Friday, February 25, 2011

Scoops and Scoops Westside: How the fanatacism began

The first time I went to Scoops – the original location on Heliotrope Drive – I was looking for one thing: Red velvet ice cream.

I’d heard rumors that the humble ice cream shop owned and operated by epicurean genius Tai Kim carried the flavor, and at the time, nearly four years ago, I was obsessed with anything red velvet. The obsession was quickly reaching Justin Bieberesque fanaticism for me. I’d pour over the Chowhound message boards where angry ‘hounders engaged in fierce debates about the best red velvet cupcakes and cake in Los Angeles, and then I’d plot my eventual takedown of all the items mentioned.

First, I’d devour Sprinkles’ version, then Doughboys’, then Sweet Lady Jane’s, then Susie Cakes’, then….

It was starting to get a little out of control. I’d practically shove my friendly co-workers out of the way when we’d receive a cupcake delivery from one of our clients, mentally screaming with the giddy enthusiasm of a teenybopper, “Red Velvaaaaaaaaaaaaat!” Like those angry ‘hounders, I’d fallen face first into the red velvet trend and had a one-track-mind when it came to any cake-like product.

If it wasn’t red, I wanted nothing to do with it.

So I was a bit shocked when I walked into Scoops for the first time and realized that this red velvet ice cream I’d been hearing so much about was not a flavor that Tai served every single day. Even more shocking, none of his eclectic flavors – aside from the classic brown bread – were available everyday. I pouted for a few seconds, but eventually recovered enough to sample the options he did have.

While the popular brown bread, a caramel-based ice cream streaked with Grape Nuts cereal, was an immediate favorite, I also fell in love with the other scoop I selected that spring evening nearly four years ago. The Chai Irish Cream was unlike any ice cream I’d ever tasted before – smooth and light on my tongue, but popping with aromatic tea spices that were slightly softened by the luxurious liquor.

I visited Scoops several times over the course of the next few years, but never on a day when red velvet was in the rotation. But as time went by, my fanaticism for the flavor began to wane. I no longer trampled my co-workers for first dibs on the cupcakes. I was perfectly happy to be left with the humble carrot cake that was often passed over in lieu of the more popular options, and sometimes I wouldn’t even take any cupcake at all.

Even so, when I walked into the new Scoops – Scoops Westside, which is owned by friend and fellow food blogger Matthew Kang – last Thursday, I was delighted to see that the flavor I had sought out so long ago was finally available for me to taste. Even though Matt had several other tempting options in stock that day – including Cinnamon Basil – I reverted back to my days of red velvet fanaticism and immediately requested a scoop.

Given that I’d been thinking about this hypothetical combination of ice cream + cake for four years, it was inevitable that my expectations of its grandness would likely be disappointed. But the ice cream was exactly what it promised to be – a delicate red velvet-flavored base topped with hunks of real red velvet cake and cream cheese frosting. Sublime, right?

Yes, I suppose.

The problem is that I’ve come to expect something different from Scoops in the years since that initial visit. I want the Cinnamon Basil, the Blueberry Black Tea, the Coconut Pandan, and the other unique combinations that seem inherently wrong at first glance. When I stride through that swinging glass door, I’m not mentally screaming for any flavor in particular, I’m screaming for the fun that comes with playing ice cream roulette.

At Scoops Westside and the original location on Heliotrope, I’ve come to expect the unexpected. Just like that darn box of chocolates in Forrest Gump, the best part about Scoops is that I never know what I’m going to get. And that’s something that’s actually worth being fanatical about.

Scoops Westside
3400 Overland Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90034
(323) 405-7055


Ashley said...

pieces of frosting-laden cake on top? yes, please.

Esi said...

Ooh, I want to try the red velvet! That cinnamon basil is intriguing though. May have to visit the Heliotrope location. I think it's closer (gasp)

stuffycheaks said...

oo i want to try coconut pandan too! If you ever decide to venture to Scoops later in the evening or on the weekends, let me know! I can't do the 5.30 post work drop-in like you do!

Monet said...

What a great post..what a great ice cream parlor! I don't like ice cream very much (shocking, I know) but after reading your post, I want to try all of those exotic flavors. Thanks for sharing, sweet lady. I hope you have a splendid weekend full of sleep, laughter and love!

mattatouille said...

always great to have you over Diana! :)

Gastronomer said...

Oh, so this is how it started! I really am quite jealous that you're able to swing by Scoops whenever your heart (and stomach) desires. Matt's tweets about flavors KILL ME.

Diana said...

Ashley - Look at you gettin' all excited about the ice cream! I knew deep down you loved it! ;)

Esi - The cinnamon basil was incredible - definitely one of my favorite flavors so far!

Stephanie - The coconut pandan was reaaally good. I'll definitely let you know if I'm ever making a late night Scoops run!

Monet - I actually think Scoops is a great place for people who don't necessarily consider themselves ice cream lovers because it's not like traditional ice cream. I so wish I could ship you out a taste!

Matt - It's my favorite post-work hang! :)

Cathy - The tweets drive me crazy too! I can't look at them every day because I'll inevitably end up craving (and caving into) whatever flavors he puts up. It's too close to avoid the temptation!