Sometimes I feel like when I moved to LA, I actually moved to a different country. Several countries, actually. Good thing I’m not running for President because at this point I am completely out of touch with middle America, at least culinarily speaking. I eat “meat and potatoes” literally once a year – when my boyfriend and I commemorate St. Patrick’s day with a special meal (note that neither of us are of Irish descent).
I’ve always been a California girl – I literally do not remember a time in my life when tacos, pad thai and sushi weren’t part of my basic diet. Since moving to LA, my eating has only gotten more adventurous.
I’m referring, of course, to dessert. This is where it becomes evident that people from different cultures don’t just eat different food; we actually have different palates.
My mom was excited (rightfully so) about the opening of La Michoacana in Sonoma. La Michoacana is a massive chain throughout Mexico that sells delicious paletas and nieves in a dazzling array of flavors. Unfortunately, on her first visit, my mom ordered…a mangoneada. A mangoneada is a heap of mango ice mush – yum! – with a liberal dose of chile, lime and salt. This is a little out there for us folks raised on Otter Pops, push-up pops and Klondike Bars.\
But apparently palates can change. I’m pretty sure I used to think mango lollipops covered with chile were disgusting and now I love them.
And if you think Mexican candies and desserts are pushing it, even Pinkberry might be a little much for you these days. Sure they carry traditional vanilla and chocolate frozen yogurt, but you can also opt for a mix of taro and lychee yogurt topped with bits of mochi, boba and azuki beans. But that’s passe. The hot new thing this summer is “Taiwanese snow ice” – which finally solves the problem of all the syrup on snow cones falling to the bottom. This incredible confection is made by mixing flavors and milk and water and freezing it into a big block, then shaving the block into delicious ribbons.
My boyfriend and I have officially succombed to Asian desserts. It started with little Japanese hot cakes fresh off the griddle filled with Azuki bean paste and escalated quickly to green tea frappes with boba and mochi ice cream balls.
Last week, German ordered and devoured an entire Taiwanese snow ice inspired by the Filipino dessert Halo-Halo – original flavor with taro whipped cream and condensed milk, topped with jackfruit, palm fruit and honeydew flavored gelatin. We’ve officially broken through to the other side. Pass the chile powder.
**Side note: I actually wrote this blog post last summer and spaced out on posting it. Taiwanese snow ice is SO last year…but still awesome. Believe it or not, even more desserts are now available. If you want any dessert, just head over to Little Tokyo. I believe that Little Tokyo offers the highest concentration of diverse and high-quality desserts in the entire world:
Mochi w/ice cream
Traditional Japanese sweet shop
Frozen Yogurt – Pinkberry OR Yogurtland
Green tea donuts, taro churros, roti rolls w/filling…We love you Cafe Dulce
And please note the bakery in the heart of Little Tokyo Village is good too, and The Pie Hole is within walking distance. And you can get Taiwanese snow ice at a couple of places…And on the Latino side – Mama Churro’s in El Sereno is unreal. If you want a nieve, it’s hard to beat the guy selling them out of a cooler outside of elementary schools at pick up time, but he is slightly elusive. Mateo’s Ice Cream and Fruit Bars is a great stop after gorging yourself on Korean BBQ in Koreatown/Mid-city. And I still haven’t gotten into the unique desserts of about 10 other countries that I’m sure you can find in LA, not to mention the recent cronut and ice cream sandwich crazes. I simply can’t go on – not a single bite more.