By Raychel Stewart
Signal Staff Writer
Just like many celebrate a birthday month, ice cream not only has National Ice Cream Day on July 18, but National Ice Cream Month is July.
A great way to celebrate National Ice Cream Day, which was signed as a proclamation by President Ronald Reagan in 1984, as the third Sunday of every month, is to appreciate how ice cream has evolved.
The once-typical, traditional dessert has had many transformations. From shakes to sundaes, the frozen treat has been molded into different shapes, topped with various candies and has now been incorporated with hundreds of different flavors.
“Some flavors have remained popular over the years,” said Siraj Mirza, manager of Paradis Ice Cream at the Westfield Town Center in Valencia. “We still sell the usual vanilla, chocolate and strawberry, but now we have all these other popular flavors like peanut butter chip and sea salt caramel.”
Mirza and his wife, Zaidi, acquired Paradis in 2018 after he said Zaidi wanted to own and operate an ice cream parlor. “This place is her joy,” he added.
Recent trends in popular culture have set the ice cream bar high, with many ice cream shops offering unique flavor combinations, such as black currant brownie cheesecake or Oreo strawberry buttermilk which can be found on occasion at Paradis.
But of all the flavor combinations and classics, taro-flavored ice cream has become a main seller at Paradis because of its subtle sweetness and favorable parings with vanilla or chocolate.
Taro, which is a root vegetable sometimes referred to as purple yam, has broken into the culinary world and can be found in many desserts, including ice cream.
Although ice cream can satisfy a sweet tooth, ice cream can be a great way to enjoy bitter flavors, such as coffee.
“If you want to make really good ice cream, you have to lower the sugar content,” Mirza said. “If you have the right ingredients and they’re fresh, the flavors in the ingredients will be all you need and the ice cream will speak for itself.”
Mirza said he wants to make sure his customers have variety, so the shop has 50 flavors total, but rotates 16 flavors at a time, with four being dairy-free options. Although, some flavors are so popular, they have to be made every day.
Of the popular flavors, dairy-free options have become a staple in ice cream shops. Mirza said he offers four-to-five flavors made with almond or oat milk so those who cannot or choose to not have dairy can also enjoy some ice cream.
“We’ve always offered daily-free options since opening,” Mirza said. “I like to think we pioneered the dairy-free ice cream. Although they’re popular, we have to make them in smaller batches compared to the flavors made with milk.”
Apart from the usual shakes and Frappuccino, Mirza said he likes to stick with the basics when it comes to his ice cream and only offers a few toppings which he said are mainly geared for children since “they like to decorate their ice cream.”
Although some may like the basic flavors and scoops, ice cream has taken a new form, as rolled ice cream has become a big trend in ice cream shops.
Rolled ice cream requires a cold plate, any flavor of ice cream and commonly fruit, chocolate or any other snack which can be mixed in. Once all ingredients are on the cold plate, they are chopped together until well incorporated, then flattened so they can be rolled into spirals. This new trend of ice cream allows people to pick any flavor of ice cream and any mix-ins which are blended together on the spot, and serves as a new way to enjoy ice cream.
Ice cream can, of course, be enjoyed in a milkshake or frappuccino, which can now combine all the different flavors together. Paradis offers set milkshake and frappe combinations, such as a chocolate with cold brew latte chip frappe or a vanilla bean with strawberry milkshake. Because ice cream allows for so many flavor combinations, people are also able to create their own milkshake or Frappuccino by combining any available options.
Ice cream flavors are beginning to move away from sweet and fruity as well, with more savory flavors becoming main stream. Popular flavors are now incorporating spicy components, such as chocolate and jalapeno, or pungent black garlic with cookies and cream.
Depending on the day, these unique flavor combinations can be found at Paradis. Patrons can enjoy a scoop of avocado and lime or basil and lemon flavor combinations that have sweet, tangy and salty flavors all in one.
Today, ice cream can be enjoyed with classic flavors, out-of-the-box flavors, any toppings that can be thought of, with or without dairy, in classic scoops or rolled, there’s an ice cream combination out there for everyone.
“What’s great about selling ice cream is that people are happy when they want ice cream – it’s a happy dessert,” Mirza said. “When you’re happy, ice cream is good. When you’re sad, ice cream is still good.”