07 January 2011

Adventure No. 2 -- Contemporary Art and The Best Ice Cream Ever in Santa Monica

Spicy chocolate and vanilla ice creams in a chocolate cone at Sweet Rose Creamery.
I was too excited to wait to take a bite!

Last month I needed an adventure, so went to Sweet Rose Creamery (aka "my happy place") and Bergamot Station Arts Center, two of my favorite local places to clear my head when I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed.

As the sun was peeking out, I emerged from my apartment, the first time in what felt like weeks, and headed to my happy place, which happens to be in the adorable Brentwood Country Mart. The mart feels like a chic country market with restaurants surrounding an outdoor fire; stores selling candy, coffee, clothing, jewelry, home decor and books; a shoe repair and even a post office. Just a little bit of everything you'd need in one spot.

I browsed Diesel bookstore and Calypso, then set off for ice cream. I never thought I'd find store-bought ice cream as good as homemade, but Sweet Rose Creamery is that good. It's so good that I'd eat it for every meal if I could. Seriously. My husband and I had a phase when we were going three times a week. We didn't tire of it, just realized we'd need to hire a personal trainer if we kept it up, but our personal training money was being spent on ice cream.

What makes Sweet Rose special, in addition to their nearly perfect ice cream, is that they use organic, seasonal, farmer's market ingredients. They have a variety of rotating unusual flavors that are pulled off with success -- quince with Manchego swirl was surprisingly delicious -- and the classics are also done well -- chocolate (perfect), salted caramel (also perfect), vanilla (for some reason I like it when I eat it in a cup, find it lacking when I have it in a cone) -- and they have a diverse selection of nondairy options -- toasted almond, kiwi sorbet, coconut lime sorbet (I'm usually not a fan of sorbet, but this was excellent!) -- and the fruit flavors are also incredible -- try the blueberry with blueberry bits or peaches and cream.

The chocolate and regular cones are also amazing, part of the experience, not just a vehicle for transferring ice cream to mouth. The sundaes are a rich treat best shared, and the ice cream sandwiches great but a bit too small to satisfy and the cookie can distract from the main event.

I'm always tempted by the individual ice cream pies and bonbons, but can't seem to break away from the cone. You really can't go wrong in your selection, but try the flavors before you choose; the chocolate can vary in quality and while it's usually one of the best things in the world, twice it's been a bit off, which can lead to a disappointing cone experience.

After savoring my spicy chocolate (perfect hint of spice, deep chocolate, super creamy) and vanilla (next time I'd go with salted caramel) ice creams in a chocolate cone, I drove to Bergamot Station.

One of my favorite Bergamot galleries, Patrick Painter, Inc., is closed until February, but I enjoyed Rachel Lachowicz's solo show about feminine identity at Shoshana Wayne and Anish Kapoor's bright etchings at Greenfield Sacks, then headed home, refreshed, renewed and ready for the rest of my day.
 The sky from Bergamot Station.

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