I am happy to report that the children of Irvine will not have to look far for an ice cream cone this summer. In fact, they won’t even have to look far for an ice cream burrito, or an ice cream Puffle.
I got the tough assignment of exploring the city’s ice cream scene one recent warm, sunny day. First stop: Cauldron in Cypress Village Shopping Center. A boy named Jack Bhataravidhya was there with his mom. I asked how he liked his marshmallow-topped S’Mores cone.
“It tastes like rainbows!” he exclaimed. Jack is only 5, but I’m thinking he might have a future in advertising.
Cauldron’s claim to fame is the Puffle, a warm, soft cone that puffs up when cooked. It also makes each ice cream to order with fast-freezing liquid nitrogen, so there’s a bit of a show (water vapor billowing from behind the counter, like a magician’s fog). The flavors are intriguing, too.
One is called Sun Moon & Stars. Creamy milk tea ice cream with notes of jasmine, oolong and green tea, the menu reads.
Cauldron was born in an Orange County garage in 2014. Soon after, its photogenic Puffle went viral. I tried one stuffed with strawberry shortcake ice cream (swirled into the shape of a rosebud). I devoured it, snapped a photo for my Instagram and moved on to Honeymee in Harvard Place Shopping Center.
If you’re a soft serve sort of family, this is your spot. Each cup starts with the dreamiest vanilla ice cream made from whole milk. You choose whether to drizzle it with honey, caramel, chocolate, coffee or a combo of honey, yuzu pulp and cornflakes.
Too tame? Head over to Scoops N Scoops in Walnut Village Center, where you can brave an ice cream “burrito,” your choice of funky flavors (Arabian Baklava?) and toppings (Fruity Pebbles?) wrapped in cotton candy.
Afters at Irvine Spectrum Center has become a social media star for stuffing its ice cream into its signature Milky Bun (think of a warm, glazed doughnut, but without the hole).
Soon there will be a new kid on the block. Saffron & Rose, specializing in small-batch, Persian-style ice cream with floral flavors, is opening in Campus Plaza this summer.