Carmela Ice Cream (Pasadena, CA)

Carmela Ice Cream
2495 E Washington Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91104
Dining date: 9/27/11 and 10/23/11

signage

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.

pastries

interior

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.

menu

Dark Chocolate, Fresh Mint w/ Cacao Nibs, Intelligentsia Espresso

dark choc, fresh mint, espresso

Lavender Honey, Waffle Cup

lavender honey in waffle

Earl Grey, Brown Butter Sage
Intelligentsia Espresso and Salted Caramel

earl grey and brown butter sage, 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.

to go case

Umami Burger, Scoops – 6/20/10

Umami Burger
4655 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Scoops
712 N Heliotrope Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90029

Umami Burger is currently one of the more popular burger chains in LA – founded in 2009, its success has allowed it to quickly expand to four locations already in the LA area (and one more coming to the SF Valley later this year).  Being a fan of a well-made burger, and hey – with a name like Umami Burger – naturally, it was only a matter of time until I paid a visit.

This location offers 9 burgers – we decided to give the signature ‘Umami Burger’ a try, as well as the truffle burger. But first, the sweet potato fries and french fries.

The sweet potato fries were solid – nicely crisp on the outside and sweet and tender on the inside.

The potato fries were another story. These thick, block-cut fries were lacking crispness on the outside, and were a bit undercooked inside. In addition, they tasted rather plain and undersalted.

Umami Burger

This burger, their signature, was just okay. The meat and bun were both good, though they did not really stand out. I will note that meat was cooked to a very nice medium-rare, however.  This burger is topped with the housemade ketchup, mushroom, and tomatoes – the mushrooms were a bit too much for this burger, as they were overpowering.

Truffle Burger – italian truffle cheese, truffle glaze

The Truffle Burger, on the other hand, was delicious. Again, the meat is cooked a nice medium rare, and topped simply with a truffle-scented cheese. I really liked the subtle truffle flavor in this burger and gobbled it up pretty quickly.

We saved room for dessert and went to Scoops to fill that void. I’d never been to Scoops before for some reason – with it being one of the more popular ice cream joints in the city, a visit was far overdue.

Scoops offers only a few flavors each day, but they’re usually pretty unique.

The first one we tried here was the espresso coffee and salty chocolate. Both of these were very rich, with a good, deep flavor.

This second one is the coconut Thai iced tea ice cream and chocolate. The Thai iced tea was delicious – refreshing and really reminiscent of the drink.

Lastly we had the brown bread and peanut butter toffee. The brown bread was very interesting – mildly sweet with small bits of crispy cereal. The peanut butter tasted very much like peanut butter. Given that, it was good for the first few bites but got tiring rather quickly.

Most of the ice cream came out a bit softer than I would like, so they melted pretty quick too. I’m not sure if it’s always like this, or if the freezer temperature was just not as cold this day.