Ice Cream of the Crop

Posted July 12, 2012 in Feature Story

Give your overheated self a real cool-down this summer—check out some of the Inland Empire’s chillest places for frozen desserts . . .


Mexican-Style Shaved Ice

Look up raspado in a Spanish language dictionary and you’ll easily find the definition: A Mexican-style snow cone or a Mexican variant on the shaved ice concept. But a raspado is so much more than that—this sweetened medley of crushed ice and syrupy sweetness harkens back to childhood memories of that old man pushing a hand-cart, of that same old man taking that metal instrument and vigorously scraping that towel-covered block of ice—then comes the syrup. What’s your pleasure? Tamarindo (tamarind)? Sandia (watermelon)? Or maybe you want to get fancy and have the guy pour some sweetened condensed milks atop your chill-inducing pleasure? El Raspadito has taken the hand cart-pushing old man (sorry, viejito) out of the equation and created a storefront experience with a menu divided into three categories (classic, pico de gallo-infused and specialty). We recommend strawberry . . . but we’d be doing a public a great disservice if we failed to hype up the Chamango (mango flavor infused with a pico de gallo-style chili). Check out one wall of El Raspadito and you’ll see a photographic collage or homage to the old man and his push cart. Great to see a place that recognizes its roots. (Matt Tapia)

5624 Van Buren Blvd., Riverside; Mon, Wed-Sun 11am-8pm. MC, V.



Ice Cream

Bert and Rocky’s has been a mainstay in downtown Claremont for the last 15 years, and what’s not to like about an old-fashioned sweets shop set in idyllic Mayberry where you can sit down with the family on a hot, summer day and order a cone, ice cream soda or malt maybe, and revel in the beautiful California sunshine. Did we mention the 300-plus rotating flavors that span the spectrum from sweet to savory, 60 of which are available at any one time in the store? The exotic-sounding Guava Goat Cheese is mostly cheesy, with a slight hint of fragrant guava. The butteriness that cream of corn brings in the Blueberry Corn Muffin actually accentuates the blueberry flavor. Debbi’s Double Devils Food Delight is easily Bert and Rocky’s most decadent choice—two kinds of cocoa, fudge marble, Oreo cookies and the darkest dark chocolate available. Where’s Waldo will make its debut this summer in collaboration with the book’s 25th anniversary. It is a playful mix that combines cake batter ice cream with blue marble, accompanied by four cherries buried somewhere within the can. Whoever finds the cherries wins free ice cream. At Bert and Rocky’s, the sky’s the limit. (Nancy Powell)

242 Yale Avenue, Claremont, (909) 625-1852; Sun-Thurs, 11am-9:30pm; Fri, 11am-10pm; Sat, 10am-10pm. D, MC, V.



Nitrous Oxide Ice Cream

We couldn’t help drool a bit watching our Redlands Orange Honey ice cream come together at modern creamery A La Minute in downtown Redlands. In went the juice from locally grown oranges, followed by a stream of Redlands honey. Then the 100-percent organic cream base got a generous pour, followed by the cloud of smoke from the liquid nitrogen that turns from liquid to solid.

Wait? What? Yup, the not-so-secret ingredient in all of A La Minute’s molecular gastronomy flavors is Le Cordon Bleu-trained chef Ryan Berk’s method of using negative-321 degree liquid nitrogen. The LN2 reduces the size of ice crystals, resulting in a much creamier version of the stuff we scream for.

Customers have been lining up for the gourmet goods since A La Minute opened its doors March 1. Flavors include salted caramel made with the salty confectionery from Yucaipa’s Chocolate by Carolyn, and the recent special, cherry-chocolate ice cream made with cherries from Stafford Produce in Mentone. You may be sensing a trend.

“We knew right away we wanted to focus on local, organic ingredients,” says Cassie, Ryan’s wife and business partner. “We like to know how our product was produced and that the people who grow or create them are as passionate about it as us.”

A recent addition to A La Minute’s repertoire is Affogato Sundays. Berk created a pure vanilla bean ice cream that is mixed with a cup of Augie’s Coffee House espresso ground on site and then poured over the scoop, melting it into a creamy concoction. What a buzz. (Arrissia Owen)

19 E. Citrus Ave. #105, Redlands, (909) 307-3751; Mon-Thurs, 12pm-9pm; Fri-Sat, 12pm-11pm; Sun, 12pm-6pm. AE, D, MC, V.



Frozen Treat Experience

Ah, the noises of happiness. At Farrell’s you’ll hear plenty of this which not only includes the sounds of kids and adults having fun but also the constant singing to celebrate birthdays and graduations. Oh, and the frequent wail of a fire truck siren, too. This hopping ’50s ice cream parlour is all a part of the old-style ice cream experience, leaving the place bustling with happiness. While Farrell’s has a viable lunch and dinner menu, they have ice cream out the wazoo. Whether you want just a simple single-flavor scoop or the largest of challenge dishes like Farrell’s Zoo (a ridiculously large dish with too many toppings to count for $49.99. Wow.) If you’re looking for a less preposterous treat, try the Gold Rush. Take your average chocolate and vanilla, mix it up with peanut butter, Spanish peanuts, toasted almonds, whipped cream and gooey hot fudge for a decadent and flavor-filled treat of both creamy and crunchy proportions. Hey on a hot day it will be air conditioned, you’ll cool off with your treat, and you’ll get free entertainment watching some kid making oink noises as instructed by an employee. (Ashley Bennett)

10742 Foothill Blvd., Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 989-8777; Sun-Thurs, 11am-10pm. Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm. AE, D, MC, V.



