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Sweet Tooth Ice Cream - Ice Cream and Pastries in Sterling Park - Soured.

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There's never really been much in Sterling Park to comment upon, but Sweet Tooth Ice Cream is definitely worth a mention. It opened back at the end of May, in a corner space of the Sterling Plaza shopping center, roughly between CVS and the Big Lots/former Safeway. The ice cream's good, and they offer some flavors you don't see everywhere - tamarindo, maracuya (passionfruit), lucama (which is apparently a Peruvian fruit), mango, papaya, cantaloupe, pineapple, and coconut, along with more usual flavors like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, and mint chocolate chip.

We haven't actually tried the pastries yet, but they look and smell great; there's homemade baklava along with a pan of interesting custardy stuff. The pastries are made by the owner's wife, and every time we've been in one or more of the kids have been behind the counter. They're awfully nice folks, and I'd like to see them do well (out of vested ice-cream-close-to-the-house self interest as well as wanting to support the local small businesses).

The shop is located at 410 S. Sterling Blvd. - it's not visible from the road, but there are a number of signs up at the entrance to the shopping center pointing the way.

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My girlfriend and I tried out Sweet Tooth Ice Cream in Sterling last night, and I have nothing but good things to say about this little mom-and-pop shop.

We had a late dinner, and I expected Sweet Tooth to be closed when we got there around 10:40 p.m. (Note that the location is not visible from the street. The store is in the back of Sterling Park Plaza, behind the Big Lots store, on Sterling Blvd.) The sign on the door indicated that the store closes at 10:30 p.m. on Fridays, but we saw all the lights on, a customer in the store, and a girl behind the counter. We paused momentarily as I remarked on the posted hours, but a gentleman sitting at one of the outside tables told us not to worry, that we could still get ice cream. (I recognize him now from this article as the owner, Nouhad Hamdan.) I was appreciative of this flexibility, particularly in light of a recent disappointment downtown.

As noted in the above post, one of Sweet Tooth’s strengths is its diversity of uncommon flavors. Despite the Lebanese origin of the family that owns the shop, the ice creams (all, according to a newspaper article, made in Sterling) reflect the increasingly Latin American palate of the Sterling Park area. Guava, tamarindo, horchata, papaya, mango, coconut, lucuma, guanabana, and other fruit-flavored ice creams populate the display freezers. There are other, more common, flavors, too: vanilla, coffee, strawberry, orange-cream sherbet, Oreo, dulce de leche (I know, dulce de leche is Latin American-influenced, but it has achieved American ubiquity), mint chocolate chip, chocolate, and other standbys.

I can vouch for the quality of a lot of these flavors, because the girl behind the counter (the owner’s daughter, Noora Hamdan, according to the article) was so enthusiastic about the ice creams that she offered us samples of a number of the flavors, almost unprompted. She was the most pleasant person I’ve dealt with behind a food-service counter that I can remember, and her attitude was a significant factor in how much we enjoyed our visit.

I cannot remember every flavor I tried, but I found the guanabana to have a sweet and pleasantly tart flavor and the lucuma to be akin to passion fruit.

The pastry array is impressive. As can be expected, there are multiple baklava-type pastries in different shapes and sizes. I brought one home with me that I have not yet tried. The treat is sweet cream-filled, wrapped in phyllo dough, sprinkled with crushed pistachios, and drizzled with rose water syrup. My girlfriend got the last cream puff in the shop, based on the recommendation of another customer. I tried it, and found that the rich, not-overly-sweet filling had a texture somewhere between custard and frosting. Ms. Hamdan was nice enough to pour some chocolate syrup on the cream puff at my girlfriend’s request. Other desserts include cookies and a caramel flan that I want to try to see how it stands up to my Peruvian mother’s version.

The shop offers all of the toppings one can expect in an ice cream store, but I ended up ordering two scoops with no extras. I enjoyed the dulce de leche, which was creamier and more flavorful than Haagen-Dazs’ (perfectly competent) version. The horchata, however, was nothing short of amazing. Horchata is a Mexican cinnamon rice milk drink that I see on menus with some frequency, but have never actually order. I will remedy that oversight in the future. The horchata ice cream, which is light brown and flecked with spice, was lush, smooth, and wonderfully cinnamon-flavored. I worked at Baskin-Robbins for years in high school, and if we would have had this flavor, I would have talked it up to customers like a traveling salesman.

If you are heading out to Loudoun for any reason, stop by Sterling Park to indulge your sweet tooth. You should probably stop en route to your destination, because you will want to stop again on the way back to bring some of Sweet Tooth’s desserts home.

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