Farmers Market Favorite Mid-Late Summer Has Made More than a Hundred Flavors of Ice Cream
Including malted noni, jackfruit camomile and ‘ulu peanut butter and grape.
Photos: Martha Cheng
Fall is here, which means burnt hay; browned butter and butternut squash; and black lime ice cream. At least it does in the world of Aaron Lopez, who created Mid-Late Summer earlier this year with ice cream flavors beyond vanilla and chocolate. Far beyond. As in a masa ash sorbet made with cornmeal, burnt corn husks and aloe—the latter, Lopez says, gives the scoop a creamy texture.
Since he began Mid-Late Summer, he says he’s never repeated a flavor for the farmers markets where he does much of his business, which means he’s made more than a hundred flavors so far, from strawberry eucalyptus to malted noni to jackfruit camomile. He scoops at Kaka‘ako Farmers Market and Kailua Farmers Market, makes the flavors for milkshakes at The Daley in downtown and supplies the ice cream case at Ars Cafe on Monsarrat.
A few weeks ago, he released new fall flavors for Ars ($5/scoop), including marshmallow with maple and molasses; toasted hay, which tastes surprisingly like matcha, with a roasty note at the end; and a brown butter butternut squash, like a frozen version of butternut squash bisque. His ice cream tends to have a savory edge and complex flavor.
Lopez, previously the pastry chef for Pai, says he wanted to apply fine dining techniques to ice cream, to compose different flavor profiles—sweet, salty, sour, bitter—all in one bite. And it gives him a way to play with ingredients both familiar and foreign. Take the noni experiment: He let the noni over-ripen, pureed it with malt powder and then candied it before adding it to the ice cream base. The result, he says, was “buttery, rich and cheesy.”
He says he likes “making things that can be a little uncomfortable at times, but calling it an ice cream—that’s how I’m able to rope people in. There’s a sense of familiarity.”
The name Mid-Late Summer has nothing to do with ice cream, but with poppies. “I’m fascinated by the idea of a poppy,” Lopez says. “Mid-to-late-summer is when the poppy produces the most you can get out of it—anything from latex to narcotics. It’s versatile, beautiful, sought after, but it can still kill, be dangerous. And that’s the way I approach things—pushing the limits of a product.”
So while he does occasionally use poppies, like burning poppy seeds and adding them to the black lime (a type of preserved lime) ice cream, or creating an absinthe swirl with poppy seeds (a nod to how people used to drink absinthe, mixed with opium), Lopez says he “uses the idea of a poppy as a metaphor, not a mascot.”
So don’t go looking for straight-up chocolate and vanilla from Mid-Late Summer. There are plenty of other places for that. Only Mid-Late Summer has ‘ulu ice cream with peanut butter and grape, moringa with white chocolate, and whatever else Lopez dreams up this week.
Join us at Kahala Mall on Saturday, Nov. 9, 2019 from 4 to 9 p.m. for our first-ever Burger Bash—a free event celebrating all things burgers. We’ve rounded up some of our favorites including The Butcher & Bird, Smith and Kings, Square Barrels, Burgers & Burritos Hawai‘i and more. Stay tuned for more details.