Making liquid nitrogen ice cream at Creamistry

Eat More Ice Cream This Summer

“If your arteries are good, eat more ice cream. If they are bad, drink more red wine. Proceed thusly.”  (Sandra Byrd, Bon Appetite)

Ice Cream is Putting on a New Face

by Wendy O’Dea
My only child just finished elementary school, forever (cue the tears). And now I’m trying to get my head around summer. As much as I’d like to spend it traveling, as a single, working parent, that’s not an option…for now. We’ll take a few short trips and find other ways to build summer memories by hitting the beach, attending outdoor concerts and, well, eating lots of ice cream.
In all my travels, regardless of the country, ice cream is the one food you can count on finding—and loving. I’ve noticed that here in Los Angeles—and plenty of other places around the U.S.—ice cream has been getting a fancy makeover the past few years. This is L.A ,after all, where everything old tries really hard to become new again.
So, ice cream is apparently the latest food to be artisan-ized. (Yes, I know that’s not a word.) It’s been doctored to be more “special.” Is that even possible? We’re not just talking innovative flavors, the process and presentation have also been made over, just in time to receive all the summer love.
Time to dig out the fat pants.
Rose-Shaped ice cream at The Cauldron

Rose-Shaped ice cream at The Cauldron

Cauldron Ice Cream: This shop in Santa Ana, California went viral when word got out about their puffle ice cream creations, made with the Hong-Kong style egg waffle cones and flower-shaped ice cream. Flavor bomb: Earl grey lavender. Yes, please! (Santa Ana, with other locations coming soon;
Creams & Dreams: Eschewing artificial preservatives and stabilizers, Creams & Dreams uses only fresh ingredients churned with liquid nitrogen. It’s every mad scientist’s dream. Flavor bomb: Avocado or Maiz con Queso. (Santa Monica and Chino Hills, CA;
Amorino: Italian-style gelato shaped like a rose on top of a gluten free cone (my celiac kid thanks you). They can also top it with macarons stuffed with gelato. MACARONS STUFFED WITH GELATO. Come on! Flavor bomb: Green Detox sorbet, made with kale, pineapple and cucumber puree. (Los Angeles, Houston, New York and other locations;
Rose-shaped ice cream on a gluten free cone, topped with a French macaron, at Amorino

Rose-shaped ice cream on a gluten free cone, topped with a French macaron, at Amorino

Salt & Straw: I’ll start with the flavor bombs on this one because the first thing that jumps out is their crazy, unique options. These include takeoffs on craft cocktails (think gin and tonic) and flavors developed using popular local products, such as the Stumptown coffee with Compartes love nuts. Flavors vary by location, satisfaction does not. (Los Angeles, Portland, San Francisco;
Creamistry: Have the camera ready for the cloud of smoke produced when creamologists inject -321 F. liquid nitrogen into a bowl of all-natural, organic ingredients. Flavor bomb: Quantum coffee creation with coffee ice cream Heath® bits, almonds and caramel. (California and Arizona;
Making liquid nitrogen ice cream at Creamistry

Liquid nitrogen ice cream at Creamistry

Sweet Rose Creamery: Small batch only, made daily in their Santa Monica kitchen, Sweet Rose Creamery takes advantage of its location by tapping into organic ingredients at Santa Monica’s famous farmers’ market and from other local suppliers. The shop is co-owned by respected chef and restauranteur Zoe Nathan. Flavor bomb: Fresh mint with chocolate chips. It sounds predictable—it’s anything but. (Locations around Los Angeles;
The Loop: This being southern California, churros (deep-fried dough popular in Latin countries) are a favorite among the wee crowd as well as their parents. Freshly-made , they’re fashioned into a giant loop (thus the name) and served with soft-serve ice cream and a bunch of kooky—or traditional—toppings. Flavor bomb: Matcha Crunch, topped with matcha glaze and fruity pebbles. Prepare for a sugar rush. (Westminster, California;
Churros with ice cream at The Loop
Churned Creamery: If you’re not feeling guilty about shoving ice cream down your throat, how about stuffing it in a croissant and then adding toppings? It’s called a CroCream but I like to think of it as a cream puff on crack. This creamery also has exclusive rights to use special churning machines from Italy. Flavor bomb: whiskey and cream, or honeydew. (Multiple locations in southern California; 
CroCream, croissant stuffed with ice cream, treats at Churned Creamery

