Nothing in life is as sweet as ice cream in summertime. To indulge in it during these hot months is always a forgivable sin. That diet can wait. It's summer after all.
In Irvine, the best place to treat oneself is Stricklands on Campus Drive.
Hailing originally from Ohio, this solitary California outpost of the franchise sells soft serve, freshly made out of gleaming churning machines that look like they belong in the engine room of a steamer ship. The ice cream produced by these metal contraptions is silken, devoid of ice crystals, and thoroughly smooth. Before Haagen Dazs hardens, it would taste like this.
Two special Flavors-of-the-Day are offered, along with Chocolate and Vanilla, which are always available. You can order it straight up in a cone or have it dolled up in a myriad of ways, including drizzled with toppings for a sundae or whipped into a cold shake.
When you order it as is, a unique conical scoop sculpts each serving into a shape out of Van Gogh's The Starry Night, with stiff, undulating curves that end in pointed peaks. This is Stricklands' signature -- something they probably should patent.
We had our vanilla soft serve with half a banana, some chocolate syrup, whipped cream, chopped nuts, and a Maraschino cherry. They called it a Banana Boat ($3.95). We called it "summer".
Stricklands Ice Cream
4523 Campus Dr
Irvine, CA 92612