Do you scream for ice cream?
Even before President Ronald Reagan designated July as National Ice Cream Month in 1984 — setting aside the third Sunday of the month as National Ice Cream Day — our country has turned to chilled dairy desserts as a way to beat the sweltering summer heat.
Keeping in mind that some people prefer the classics, such as chocolate or mint chip, The Tribune set out in search of more unusual flavors. Our fearless taste testers tried everything from tequila to banana-and-peanut butter, focusing on locally based businesses that make their creamy, dreamy delights right here on the Central Coast.
» Related: SLO County’s 8 most iconic desserts
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The result was a list of udderly wonderful frozen treats that are far from vanilla. (Lactose intolerant? Negranti Creamery in Paso Robles uses sheep’s milk to make its goodies, and other companies, such as Leo Leo Gelato in Paso Robles, offer dairy-free sorbets.)
In celebration of National Ice Cream Day, here are six of our favorite fun, funky flavors.
1. Eureka Lemon & Marionberries, McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams, Santa Barbara
The perfect marriage of sweet and tart, this fresh, summery flavor blends the bright bite of citrus with the jammy goodness of sun-ripened berries. With its creamy, custard-like consistency and lively finish, it’s “just plain yummy,” a Tribune taster said.
2. Merlot Raspberry Truffle, Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab, Arroyo Grande, Orcutt and San Luis Obispo
For true decadence, look no further than this rich blend of berries, sweet cream and chunky chocolate truffles accented with wine from Cerro Caliente Cellars in San Luis Obispo. Consider this a welcome “step up from traditional Neopolitan (ice cream).”
3. Motor Oil, Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab
Deep, dark chocolate flavor with fudge and Kahlua coffee-flavored liqueur is “guaranteed to satisfy any chocolate lover,” as one taster put it. Pair with espresso or cold-brewed coffee for a fantastic affogato-inspired dessert, or a nitro-poured stout for the perfect adults-only ice cream float.
4. Strawberry Basil, Negranti Creamery, Paso Robles
The unexpected herbal note of the basil, combined with the sweet satisfaction of strawberries, makes this ice cream a soothing and sophisticated treat. Raved one taster, “Put this in your milkshake to bring all the boys to the yard.” (One note: We’d love more strawberry flavor.)
5. Toasted Coconut Almond Chip, McConnell’s
Tropical taste meets tantalizing texture in this ice cream, which blends toasted shredded coconut, salt-roasted almonds and Guittard bittersweet chocolate chips. We recommend it for folks who are looking for a little more body when it comes to frozen treats.
6. Corn, La Real Michoacana, Grover Beach and Santa Maria
Want to truly broaden your ice cream horizons? Try this refreshingly unorthodox flavor — complete with tiny, tongue-tickling crystals — which one taster compared to biting into a fresh ear of sweet corn. “Have you ever just wanted to liquefy a piece of corn bread?” mused another. “I haven’t. But now I want to compare.”
Love locally made ice cream? Here’s the scoop
These Central Coast companies are serving up smiles with every cone and cup.
Doc Burnstein’s Ice Cream Lab
114 W. Branch St., Arroyo Grande
860 Higuera St., San Luis Obispo
168 W. Clark Ave., Orcutt
805-474-4068 or docburnsteins.com
La Real Michoacana
1554 W. Grand Ave., Grover Beach
1832 N. Broadway, Santa Maria
Leo Leo Gelato
Available in select stores
805-226-5050 or leoleogelato.com
McConnell’s Fine Ice Creams
Scoop shops in Santa Barbara, Los Angeles and Studio City; also available in select SLO County stores
805-324-4402 or mcconnells.com
Available in select stores
805-801-3847 or negrantidairy.com