It’s been a long, long time since my last post. Many apologies! I’ve been moving around for almost 2 months, and while that hasn’t stopped my quest to sample great ice cream everywhere, I’ve had difficulty finding time to keep this blog updated. This post has been in the queue for almost a month now, and there are more in the pipeline.
I lived in the Bay Area for almost 8 years, but just happened to leave a year before this artisanal ice cream shop opened in San Francisco at the end of 2006. Bi-Rite Creamery makes their ice cream using locally sourced and organic ingredients – the milk, cream and eggs come from Straus Family Creamery, the honey and lavender are gathered just a mile away, the coffee comes from local roasters, and the grapes are harvested from their own farm. They even make some of the ingredients in-house, like marshmallows and chocolate covered-almonds. Thank goodness I have friends and family on the West coast who give me reason to visit every now and then, because I’m pretty sure Bi-Rite will now become a mandatory stop when I’m in the area.
My friend’s sister introduced me to the world of Bi-Rite last year with the gift of a Balsamic Strawberry ice cream sandwich and a pint of Salted Caramel ice cream. They were some of the most sublime ice cream flavors I’d tasted. Strawberries? With balsamic vinegar? Who would think of such a thing? Well, now, many shops probably think of such things, but I’ll always fondly remember Bi-Rite as the first for me.
Finding myself in CA again recently, Bi-Rite was one of the top “must-go” places on my list. I wanted to experience all its glory in person (and sample all of the flavors, of course).
I ended up visiting the creamery no less than 3 times during the course of my stay. The first time, unfortunately, I was already so full from Pal’s Takeaway sandwiches and dessert at Tartine, I knew I wouldn’t be able to enjoy an ice cream cone as I should. Instead, I just went in, admired the menu, the ice cream counter, and the freezer full of pints ready to take home. I left, but then, I couldn’t resist and went back in to try one of their popsicles. My reasoning was that popsicles are like frozen drinks on a stick. It was hot, I was thirsty, so why not?
I got the Meyer Lemon popsicle, and my reaction was, ehhh. It was no balsamic strawberry ice cream. And it was super tart. If you really want a lemony frozen treat, this one is for you. But I think I’ll stick with the ice cream.
The second time, I visited with my family, and I was determined to try as many flavors as I could. Luckily, I was served by the most amazing ice cream scooper I’ve ever encountered. Seriously. If you’re out there reading this, Friendly Bi-Rite Ice Cream Scooper with Many Piercings Who Let Me Sample About 8 or More Flavors, you are the best. I was cautious with my samples, starting with Earl Grey and Ginger. But then she suggested Honey Lavender, and Toasted Coconut, and Brown Butter, and here, try the Watermelon Sorbet, and the Roasted Banana and Ricanelas, too! One silver spoon after another, I could hardly keep up! But I loved it! It’s an experience I wish I could have at every ice cream shop I visit.
(By the way, every ice cream shop I went to in California used real spoons for samples. That is amazing. I wonder when that trend will take off in New York. Lula’s Sweet Apothecary, pave the way!)
There are so many amazing flavors, but I think my number one favorite is Roasted Banana. I just love banana ice cream, especially when it tastes like real bananas. And I can eat a lot of it. The salted caramel is also incredible (I’m a fan of sweet-salty combos), but I have a feeling that I would eventually hit a wall eating it. Another surprisingly good flavor was the watermelon sorbet. It had a nice creamy texture and tasted like fresh watermelons. I also like the Balsamic Strawberry, but it didn’t have as much of a “tang” as I had remembered the first time.
During my third visit, my sister and I just grabbed a pint of Salted Caramel to take home… It was one last hurrah before my return to the East Coast. If I could, I would have shoved about a dozen pints in my suitcase to bring home.
There are some very tasty-sounding concoctions on the menu. Someone next to us ate a brownie sundae, which looked incredible. And Sam’s Sundae sounds ridiculously good – chocolate ice cream with olive oil and sea salt? I’ll put that on my “to-try” list…