The Best Ice Cream In The World
Ice creams at Sweet Rose Creamery, LA. Photograph by Ms Emily Hart Roth
Here’s the scoop on the finest places on the planet to get your frozen desserts.
Ice cream was supposedly a dessert favoured by King Charles II of England in the 17th century. A century prior to that, Queen Catherine de’ Medici brought the recipe with her to France from Florence when she married King Henri II. Things have moved on somewhat and these days you can find floats, sorbets and sandwiches joining gelato in a variety of milks, from sheep to goat, as well as a growing number of dairy-free varieties, such as coconut-milk ice cream. And then there are the flavours, which are too numerous and exotic to even attempt to list here.
All of this newfound variety brings with it a range in quality. Some is great, some is good and some is just plain bad. And bad ice cream, to paraphrase Ms Prue Leith, the newly appointed judge of The Great British Bake Off, is simply not worth the calories. You can’t eat the stuff every day and expect to stay in shape, so when you do, it makes sense to do it properly. To ensure that your scoop is the crème de la crème, we’ve rounded up seven of the world’s best ice cream parlours.
Dolci Café Silkream, Tokyo
Photograph courtesy Nissei Company Ltd
Soft serve ice cream at Silkream, Tokyo. Photograph by Mr Michael Shen/I’m Still Hungry
Shibuya is one of the busiest places on the planet – Tokyo’s buzziest neighbourhood is a roiling mix of humanity trying to get somewhere, and doing it in 30°C heat. A pause is invariably a good idea and Silkream is a good place to do it. With its stripped wood floors, higgledy-piggledy furniture and general Cape-Cod-in-summer vibe, it stands singular in this most Japanese part of the capital. Don’t let that put you off, though. The ice cream is superb. It sells cones, sundaes and plate-size crepes with Alpine ranges of ice cream, which is some of the creamiest and richest we know.
What to order: cremia with langue de chat cone, which translates as creamy soft ice cream with a butter biscuit cone
What to wear
Sweet Rose Creamery, Los Angeles
Ice cream cones at Sweet Rose Creamery
Sweet Rose Creamery, LA. Photographs by Ms Emily Hart Roth, courtesy of Sweet Rose Creamery, LA
For seven years, Los Angeles’ Sweet Rose Creamery has been attending to the iced needs of Angelenos, first from Brentwood Country Mart and now from four other locations. Its head chef, Ms Shiho Yoshikawa, an alumna of Tartine Bakery, founded the place with her friend Ms Zoe Nathan, with a mission to use the best ingredients to make farmers’-market-inspired flavours. In practice, that means ensuring the kitchen is kosher, GMO free and has a relationship with local farms. It gets organic milk and cream from Clover Farms in Pennsylvania, eggs from California's Chino Valley Ranchers and fresh fruit and nuts from the Santa Monica Farmers’ Market. Everything is made daily, everything is delicious.
What to order: if it’s one of the flavours of the month, then anything involving its pistachio ice cream
What to wear
Photographs by Ms Vasileia Eleftheriadou/The Viennese Girl
Ice creams at Tichy, Vienna
It may be in the 10th district of Vienna, away from the city’s main attractions, but Tichy is a place of pilgrimage. Not simply because its interior has a touch of the Mr Wes Andersons about it, but because its founder, Mr Klaus Tichy, has hit upon a (secret) ice-cream recipe that allows him to redefine the workaday flavours we all grew up on. In Mr Tichy’s hands, even flavours such as humble vanilla or hazelnut are subtly elevated. For something entirely different, sample one of their specialities, such as the sachertorte flavour or spaghetti ice cream, topped with strawberry sauce. This is a place for those who like their ice cream sweet and the decor even sweeter.
What to order: the iced apricot dumpling coated in crunchy hazelnuts, their speciality since 1967
What to wear
Jelberts, Newlyn, Cornwall
Clotted cream ice cream at Jelbert’s, Cornwall. Photograph by mS Monica Shaw
Photograph by Mr Matt Sephton
Visit the town of Newlyn on a summer’s day and you will notice something peculiar: a large queue snaking out of a non-descript shop. Find that queue and you will have found Jelberts, the best ice-cream shop in England. In the grand tradition of British seaside service, it offers just one flavour, vanilla. And it makes only a couple of drums a day, from cream and milk and not much else. When it’s gone, it’s gone and the shop shuts. We recommend you eat it with some clotted cream and perhaps a flake. Jelberts is run by multiple-Olympic-gold-winning rower Ms Helen Glover’s family and, as far as we are concerned, it should get a gold medal, too.
What to order: vanilla, piled high with clotted cream
What to wear
Il Laboratorio Del Gelato, New York
Il Laboratorio del Gelato, New York. Photographs courtesy of Il Laboratorio del Gelato
Black grape sorbet at Il Laboratorio del Gelato, New York
Walking past Il Laboratorio on Ludlow Street in Manhattan is a peculiar experience. Is it a gallery? Is it an architect’s practice? Is it some sort of cosmology centre? With its neon counter, strip lighting and concrete floor, it doesn’t look like a traditional ice-cream parlour. But it is none the worse for it. Founded by Mr Jon Snyder, who also founded Ciao Bella Gelato, it offers 250 flavours of ice cream and sorbet, stretching from favourites such as vanilla to more outré sesame seed creations. Mr Snyder is the Willy Wonka of ice cream, and we can’t get enough of him.
What to order: tart black grape sorbet, or one of the punchy peppercorn flavours
What to wear
Coconut Glen’s, Hana, Hawaii
Papaya Lime at Coconut Glen’s, Hawaii. Photograph by Mr Hiral Gosalia
Coconut Glen’s, Hawaii. Photograph by Ms Tammy Loh
Most of the ice cream parlours on this list use pretty traditional recipes – eggs, milk, a bit of cream. That is the holy triumvirate of the ice-cream maker. But what if you don’t want to use dairy? Mr Glen Simkins has the answer at his Hawaii ice cream shop – coconut milk. It’s not a new thing, but what makes Coconut Glen’s such a special place is the range of flavours and his recipe. The former chef, who grew up in Boston, was declared by Condé Nast Traveler readers to have one of the best ice-cream shops in the world. Who are we to disagree?
What to order: coffee toffee, or fragrant hibiscus lychee
What to wear
Berthillon, Paris. Photograph by Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images
Ice creams at Berthillon, Paris. Photograph by Sipa Press/REX/Shutterstock
It is one of the less attractive quirks of humanity that when everyone likes a place, there is a tendency to dismiss it. Everyone knows Berthillon, but there is good reason. This ice cream shop has been selling the best there is in France since the 1950s. Somehow its flavours taste that bit truer, that tiny bit deeper than everyone else’s. As well as a dizzying array of ice creams, it also does fantastic sorbets, the best being the cacao extrabitter, one the finest uses of a bit of chocolate that we know of.
What to order: the classicsalted butter caramel