By ALYSSA TANG
Two new specialty ice cream shops, Cauldron and Saffron & Rose opened in Irvine in 2019.
Cauldron Ice Cream, featuring handcrafted ice cream made with liquid nitrogen, opened its first store in South Coast Metro in 2014. They recently opened their newest location in the Cypress Shopping Center in Irvine this year.
As I entered the corner shop, I was mesmerized by the foggy liquid nitrogen seeping out from under the glass panels that shielded the shiny steel mixers from customers. By using liquid nitrogen, creamy, fresh ice cream can be made in shorter amounts of time than churned ice cream. Besides the silky smooth texture, Cauldron’s presentation is flawless, completed by carving the ice cream into an aesthetic rose. They offer unique flavors such as Post Melone and Strawberry Unicorn, served in a cup, cone, or puffle cone. The puffle cone, which was inspired by the popular Hong Kong street egg waffle, comes in original, churro, and red velvet. Even though the ice cream is a bit on the pricier side at $4.75 for a small cup, or $6.50 in a puffle cone, it contains a generous amount of ice cream.
I highly recommend getting a puffle cone, which wraps around the ice cream, giving it a variation in texture and flavor. The puffle cone is a treat that would satisfy any sweet tooth; the crispy outside, combined with the fluffy inside makes the puffle cone a perfect delicious cradle for the ice cream. I ordered the mouthwatering red velvet puffle cone which was still warm when I took my first bite. It paired well with the Sea Salted Caramel Crunch that was composed of a creamy base with mini pretzel bits, caramel drizzle on top, and a sprinkle of sea salt. While the caramel flavor in the ice cream was faint, the pretzels gave it an extra dimension of crunchiness.
Since their ice cream flavors sound so enticing, I decided to try two more flavors. The Sun Moon & Stars is a blend of oolong, jasmine, and green tea, with little star sprinkles on top. The tea ice cream flavors reminded me of a more subtle milk tea blend. I also tried the Vietnamese Coffee, made with coffee and condensed milk, which definitely packed a punch as the coffee flavor was stronger than I expected. During the weekends, there are often lines for their famous puffle cone. To avoid long lines, go during non peak hours such as when they open at 12:00pm or around 4:00pm.
Another new high-end ice cream shop, Saffron & Rose, recently opened a branch in the University Town Center, across from UCI in March of 2019.
The original high quality ice cream shop was founded 75 years ago in Tehran. In the 1970s, the founder brought his recipes to Southern California where he introduced authentic Persian-style ice cream, which is lighter and more refreshing than traditional ice cream.
As I stepped into the shop, a myriad of colors and fragrance indulged my senses. While they offer traditional ice cream flavors, such as dark chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry, their specialties are exotic flavors such as Date, Faloodeh (Iranian sweet noodle sorbet) and Fig & Cranberry.
Their diverse selection of delicious floral flavors, such as white rose, lavender, and jasmine reminded me of milk tea flavors. All kinds of fresh fruit and nuts were visibly part of their ingredients. A friendly staff member told me about the top three best sellers when I explained that it was my first visit. After trying several samples she offered, I decided on a triple scoop for $6.00.
The first flavor I chose was their signature Saffron & Pistachio, which had a light flowery taste combined with a nutty aftertaste. It was a burst of flavors topped off with a generous amount of fresh pistachios, adding texture to the ice cream. Their passion fruit was similar to a sorbet, as it was very flavorful and slightly tart. The fig and cranberry ice cream contained big chunks of fresh ingredients. The fig was sweet while the cranberries had a tart flavor, balancing each other out. Overall, it was a refreshing experience and definitely worth a visit.
Saffron & Rose is perfect if you enjoy exotic ice cream with chunky fruit and nuts, while Cauldron is your go-to place for beautifully crafted rose-shaped ice-cream in a puffle cone. Since they are both located in Irvine, why not try both?
Cauldron Ice Cream is located at 14001 Jeffrey Rd, Irvine, CA, 92620
Saffron & Rose is located at 4523 Campus Dr, Irvine, CA, 92612