Northeast Pasadena might seem like kind of an unlikely place for an artisan creamery like Carmela Ice Cream -- that is, unless you've been to Bulgarini Gelato, which is even more remotely located in Altadena. But when I stopped in to Carmela today in the midst of the sudden heatwave, the shop was full of neighborhood families sampling the luxuriously creamy stuff, made from Clover organic cream, super fresh fruits and locally grown flowers and herbs. Carmela has been selling at the South Pasadena and Hollywood Farmer's Markets for a few years now, but it's nice to be able to stop by the storefront if you happen to be going for a hike in Eaton Canyon or a shopping trip at Hastings Ranch. Plus, there's a promising basturma shop next door, since Washington Blvd. is Pasadena's own Little Armenia.
Carmela's ice creams are rich and silky but not heavy or cloying, and the fruit flavors are particularly refreshing. I'm mad about the strawberry buttermilk, which tastes like the essence of spring and would be perfect atop an Easter shortcake. Fresh mint with chocolate nibs is assertively minty with nary a hint of bottled extract or green coloring. Dark chocolate with cocoa nibs is just that, but not so bitter it will scare the children. My love for the salted caramel has already been well-documented. Other flavors perfect for the heat include tangelo sorbet, cucumber sorbet and lemon basil sorbet. Carmela's not a sceney place -- there's only a dozen or so flavors at a time, none of them involving balsamic vinegar, blue cheese or beer. It's simply great ice cream, and isn't that enough?
Carmela Artisan Creamery
2495 E Washington Blvd