Carmela Ice Cream
2495 E Washington Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91104
Dining date: 9/27/11 and 10/23/11
Carmela makes my favorite ice cream in LA. I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but I do have a soft spot for ice cream. Occasionally, I crave the stuff. I once made a round trip from downtown LA just to get ice cream here. In all, I’m not sure how many times I’ve been here…six? seven? Not enough.
Located in northeastern Pasadena, near Altadena, its location isn’t exactly convenient to most of LA. As a result, I’ve never seen it too busy – sure, there have been a couple instances where the line was (barely) out the door, but there’s also been a number of visits when only a couple of guests are there. I’m pretty confident that if this was in mid-city LA, long lines would be a frequent occurrence.
The shop is minimal. Outside of ice cream, they sell only a few items – some baked goods, Intelligentsia espresso (for an affogato), and a couple other miscellaneous sweets. There are no tables or chairs (there is a bench outside though), so it’s not an ideal place to lounge around and slowly enjoy a scoop or two. It doesn’t matter though. I’m here solely for the ice cream, and it’s damn good.
There’s usually about a dozen flavors available at any time. About half are constants on the menu, while the others change frequently.
Dark Chocolate, Fresh Mint w/ Cacao Nibs, Intelligentsia Espresso
Lavender Honey, Waffle Cup
Earl Grey, Brown Butter Sage
Intelligentsia Espresso and Salted Caramel
I’ve been able to try just about every flavor throughout my visits. I can’t say I have a favorite (it seems to change often), but seriously just about every flavor has been good. The Intelligentsia espresso has a bold, deep coffee flavor…just as expected. I really enjoy the fresh mint flavor, especially with the small bits of cacao scattered throughout. Lavender honey and salted caramel are two of my favorite ice cream flavors in general; they’re excellent here. And, while the flavors are obviously integral, I think the consistency and mouth-feel of the ice creams are just as important. Carmela’s has a wonderful richness and creaminess that coats the mouth, with a slightly yielding bite (I bite my ice creams, not lick). So good. It’s not my favorite ice cream shop ever (Bi-Rite), but it’s definitely up there.
Often, I bring a cooler to take a couple pints home. If I can enjoy the ice cream for a few days, it makes the drive that much easier to justify.