If your sweet tooth is playing up and you find yourself in the mood to really indulge it with something found a little bit off the beaten path, there are three places to go for ice cream in Santa Monica that must be experienced to be believed.
The Sweet Rose Creamery
If you were to go to the Sweet Rose Creamery for dessert, you would be hard put to find an ice cream parlor that takes the concept of preparing and serving ice cream more seriously. Their products, particularly their milkshakes, malts and the ice cream itself are made with 100% organic milk that is pasteurized on site. The eggs they use come from humanely and organically raised Chino Valley chickens. Their floats are made with high-quality micro-brewed root beer – Virgil’s to be exact. And in keeping with the Sweet Rose Creamery’s conviction to support the community of Santa Monica, the fruits they use in their sorbets and fruit toppings come directly from the Santa Monica Farmer’s market. You might even find their booth at the Farmer’s Market on Main Street at the corner of Ocean Park Boulevard, selling ice cream, and in keeping with the season, hot chocolate.
Mainstays of the ice cream menu include Old Fashioned Vanilla, Salted Caramel, Fresh Mint with Homemade Chocolate Chips, Verve Coffee and Chocolate. Now that it’s Christmastime, you might want to check out their egg nog or rum raisin ice cream; or perhaps their mulled wine or spiced apple cider sorbet. Adventurous types are advised to the bacon sundae, which uses minced and sugared bacon from Nieman Ranch and a rich bacon, bourbon and caramel sauce.
Nobody can say that this establishment, specializing in high quality Italian-style gelato is not creative. Take a glance at their menu, and you will see over eighty flavors of gelato, a frozen dessert made with skim milk rather than cream, and as such recommended for health-minded people craving something sweet; and over eighty flavors of sorbetto, which is made from the finest quality real fruit and contains no dairy products to speak of.
Among the more unique gelato and sorbetto flavors to be had are Chocolate Grand Marnier, Green Tea, Gingerbread, Mango Coconut Marble, Tiramisu, Blood Orange, Concord Grape, Passion Fruit and Pink Guava. And yes, they also have spumoni as well!
In addition to the wide selection of gelato and sorbetto, Angelato offers blueberry, raspberry, strawberry or vanilla frozen yogurt; and tofulati, which is akin to gelato but made with a soy base instead of with dairy products. Therefore, it is the perfect treat for those who are lactose-intolerant, adhere to a vegan diet or are simply fastidiously health-conscious.
Just when you thought that the frozen desserts were enough, Angelato also offers products from Lavazza, long hailed as “Italy’s favorite coffee,” such as espressos, cappuccinos and lattes, hot or iced. You also have your choice of three sandwiches: Sicilano, consisting of prosciutto, ham, mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, arugula and creamy balsamic vinaigrette; The Tuscan, which features fresh mozzarella, fresh plum tomatoes, fresh basil, fresh spinach and fresh sun-dried tomato; or the Italiano, with grilled Chicken, cheddar cheese, roasted peppers, caramelized onions and salsa; all served on panini, a soft but crispy European flatbread.
I suppose that it would not be inaccurate to think of Angelato as one-stop shopping if you require a hearty meal for your lunch break, complete with dessert.
Sunny Blue is primarily known for the first restaurant in Southern California to primarily offer omisubi, Japanese for “we hold together,” which consists of a hearty filling made with beef, chicken, tuna, salmon, shiitake or king oyster mushrooms served inside a rice ball, that may or may not be surrounded by an obi, or band of nori, or seaweed. Among the homemade side dishes to be had are edamame (soybeans), kimchee (pickled hot peppers), tsukemono (Japanese pickles) and inari (tofu pouches filled with buckwheat noodles, ginger and green onions), to name just a few. In addition to their excellent green tea, one of the more unique beverages they have to offer is their melon cream soda.
Sunny Blue is also a solid place to get dessert. Although you are limited to four flavors – chocolate, vanilla, plain tart and their flavor of the month, there are over two dozen toppings, including but not limited to standard favorites as pulverized Oreo Cookies or Heath Bars, organic animal crackers, mini marshmallows, gummy bears, chocolate chips and chocolate sprinkles; and more exotic selections, like Pocky (Japanese stick-like biscuits dipped in chocolate, vanilla or strawberry icing), matcha (green tea powder), azuki (Japanese red beans), and mochi fruit.
In fact, in addition to a healthful banana split, the house has come up with two savory frozen yogurt specials, decidedly Japanese in both the the aesthetic of their presentation and the creativity of their design. The Works consists of vanilla yogurt topped with matcha and azuki. The Strawberry Milk features vanilla yogurt with fresh strawberries, Japanese condensed milk and cornflakes. Other unique creations include the Pina Colada, which consists of plain tart yogurt topped with fresh pineapples and toasted coconut; and the S’mores, prepared by topping chocolate yogurt with mini marshmallows, imported chocolate and crumbled graham crackers.
In addition to providing delicious food and dessert, Sunny Blue takes the idea of omisubi far beyond the kitchen and dining room, in that it relies on artisans and local farmers for its fresh and natural ingredients. Sunny Blue also seeks to bond together with ecology – they will offer you ten cents off your dessert if you bring your own container to fill. Why not? It would be one less for them to throw away.