Tourist Tip #44 / Boutique Ice Cream

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream. In the first installment of a three-part series on frozen desserts, we take a look at boutique ice cream parlors.

Israelis have a sweet tooth for mass-produced ice cream bars, which are so beloved they are even available on the beaches, proffered to bikini-clad sunbathers by sellers who patrol the coast with a massive ice box and shout about their wares.

You can also find your fair share of soft-serve, referred to in these parts as "glida amerikayit" – literally, "American ice cream." But Israeli tastes have become more discerning in recent years, with boutique-style ice cream parlors popping up across the country and scooping up their goods for the hot and hungry masses.

These "glideriot," as ice-cream parlors are called, offer a slew of homemade flavors, usually made from locally sourced ingredients. The goodies are available by the scoop in cups or in cones, and if you are puzzled by the dizzying variety, that's okay: Most parlors are happy to let you sample several flavors before making a choice.

If you still can't make up your mind but only want a small portion, most places are happy to sell you two half scoops for the price of one, so you can mix and match to your heart's content. You should note, however, that the store may charge an extra or shekel or two for this.

But the decisions aren’t over yet. After you select your flavor, you can add several sauces including toffee, chocolate, wild berry or maple syrup, and some shops also have toppings like chocolate sprinkles or even slices of Belgian waffles to put your dessert over the top.

If you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or watching your waistline, don't fret. Israel's ice cream parlors generally have low-fat and sugar-free options, as well as sorbet made from fresh fruit. And in this kosher-conscious country, many shops offer soy-based ice creams and are happy to tell you which scoops are parve (dairy-free).

As for flavors, you’re sure to see tried-and-tested classics like chocolate, vanilla, and rum raisin, alongside more seasonal, local ones like grapefruit or pistachio. But the ice cream craze has also gotten Israel's ice cream purveyors thinking outside the box. Stay tuned for tomorrow's tourist tip: unusual ice cream flavors.