If you’re anywhere near UCI, make sure to stop and smell the roses. We’re not talking about the landscaping, here – we’re saying that you need to stop by Saffron & Rose. This Persian ice cream spot combines Iranian flavors with American classics for a dessert experience that’s more mind-blowing than brain freeze.
The Best Ice Cream Flavors in Orange County
We’ve written about game-changing Orange County ice cream shops before, but Saffron & Rose offers interesting flavors than even the most avant-garde dessert places can’t compete with. Not only are they different than anything you’ve seen at Baskin Robbins, but they’re also time-tested. Persian chefs have been making sweets with rosewater, pistachio and saffron for much longer than America has been a country, so you know this stuff is delicious.
My Saffron & Rose Menu Recommendations
The breadth of options at Saffron & Rose can be pretty intimidating, so it might be worth checking out their ice cream flavor menu before your visit. If you prefer to wing it, no worries – it’s hard to go wrong here.
On my visit, I opted for a two-scoop sundae. I went with one scoop of white rose and one of pomegranate, and let me tell you – that’s got to be one of the best combos you can come up with. Sweet, tart and immensely flavorful, the pomegranate ice cream is given even more of a boost by the addition of fresh pomegranate arils. It’s rounded out nicely by the creaminess of white rose, and both of them work together perfectly – neither becomes overwhelming.
Several of the flavors have their own mix-ins, not just pomegranate. The dark chocolate flavor is actually closer to a rocky road, and the large amount of walnut chunks swirled into it is absolutely lovely.
It goes perfectly with their strawberry ice cream, too. Instead of using artificial flavors, you can tell by the taste that Saffron & Rose uses real fruit for flavoring.
If that didn’t already prove their commitment to craftsmanship, the saffron and pistachio flavor will. They’re not messing around here. It’s chock-full of nuts, which give it a crunchy texture and saltiness that’s well-balanced by sweet, creamy saffron ice cream. It’s beautiful to look at, even better to eat, and definitely one of my recommended must-tries.
The Showstopper: Faloodeh Ice Cream
Faloodeh, “one of the world’s earliest-known frozen desserts”, is one of Saffron & Rose’s most famous flavors. It’s made out of thin, starchy noodles, rosewater syrup, and a little bit of lemon or lime to add freshness. Back in the day, people in Persia had to keep faloodeh in elaborate structures made of ice and clay (yakhchals), and it was limited to special occasions only. By using this innovative freezing method, they were able to pass down this delicious recipe for thousands of years, and now we get to enjoy the fruits of their labor.
Modern freezers allow us to enjoy this treat anytime we want, so let’s not let their efforts go to waste. Faloodeh ice cream is perfect for the sweltering summer months. The weather’s warming up, so the time to stop by is now. Try this flavor on its own or have it as a crunchy ice cream sandwich. Either way, you can’t go wrong.
Where to Find Saffron & Rose
Irvine’s best Persian ice cream shop is within walking distance of the UCI campus, but not (as you might expect) in University Town Center. To get there, head to the corner of Campus Drive and Berkeley Avenue, making sure to turn into the shopping center when you see a sign for The Habit.
If your GPS doesn’t take you to the right spot, just sniff around for the smell of fresh waffle cones. Each scoop of ice cream is topped with a small waffle cookie, so they’re constantly baking them fresh.
The Orange County Ice Cream Tour
If you’re on a culinary tour of Irvine and you want some other ice cream places to compare to Saffron & Rose, check out a few of our other favorites: