It was slightly disorienting to be driving toward the foothills of Altadena for dessert and not be heading to Bulgarini. Instead, my friend Laurie and I were destined for Carmela Ice Cream, a farmers market favorite that recently opened a proper brick and mortar. The shop is named after founder Jessica Mortarotti’s grandmother, who inspired her in the kitchen at a young age.
The store was bathed in an abundance of sunshine when we walked in on a weekend afternoon. There were a few customers ahead of Laurie and me in line, which gave us a few free moments to contemplate the small but adequate flavor selection—five ice creams and three sorbets. In addition to ice cream and sorbet, the shop also sells sweets made by Valerie Confections, Sugarbird Sweets, and Blue Cupcake.
After selecting and purchasing our goods, we headed outside to enjoy them since there sadly weren’t any tables or seating areas reserved for customers inside the shop. It’s a good thing it was warm and sunny out.
All of Carmela’s ice creams are made with Clover Organic Dairy and are inspired by herbs, spices, flowers, and seasonal fruit. Laurie was a little bummed that the lemon verbena vanilla bean was no longer available, and she ended up choosing a scoop each of salted caramel and brown sugar vanilla bean ($4.50).
Laurie was smiley and smitten with the salted caramel flavor. She excitedly proclaimed more than once how much she loved its distinctly salty notes. Her reaction to the brown sugar vanilla bean was positive as well, but compared to the salted caramel, the flavor paled in comparison. Don’t tell the neighbors, but Laurie discarded her scoop of vanilla in a bush because it “wasn’t worth the calories.”
I chose a scoop of mint cacao nib ice cream ($3.50) served on a store-made waffle cone ($1), and was very happy with both. I appreciated that the mint flavor was derived from fresh herbs rather than a mint extract like most mint chip ice creams. The resulting flavor was clean and genuinely minty, just the way I like it. The crisp, buttery, and sturdy waffle cone was superb as well.
Welcome to the neighborhood, Carmela.
Carmela Ice Cream
2495 East Washington Boulevard
Pasadena, CA 91104