Dare to

Dare to: Savor a cool, exotic flavor

Updated: 2013-05-20T15:32:03Z

By JENEÉ OSTERHELDT

The Kansas City Star

Every summer the ice cream chant rolls out. You know the drill: I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream.

But let’s be honest. Do chocolate, vanilla and strawberry still make us want to holler? Times have changed. There are way more than 31 flavors in the world of sorbet, frozen yogurt, gelato, sodas, snow cones and ice cream.

In Kansas City, the trend has been to pair the unconventional. Look at SodaVie with its kooky soft-drink combos like “Thai Basil Clove” and “citrus chili.” In the ice cream world it’s becoming common to see flavors such as lavender lemon and toppings like chile powder.

Sure, sprinkles are fun. But exotic, warm culinary accents like Chinese five spice, tamarind and cardamom are exciting.

I won’t act like Blue Bell vanilla isn’t my absolute favorite. It is. But when I go out for a scoop, I’m not resting on plain. I want something new. Don’t you?

Here are a few of my favorite frosty adventures:

Glacé: Christopher Elbow’s artisan ice cream has been at the forefront of our city’s cool-flavors trend. And Glacé keeps things all-natural.

A lot of people like the spiced chocolate that Christopher Elbow is so well known for, but if you’re at a place that doesn’t mind pairing goat cheese and honey, you should definitely get out of your comfort zone. I suggest ordering a regular and opting for three scoops: Chinese five spice, Vietnamese cinnamon and Thai tea. The flavors are unusually savory and warm for such a frosty summer treat. Drop by the stores at 4535 W. 119th St. in Leawood or 4960 Main St. in Kansas City. See what’s on the menu at glaceicecream.com.

Paciugo: Gelato never looked so quirky. We’re talking “black pepper olive oil,” “maple and caramelized bacon” and the like.

Paciugo also has Food Network flavors. But let me warn you, just because it’s on TV doesn’t make it good. I tried the durian, that Southeast Asian fruit known for its funky smell. Think sweaty gym socks. The clerk warned me not to do it. She told me the smell should tell me everything I needed to know.

I should have listened. Instead, I hovered over a trash can.

I cleansed my palate with a yummy green apple sorbet (fat-free, dairy-free). And then I found a winner: violet. Made from floral extract and sugar, there’s nothing blue about the taste. Try some at the stand in Oak Park Mall, Overland Park, or at 5260 W. 116th Place, Leawood. Find more flavors at paciugo.com.

Paleterias Tropicana: Summer is perfect for paletas (Mexican ice pops), and these are never your typical orange, strawberry and grape kind of frozen treats. At Tropicana you can get rompope (eggnog), chamoy and tamarindo.

If you want full-flavored and unexpected, I would try the pepino con chile. This ice pop is all cucumbers, chile and lime. Upon first taste, you might squint your eyes. It’s sour, sweet and spicy. After a few bites, the odd taste is less confusing and more like a side salad with a kick.

Another option is the fruit cocktail: pieces of watermelon, cucumber, mango, pineapple and jicama sprinkled with lime and chile. Try it at 830 Southwest Blvd. Find more locations (Independence, KCK and Shawnee) at paleteriastropicana.com.

Little Freshie: No one does gourmet sodas and snow cones like Lindsay Laricks. Her attention to flavorful pairings is what keeps customers lined up at her little West Side storefront.

My favorites have long been the blackberry lavender, lemon prickly pear, and pineapple and serrano pepper. But since this is about daring to step out of your culinary comfort zone, I chose the banana cardamom. Bananas and a gingery spice whipped up into sodas and snow cones? Sounds wrong, I know. But let me tell you, it’s right. Have one at 811 W. 17th St. Check out this week’s flavors at littlefreshie.com.

Cirque d’Alex: This Northland gem has plenty of family-friendly ice cream flavors (and hot dogs and pizza, too), but what sets Cirque d’Alex apart is its spiked scoops. Strawberry margarita, rum raisin and pina colada? It’s part of the revolving menu of flavors.

But if you’re going to go that route, make it interesting. Try the Trappist Monk. It’s coffee ice cream with Bailey’s Irish Cream, Kahlua and Frangelico. Stop by 7308 Tiffany Springs Parkway. For this week’s rotation, check cirquedalex.com.

To reach Jeneé Osterheldt, call 816-234-4380 or email josterheldt@kcstar.com. Like her on Facebook at facebook.com/jeneeinkc or follow her on Twitter @ jeneeinkc.

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