Don’t get us wrong, we’re big fans of Jaime Oliver’s recent efforts to revamp the unhealthy menus at Los Angeles’ public schools, but this past week’s news that LAUSD is seeking a ban of ‘flavored milks”, which includes perennial favorites chocolate and strawberry, had us feeling sadly nostalgic. Sure, HFCS-laden chocolate milk may not be the healthiest beverage out there (it’s got protein, right?), but is there anything more quintessential to the American childhood than opening that paper carton and taking a sip of rich, cocoa-laden sweetness? We fear that schoolchildren of the future will be as unfamiliar with the iconic brown beverage as they are with air raid drills or scoliosis screenings. Heavy sigh…
Luckily for the sugar-deprived youngster, or adult, Los Angeles is still home to several places that pride themselves on a cool glass of the good stuff.
At MILK (7290 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles; 323-939-6455), the mid-city mecca to all things dairy, the chocolate milk served in a tall frosted sundae glass is a crowd favorite. In a modern twist, this nouveau ice cream parlor offers the option to have your chocolate milk “ice blended” as well. Call us purists, but we prefer it straight up.
Mar Vista’s A-Frame (12565 Washington Blvd, Los Angeles; 310-398-7700), the latest eatery from Kogi’s child-at-heart chef Roy Choi, features a dessert of cinnamon-coated pound cake churros served with a glass of malted chocolate milk. It’s a rich treat that gives new meaning to “after-school special”.
On the “secret menu” at Bird Pick Tea & Herb (locations in Culver City, Pasadena and Santa Monica) you’ll find the store’s unique version of “chocolate milk”: a peculiar blend of iced black and ginger teas, cacao nibs, condensed milk and a dash of cinnamon. It’s not quite the same as what the lunch lady used to shell out, but its complex flavor hits all notes of the original.
Milk tea, chocolate milk’s ubiquitous Asian cousin, holds a cult following in Los Angeles, and for good reason. We love taiwanese mega-chain Quickly (750 N. Hill St., Los Angeles), which has over 70 locations in the L.A. area, for their a massive 250-item beverage menu filled with near unlimited dairy possibilities. Try the strawberry or chocolate milk tea, both which are heavier on milk than tea, along with an added scoop of tapioca boba or their special “milk pudding”.
If your not deterred by a long drive or the pungent smell of dairy farm, then you might want to consider skipping the middle man and getting your gallons straight from the source. Norwalk Dairy (13101 Rosecrans Ave, Santa Fe Springs; 562-921-5712) and Driftwood Dairy (10724 Lower Azusa Rd, El Monte; 626-444-9591) both sell fresh chocolate milk made on-site and sold at wholesale prices. The best part? A drive-thru window ensures that you don’t even need to leave your car to get your lactose fix.
Hardcore choco-holics might want to try locally-made Broguiere’s Extra Creamy Chocolate Milk (available at Whole Foods Market), whose creamy texture borders on milkshake-level consistency. For those who don’t mind the caloric toll of drinking the liquid equivalent of a three musketeers bar, Broguiere’s is absolute divinity (it was also recently endorsed by Charlie Sheen on Twitter). It’s not exactly cheap at $6 a quart (including a $1.50 deposit for the glass bottle), but one enlightening drink will remind you why it’s probably a good idea to ween kids off the stuff in the first place.
And we realize that for the lactose-intolerant this list may seem like unprovoked torture. For those who prefer non-dairy, we recommend the house-made soy milk at Taiwanese café, Huge Tree Pastry (423 N. Atlantic Blvd., Ste 106, Monterey Park; 626-458-8689). It’s served either sweet or salty and is far superior to the stuff you’ll find in those square boxes, especially when paired with a fresh baked cruller. If your into the whole raw diet thing, try the Mylkman (available online), a company that will deliver oversized mason jars of their unprocessed almond milk sweetened with coconut water to your doorstep. It has a peculiar tang that regular milk drinkers may find strange, but after a few sips we found ourselves oddly addicted. Though we’d imagine that schoolchildren might be a bit more skeptical.