Food & Drink

Pink peppercorn? Sacramento region serving up creative ice cream

When it comes to holidays, July is about more than just Independence Day. The summer month also hosts National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day on July 1, and while some chains offer a variety of 31 flavors or prepare their sweet treats on cold stone, a few local eateries are approaching ice cream in a much more daring way.

In no particular order, here are four places to celebrate this day dedicated to frozen cream and cones.

RELATED: Gunther’s named best place for ice cream in California

RELATED: The big Sacramento ice cream taste-off: Which is best?

Baker’s Donuts

5880 Florin Rd.,


(916) 392-8466

Baker’s Donuts is known for taking its donuts to the extreme, offerings flavors such as bacon, purple yam or Captain Crunch. But did you know that they are also pushing the culinary envelope with its ice cream treats?

Along with donuts are four ice cream options, but two that stand out most are the Thai ice tea and taro. These nontraditional flavors are provided by Gunther’s Ice Cream and can be sandwiched between a traditional glazed doughnut for $3.50.

The Thai ice tea flavor does a remarkable job of tasting exactly like the drink. It has a dominant black tea flavor with a milky sweetness. This ice cream combined with a doughnut makes for a truly indulgent snack.

Farrell’s Ice Cream Parlour

1625 Watt Ave.


(916) 972-8000

A trip to Farrell’s may feel like traveling back to the 1950s, but this nostalgic shop is forward thinking with many of its desserts, including its its ice cream nachos.

To mimic real nachos, Farrell’s manager Zach Holtzclaw says all the waffle cones are made in house then broken into chip sized pieces. Single scoops of the chocolate malted crunch, circus animal cookie (which has actual cookies in it) and mint chip are the next layer. Hot fudge, marshmallow and caramel are drizzled on top with whip cream, peanuts and a cherry to finish.

“It’s a huge seller,” Holtzclaw said. “As far as the unique sundaes go, this is probably the best one.”

The waffle cone pieces are sturdy enough to dig into the ice cream and toppings, though spoons are also brought to the table just in case. Bring friends and share these massive nachos for $10.80.

Vampire Penguin

6821 Stockton Blvd.


(916) 421-1304

Vegans and non-dairy folks should consider heading to Vampire Penguin on July 1 for its incredible shaved ice.

The menu includes several toppings and items that can be combined into any number of flavor combinations. The most intriguing flavor on a recent visit was Mexican candy ($5), which includes mango flavored shaved snow that’s topped with caramel sauce, chamoy, chili powder and fresh watermelons. Vampire Penguin founder, Paolo San Luis says the idea came from deconstructing deserts and presenting them through shaved ice.

A mouthful of mango snow topped with fresh watermelon creates a thirst quenching bite, perfect for the summer time. The shaved ice itself is light, and the sweetness from the caramel, chamoy and fruits pair well with the chili powder’s sour bite.

“I usually don’t like sweet and sour, but it’s really refreshing,” said Soua Khang, 31, who was enjoying the dessert this week. “I’m definitely getting it again.”

The Good Scoop

130 G St. Suite A, Davis

(530) 746-2434

A new ice cream shop in Davis is grabbing attention for its truly creative and wild flavors.

The Good Scoop, owned by siblings Stephen and Marnie Layton, is known to carry flavors such as cilantro, geranium, lavender and Earl Grey. Each handmade flavor is crafted by Tara’s Organic Ice Cream in Berkeley, according to Stephen Layton.

Two flavors on their current menu that scream either creative or strange (or both) are the Chinese Five Spice and Pink Peppercorn. For a satisfying bite, a baby scoop is available for $2.50 and garnished with a regular or black sesame waffle cone chip.

The most pronounced initial flavor in the Chinese Five Spice is the white pepper, but the cinnamon is a driving force that brings the fennel, cloves and star of anise together. Pink Peppercorn simply tastes like pink peppercorn and vanilla ice cream. There are actual pieces of pink peppercorn mixed into the ice cream, adding an extra zing when you crunch into them.

“We’ll definitely be doing something (on July 1) and have some of our more creative flavors out,” Layton said. “We’ll be doing sampling as always, so people are welcome to come in and try some new things.”