Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, a spin on traditional vanilla that uses richer brown sugar, is an example of how ice cream artisans strive to deliver a more exciting experience to connoisseurs. Photo courtesy of Carmela Ice Cream.
KAREN HOCHMAN is Editorial Director of THE NIBBLE.
Carmela Ice Cream
A “Garden” Of Organic Artisan Ice Cream Flavors
CAPSULE REPORT: Those in the know troll Los Angeles farmers markets for pints of Carmela Ice Cream, a tiny artisan brand that has gained a loyal following. Using fresh-from-the-farm, organic ingredients, Carmela offers riffs on chocolate and vanilla, and opens up new territory: cucumber and heirloom tomato sorbet, for example.
Introduction To Carmela Ice Cream
If you are an habitué of certain farmers markets and specialty stores in greater Los Angeles—or Bar on 4 at Neiman Marcus in Beverly Hills—you can get your fix of Carmela Ice Cream. For other folks, even those in neighboring Orange County, it may be easier to click over to the company’s website to score.
Co-founders Jessica Mortarotti and Zachary Cox are husband-and-wife artisanal ice cream makers. Carmela is the name of Jessica’s late grandmother, but it also means “garden” in Hebrew—appropriate for the company’s fresh-from-the-garden ingredients. (Not only the lemon basil, but the cardamom pods are fresh, organic and picked from the gardens of local farmers.)
Inspired by nature’s seasonal palette, Jessica and Zachary have a commitment to organic ingredients and other special items sourced from the very farmers markets where they now sell their ice cream.
Flavors Of Carmela Ice Cream
Carmela Ice Cream is lighter and more elegant in style than many artisan ice creams—less heavy on the cream, and all the tongue-coating butterfat, enables the delicate flavors and seasonings to show.
Dark Chocolate Cacao Nib ice cream is made
with Scharffen Berger chocolate.
Flavors change not only with the season, but seemingly bi-weekly within the season. August flavors include Brown Sugar Vanilla Bean, Dark Chocolate Cacao Nib (99% Scharffen Berger chocolate with crunchy cacao nibs), Lavender Honey, Mint Cacao Nib, Salted Caramel and Strawberry Buttermilk ice cream; and Cucumber, Heirloom Tomato, Lemon Basil, Lime Mint and Spiced Strawberry sorbet.
Yet, a few weeks ago, when the lemon verbena was blooming, there were Lemon Verbena Vanilla Bean and Verbena & Lavender ice creams. Blood Orange and Meyer Lemon sorbets are gone as well; and while Blueberry Thyme sorbet should still be in season in August, perhaps at the end of blueberry season, the blueberries aren’t as good as Carmela would like them to be.
Rose Petal Lavender Honey has become simply Lavender Honey. Lilac has gone with the roses: There’s no more Saffron Honey Lilac ice cream. Also MIA are the season-agnostic Pistachio Toasted Almond and White Chocolate with Vanilla Bean ice creams. The lesson here: Make hay while the sun shines. If it sounds tempting today, it may not be around to tempt you next week.
Beyond organic ingredients, the company supports sustainability with biodegradable packaging made from sugar cane.
It’s quite fascinating material, looking like linen stiffened into wallpaper, in white and beige. We liked the containers so much, we saved them with the hope of repurposing them.
In the works is a flagship store for Los Angeles. Until then, Los Angelinos need to find Carmela Ice Cream at small markets—or order their Carmela ice cream online like the rest of us.
CARMELA ICE CREAM
Artisan Ice Cream & Sorbet; Flavors Change Regularly (Check Website)
Purchase online* at CarmelaIceCream.com
*Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. Shipping is additional. These items are offered by a third party and THE NIBBLE has no relationship with them. Purchase information is provided as a reader convenience.
Photo by Hannah Kaminsky | THE NIBBLE.