Ice Cream

In 1954, Alice Handel made what she called “Frozen Custard” for her husband’s gas station in Ohio. Since then, Handel’s ice cream has spread to Pennsylvania, Indiana, Virginia, Florida and all the way to California—with two locations in the IE. The thing about ice cream is you don’t really know you’ve had a great cone ’til you had one, and Handel’s ranks among the top. If you’ve never had homemade ice cream you’re missing out. All of Handel’s 70-plus flavors­ are made fresh in the store and you can taste it. Each scoop is a creamy matte flavor blast, none of that it’s-already-melted-from-frostbite-before-it-gets-in-your-hands business. Handel’s also serves up a good whooping portion. Each of its scoops is a half size larger than most places—size and quality? What more can you ask for? Top selling flavors are banana cream pie, butter pecan and strawberry cheesecake chunk. (Lynn Lieu)

6403 Haven Ave., Ste. 104, Rancho Cucamonga, (909) 989-7065; 373 S. Mountain Ave., Upland, (909) 946-9077; Sun-Thurs, 11am-10pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-11pm. AE, D, MC, V.



Sorbet Cream

Frostbites’ claim to fame resides in its sorbet chills, a rich and intensely flavored dessert that melds fruity, Italian ices made fresh in the store daily with the creamy, velvety soft frozen custard. Frostbites’ owner discovered the enticements of the custardy dessert while a college student on the East Coast and decided to bring it home to Southern California, where it’s been a non-stop blast. Sixteen flavors of sorbet and two flavors of custard (vanilla and chocolate) allows you to mix and match one, two or more Italian ices over a just one custard or a swirl of chocolate and vanilla. You could eat your way through the store by samples alone, but never really settle on any one flavor—and at least a couple of freeloaders arrive each week doing the “dine-n-dash” on freezer inventory, only to consider buying the smallest cup at the first nagging doubts of a guilty conscience. However, for most of us—and especially starving college students—a trip to Frostbites is akin to finding a pot of gold over the rainbow, and then some. (Nancy Powell)

10347 Magnolia Avenue, (951) 352-4903; Mon-Thurs, 11am-9:30pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-10pm; Sun, 11am-9pm. D, MC, V.



Ice cream sandwiches, Affogato, Bozo

If it drips, then it’s probably sold at Dripp, a clever name for a location that sports an assortment of both hot and cold delights. Dripp is also a cool place to hang, with a chic throwback interior consisting of woods and metals that wouldn’t be out of place in a Jules Verne story (think “steampunk”). The best of the cold include the store’s signature Ice Cream Sandwiches. Now, these aren’t the type of sandwiches one encounters at drug stores or from ice cream trucks. Dripp’s version includes a pair of gourmet cookies, with a number of equally gourmet ice cream selections, and each ice cream sandwich is made to order. Cookie choices include s’mores, carnival, butter toffee crunch, butter sugar, chocolate chip, chocolate with Reese’s pieces, white chocolate macadamia nut, turtle and oatmeal raisin; ice cream flavors include vanilla bean, peanut butter, black cherry chunk, mint chip, Nutella, lucky charms and horchata. We cooled down on s’mores with horchata—a lovely, lickable combination. Other Dripp specialties include the Affogato (ice cream and with an espresso shot) and the Bozo (Turkish coffee shot with ice cream). Unique, tasty, with an inviting location to boot, Dripp is worth the trip. (George Donovan)

13855 City Center Dr. Ste. 3015, Chino Hills, (909) 628-6384; Mon-Thurs, 8am–11pm; Fri-Sat, 8am-12am; Sun, 8am-8pm. AE, D, V, MC.



The Root Beer Float

Temecula’s history goes way back. The city you can visit today has been there since the late 19th century and still standing are the quaint buildings of old. It makes sense that when you’re wandering around the various specialty stores in Old Town that the Old Town Temecula Root Beer Co. has the best refresher in town. Among shelves of hundreds of various flavored colas and root beers perhaps you might fancy a bottle of Butterscotch or Cocoa Fizz sodas? Maybe Kitty Piddle (orange and pineapple) is more your style. Either way it’s hilarious. When you want classic and not out of the ordinary you can’t go wrong with the familiar treat of your childhood: the Root Beer Float. Nothing compares to cold A&W root beer on tap, soaking and infusing a single scoop of fresh vanilla ice cream with carbonated goodness. Sure they have a ton of soda bottles on display and most of them are available chilled as well, but nothing, not even other neighboring ice cream spots, can match the mixed flavor of a traditional root beer float done right. (Ashley Bennett)

28545 Old Town Front St., Ste 103, Temecula, (951) 676-5088; Mon-Thurs, Sun, 11am-5pm. Fri-Sat, 11am-6pm. D, V, MC.



Dr. Bob’s ice cream

Nestled in the middle of downtown Upland, Pop’s menu serves just about everything—from sandwiches and burgers to salads and pizzas. But don’t ignore the “creamery” in its name, as you’ll soon discover that they’re also serving a unique batch of ice cream, Dr. Bob’s, which was locally created by a Cal Poly Pomona professor. Of course, they’ll be happy to hand over a single or double scoop cone, but you might want to up the ante, especially if you’re angling to sample something that’s more than your run-of-the-mill sweet cold treat. For example, Pop’s makes a terrific classic Ice Cream Sundae, topped with whipped cream, hot fudge, nuts and a cherry—and you can have it a number of other ways, with caramel, marshmallow, peanut butter, pineapple, strawberry, Vermont maple and more. Plus, their shakes are large and luscious, and well worth the four bucks and change. The shop has that intimate old-town feel on the inside, and offers fundaes, banana splits, malts and floats with Dr. Bob’s as well. Come for lunch or dinner, and then finish it off with some great ice cream, all in one sitting. (George Donovan)

228 N. Second Ave., Upland, (909) 920-1966. Tue-Wed, 10am–6pm; Thurs, 10am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 10am-7pm. V, MC.


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