – LOS ANGELES
(multiple locations throughout the U.S.)
Based in Portland, Oregon we tried this popular chain on LA’s trendy Abbot Kinney street. The wait was long, and we found out why firsthand. There were too many amazing flavours to try. The names and flavours were wild and the ingredient pairings were unexpected. Some included: Boysenberry Oak Milk, Goat Cheese Marionberry Haberno, Pear & Blue Cheese, Arbequina Olive Oil, The Salty Donut Guava & Cheese. We’d paused with doubt when hearing about some flavour combos, but would then be pleasantly surprised by the medley of flavours. My son and I sampled too many that we were almost too full to order our actual ice cream! But hello, this is us and of course we got our ice cream.
3. THE ORIGINAL CHINATOWN ICE CREAM FACTORY
– NEW YORK CITY
Long before artisanal ice cream became trend, this family-run ice cream shop has been chugging away in the heart of New York Chinatown since 1978. Their “regular” flavours include: Almond Cookie, Black Sesame, Lychee, Pandan, Don Tot (Chinese egg custard), Ube/Taro, Durian (if you dare), Ginger, Zen Butter, etc., then of course they have “exotic” ones such as: Vanilla, Chocolate Chip, Strawberry, Rocky Road and other flavours we’d normally consider mainstream in North America. The fact that they changed up what’s considered exotic and regular made me a fan right there. Love their sense of humour. Taste-wise, just have a scoop or two and you’ll know why they are the OG ice cream royalty.
4. FRANKIE & JO’s – SEATTLE
I was full and already had a half-eaten ice cream in my hands when I got to Frankie & Jo’s. Shamefully, I threw it out so I could have theirs. True story. (Yes, I have serious ice cream issues.) Frankie and Jo’s is a plant-based haven offering vegan and gluten-free ice cream. I am neither so there’s never been a necessity to find ice cream with this offering. Plus, my concerns have always been, “Will it taste as good? Will it be just as creamy?” Can’t have ice cream without the creaminess. My concerns were put to rest as F&J did not disappoint. The only concern that remained was which flavour to have? Jamocha Chaga Fudge, Chocolate Tahini Supercookie, Salty Caramel Ash, Golden Milk, Mint Brownie and Date Shake were some of my top contenders. I chose California Cabin because the description hooked me: “flavours of smoked vanilla & pine infused into a creamy coconut and oak milk based with chewy gluten-free black pepper cardamon shortbread cookie chunks nestled throughout.” Ummm…sign me up. They promised it would be reminiscent of sitting by a cozy fire in the Californian forests. I DID taste the pine. They got it spot on. California dreamin’ well-achieved!
5. MILKYWAVE SHAVED ICE CREAM – LAS VEGAS
We stumbled across this hidden gem in a low profile strip mall. From the outside, there’s no bells and whistles. We were having ramen a few doors down and needed to cool off from the blazing Vegas heat. Shaved ice brings me happy memories of Hawaii, but this was shaved ICE CREAM. What?!? Rich, creaminess of ice cream coupled with the soft, fluffy texture of Hawaiian shaved ice… YES pretty please. You can pick your flavour, add toppings and choice of sauce, or simply choose from their signature combos such as: Cookie Dream, Tropical Mango, Smooth Green Tea, Balboa Banana, Coconut Delight and others. Who knew such joy would be found in an unassuming little shop. Light and fluffy, yet creamy and rich. Mindblown that such a combo may co-exist. I’ll call it our little Vegas jackpot.While I love to discover ice cream destinations with my travels, there are plenty of places I love in my hometown of Montreal. For some of my local loves read more here.