Salt & Straw now has a new lineup of flavors for the month of June. Photo by Lauren J. Mapp

As the temperature rises in Southern California, sweet tooth cravings start gravitating toward ice cream. This June, Salt & Straw is featuring a new collection of flavors, inspired by camping and cookouts.

Naturally, this means there is a Campfire S’mores flavor — complete with graham crackers, chocolate and marshmallow fluff — included in the lineup.

Other flavors include Buttermilk Pancakes with maple-pralined bacon and eggs; Mushroom Muddy Buddies made with peanut butter and chocolate-coated Chex, hazelnuts and mushrooms; and Wild Fennel Amaro Milk-Sorbet made with juniper and sage in a milk sorbet.

The vegan Berries, Beans and BBQ Sauce ice cream — with a baked bean ganache and strawberry barbecue sauce — is perfect for those abstaining from animal by-products.

The menu at Salt & Straw fluctuates regularly, with several signature flavors co-mingling with a collection of seasonal specials that kicks off at the start of each month.

Owner Tyler Malek often gets inspired to create flavors around the time when they’ll be served, so many of them are created a year in advance. For him, coming up with new ice cream ideas starts with storytelling.

“The hardest part of creating flavors is actually creating the boundaries around how you want to create those flavors,” Malek said. “When I look at a month, instead of saying, ‘I want to make these flavors in August,’ I kind of have to step back and say, ‘I want us to tell this story in August.’”

Malek co-owns the Portland-based ice cream chain with his cousin Kim Malek, and the two approach business from different angles. While Tyler draws from his culinary studies to create menu items, she’s inspired by a desire to build a sense of fellowship where they operate.

“She always had this vision of creating kind of a space, a community gathering space,” Tyler said. “She wanted to kind of create this place where people could come and meet their neighbor and learn a little bit about the guy that’s bringing in strawberries that day.”

Salt & Straw has 19 locations strung across the west coast states. Local ice cream connoisseurs can visit shops in Little Italy and Del Mar, which opened in March.

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