The most famous Persian ice creamery in Los Angeles is Mashti Malone's, but the best Persian ice cream actually comes from Saffron & Rose, a colorful shop in the heart of Little Tehran (a.k.a. Westwood Boulevard between Olympic and Wilshire), where they serve a particularly gooey and glutinous version of the sweet, cold treat. Their specialty is, as their name might suggest, a saffron and rose ice cream known as golo bol bol. We prefer isolated versions of just the saffron or just the rose; when the two are blended into a single ice cream, the latter tends to overpower the former.
Rose is a tricky flavorant, especially for American palates unaccustomed to floral elements in food. In fact, Saffron & Rose's lavender ice cream tastes like a potpourri sachet gone rogue. But there's nothing to complain about in their two varieties of rose ice cream: the plain, sugar-intensive white rose and the more complex, tart red rose. If we had to pick, we'd choose the red rose; together, they make a perfect double-scoop.
Saffron & Rose sells a few standard ice cream flavors (strawberry, chocolate, cookies and cream), but its mainstay, the reason you'll hear Farsi from the flocks of customers waiting in line on most any night, is the smattering of exotic flavors like fresh ginger, guava, apple, cantaloupe and cucumber. Yes, cucumber. Unlike the smooth cucumber sorbet at Carmela, this is is sticky, ooey gooey ice cream unwilling to decamp from your spoon, and it's mottled with tiny, teeth-chilling chunks of frozen cucumber. Is that good? Is that bad? It's interesting. (Takeaway pints of most flavors line the store's floor-to-ceiling freezers. You can also find Saffron & Rose ice cream in the freezer section of many nearby Persian markets.)
In addition to their housemade ice cream, Saffron & Rose also offers faloudeh, a traditional Persian dessert made with tiny slivers of white rice noodles in nearly translucent rosewater. It's customarily dressed with lemon juice and sour cherry syrup, and large bottles of the stuff stand at the ready, though that'll dampen the intensity of the rose. Is that what you want? Maybe.
Sometimes, it seems like rosewater is in every ice cream at Saffron & Rose. For some, that may be too much. We say, God bless you, Mr. Rosewater.
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