July is National Ice Cream Month, so why not celebrate with a couple of scoops of something more adventurous than vanilla?
Secret Breakfast in San Francisco
Humphry Slocombe was one of the earliest adopters of the artisanal and weird flavor ice cream trends, garnering much attention for their foie gras ice cream sandwich -- discontinued after California banned the delicacy. Less cruel, and probably tastier, is Humphry Slocome's Secret Breakfast flavor, made with bourbon and cornflakes, and the self-explanatory Thai chili lime sorbet.
Durian in New York City
At Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, one of NYC Chinatown's oldest businesses, strawberry and vanilla are listed under "exotic" flavors while the list of "regular" flavors includes pandan (Malaysian leaf), don tot (Chinese egg custard), black sesame, and the famously stinky durian. They've also introduced a new soy sauce flavor this summer.
Peking Duck in Dallas, Austin, New York, and Los Angeles
Coolhaus gourmet ice cream trucks cruise the streets of these four cities. You can follow their Twitter feeds to find out where they'll be pulling up next to dish out scoops of their Peking duck (with duck skin and fortune cookie crumble), gin and tonic, cuban cigar, and fried chicken and waffles flavors.
Lobster in New England
In business since the 1950s, Ben and Bill's Chocolate Emporium operates four nostalgia-inducing stores in Maine and Massachusetts. The stores offer inventive, boozy flavors -- including Irish mudslide, made with Bailey's, and K.G.B. with a Kahlua- and Bailey's-based ice cream and Grand Marnier fudge swirl. Their signature, however, is the Lobster, a butter-flavored ice cream with chunks of real lobster meat.
Saison with Sunflower Seeds and Golden Flax in Columbus
We sang the praises of Columbus, Ohio's Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream in a recent feature, but it bears repeating. Jeni's makes its ice creams "from the ground up" with milk from grass-grazed cows and natural ingredients. Flavors change with the seasons, and one of the most recent additions is the saison with sunflower seeds and golden flax, made with local Rockmill Brewery ale, double-toasted sunflower, flax, and pumpkin seeds.
Black Raspberries and Smoked Ham in Portland
Known for their adventurous ice creams flavors that reflect both the local food scene and the current season, Salt & Straw is a Portland favorite. Ice cream is made in small batches using all-natural cream from Eugene and includes such unusual combinations as Oregon black raspberries paired with a salty, smoked ham ice cream.
Roasted Garlic Almond Chip in Minneapolis
"We are always experimenting with interesting new flavor combinations," says Minneapolis' Sebastian Joe's Ice Cream, which has been serving homemade small-batch ice cream since 1984. Two of the most interesting on their current menu are the roasted garlic almond chip and the When Pigs Fly, made with maple, bacon, chocolate chips, and black pepper.
Earl Grey Sriracha in Philadelphia
Philadelphians, too, can get their fix of the spicy sauce in ice cream form with this offering from Little Baby's. But the bizarre flavors don't stop here. From Little Baby's two stores or from their custom-made tricycles, you can also try everything bagel, chocolate teriyaki, or pumpkin curry ice creams.
Avocado with Mint and Sour Cream in New Orleans
The Creole Creamery's stated goal is "to offer you a unique ice cream experience." It offers a rotating selection of offbeat flavors, so you can never be quite sure what might be on the menu. A few of the most memorable flavors include honeypear with goat cheese, olive oil and fig, and the daring avocado with mint and sour cream.