A great number of great things have come from Denmark. Hamlet. The Killing. Legos. To this we add: ice cream. Now open in Los Feliz, Paradis Ice Cream replaces the space vacated by Pinkberry on Vermont and brings Danish-style ice cream to the neighborhood.
Paradis actually is a chain of about 30 ice-cream shops in Denmark. Mia Pedersen, her boyfriend, and her brother, all from Denmark, came to Los Angeles, noted that there weren't too many ice-cream shops with a philosophy similar to Paradis's emphasis on all-natural, high-quality ingredients, and decided to import the Danish shop to their new home city. After talking with Paradis' owners, they were given permission to start the only U.S. locations of the franchise.
The original store, in Montrose, opened a year and a half ago and proved to be quite popular in the neighborhood. "We got so busy [in Montrose] that we felt like we needed another location to sell our ice-cream," Pedersen says. And so, they seized the opportunity left vacant by Pinkberry and opened up shop on the stretch of Vermont between The Dresden and Vermont Kitchen and Bar.
In bringing the Danish ice-cream shop stateside, little was lost in translation. The family even retained the Danish pun: the "is" in "Paradis" translates to "ice-cream" (in English, the name would be "Parad-Ice Cream). The trio decided to stick with the Danish name, as it is more distinct - and, let's face it, somehow less corny - than the English version.
As for Danish-style ice-cream, Pedersen explains, "This is similar to the gelato you would get in Italy, but lighter and less fattening." That is, not quite like most of the gelato you would find here, which tend to be more like ice-cream than, say, the denser gelato at Giolitti or other Italian gelateria.
Paradis's dairy ice-creams are milk-based and incorporate as little air as possible during the churning process, resulting in scoops that are surprisingly creamy, soft, and light. Even the vegan-friendly sorbets, made of water and fresh fruit, have a rich mouthfeel.
"When you use quality ingredients, you don't need those [artificial flavors] to make the ice-cream taste good," says Pedersen. "If it's a coffee ice-cream, we grind our own coffee. If it's a champagne flavor, we pop a bottle of champagne. We use real berries - raspberries, blueberries, strawberries - from the farmers' market." Ingredients are carefully sourced worldwide: the cocoa powder for their chocolate-based flavors are from Holland, the pistachios are from Sicily, and the vanilla beans are from Madagascar.
The hand lettered sign outside on the storefront announces "Homemade Ice Cream - Everyday," a promise that Paradis fulfills every morning. Drawing from its collection of some 200 recipes, a batch of 16 to 18 flavors are made fresh before the store opens at noon and posted on their Facebook page. On the day we popped in, stracciatella, Ferrero Rocher, and lime were a few of the day's offerings. "We can do all sorts of flavors, depending on what's available and depending on demand. We can be creative," she says.
The Los Feliz location just opened a little more than a week ago, and there is little trace of the Pinkberry that once swirled in its place. Pinkberry's grass-green and blue exterior has been replaced with an earthy deep orange-red that stands out vibrantly next to the Barney-tinged exterior of hair salon Purple Circle next door.
Inside, there are a few loungy sofas and two tables and stools that recall Pinkberry's pop minimalism, but this too will soon be replaced, with furniture direct from Denmark. "Design is very important with the Danish," she explains. She points out the light fixtures hanging from the ceiling. "Here, even these are from a Danish company." When Paradis is completely furnished, there will be a mix of art hanging on the walls and new tables and seating both inside the shop and outside on the small patio.
Which brings us to the big ice-cream social. Paradis will celebrate its grand opening in Los Feliz with a party, complete with music and free ice-cream for the sampling
on Saturday, April 30 from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. We recommend that strawberry sorbet if it's there. And the pistachio. And the lime sorbet, which has the sharp tang of lime that only comes from actual limes. To borrow a bit from Polonius, this might be the very ecstasy of ice-cream love.
Update: Per Pedersen, the furniture shipment is a bit delayed, so they're going to hold off on the grand opening party until an undetermined date. The shop remains open for all your ice-cream needs, but keep an eye on their Facebook page for the exact date of the party.