CroCream, croissant stuffed with ice cream, treats at Churned Creamery

Aulani’s Mystical Menehune

Hawai’i with a Disney Twist

by Wendy O’Dea
About three seconds after stepping into a guest elevator at Aulani my daughter points toward the ceiling, spotting an unusual character gazing down on us. We’ve just checked in and are headed to our room when she sees the little pot-bellied creature lurking on a ledge inside the lift. No, it’s not real. Or we don’t think it is anyway.
It turns out the carved figurine was one of many Menehune hidden among the grounds at Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa located in Ko Olina, just north of Honolulu. Many believe that the beauty of Hawai’i is due to the swift and magical work of the Menehune, the little people who live in the islands’ forests. The legend is well-known among islanders (not so much to visitors) so they come as a welcome surprise.
The Menehune Trail (i.e. scavenger hunt) is just one of the creative ways Disney has found to share the stories of Hawaii. Before the resort opened in 2011, Disney Imagineers traveled throughout the islands gathering stories from historians, artisans, musicians, language specialists and others.


Disney's Alumni Resort & Spa on Oahu in Hawaii h

Photo by Lauren Keskinel


The design of the resort is an homage to the south pacific culture. Murals on lobby walls depict ancient stories and kapa patterns (Hawaiian-patterned fabrics), guest room towers resemble upright canoes and the rooms themselves include only subtle Disney influences, like hidden Mickeys in the quilted bed covers. It’s clear that the focus is on Hawaii first and Disney second.
And that’s just fine with my Hawaii- and Disney-obsessed daughter. She didn’t know we were heading to Aulani when she woke up that morning. I’d kept the trip quiet (she thought she was going to school) and surprised her to celebrate her tenth birthday which had just recently passed. Winning!
She was in her element at Aulani, spending her free time floating along the lazy river, zipping down water slides, snorkeling in Rainbow Reef—the resort’s private 3,800 square-foot saltwater lagoon—and sitting fireside listening to “Uncle” (referring to an endeared older man) pass along native tales through mo’olelo, traditional Hawaiian storytelling.
Uncle shares mo'olelo, or storytelling, with Aulani guests on Oahu

Storytelling around the fire

As an only child, my daughter has no problem being on her own but she enjoyed hanging out with the friends she met at Aulani, including freckle-faced Matthew who was visiting with his two dads (Aulani, like most Disney properties, is very LGBT friendly). She also spent time exploring Aunty’s Beach House, the 5,200-square foot kid club tricked out with interactive games, video games, a movie room, crafts and much more.
There was no extra charge for her to play at “Aunty’s,” which freed up a little extra cash for me to visit the Laniwai Spa. I KNOW AN OPPORTUNITY WHEN I SEE ONE, PEOPLE! Aulani is the only Disney-owned hotel with a self-operated spa and it does not disappoint, with an outdoor hydrotherapy garden, posh treatment rooms, salon and luxurious spa shop.
Given how much Aulani has to offer, we only left the resort a few times. We joined our new friends for an excursion into Honolulu one day and another was spent exploring the North Shore—traipsing through a cleansing tropical rain at Waimea Valley and having lunch in the surf town of Hale‘iwa.


Matsumoto's Shave Ice on Oahu's North Shore, Hawaii


Before heading back to Aulani, we endured the serpentine line of people waiting to indulge in Hawaiian Shave Ice from Matsumoto’s—a must for any non-diabetic.
The days spent exploring the island were memorable but in reality, there’s so much to see and do at Aulani, it was hard to tear ourselves away for long.
After five years, Aulani continues to be the only stand-alone resort in the Disney empire and maybe that’s a good thing. Unless they can create another that captures a true sense of place like Aulani does, it might be best to stick with theme parks.