Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

Humphry Slocombe

Humphry Slocombe Sign

Humphry Slocombe Sign

I first heard of Humphry Slocombe when its proscuitto ice cream was highlighted in the “Totally Unexpected” episode of Food Network’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate”, and since then I’d been dying to make a trip to San Francisco to try it. Some people might have been turned off by the sight of a big pan of pork in the middle of an ice cream shop about to be turned into a sweet frozen dessert, but my reaction was, “Must. Try. This. Now!”

Humphry Slocombe Storefront

Humphry Slocombe Storefront

Fast forward several months, and I found myself back in the Bay Area, with a visit to Humphry Slocombe penciled into my schedule. Unfortunately, the day my friends and I went, they were not offering the proscuitto ice cream. I fear this flavor may forever elude us, as another friend had visited a few weeks earlier and reported that it was not being offered that day either. It’s like the so-called red velvet ice cream at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory in New York City. In the TV episode it did look like the owner was making the proscuitto ice cream on special order for another eating establishment that provided the proscuitto, so maybe it’s just not being made anymore… and it’s not on their online menu. What a shame that would be.

Humphry Slocombe's Andy Warholesque Posters

Humphry Slocombe's Andy Warholesque Posters

Even without the proscuitto ice cream, Humphry Slocombe has no shortage of odd and unique palate-twisting flavors on its menu. Their pride in their unconventional take on ice cream is prominently displayed in some Andy Warhol-esque artwork hanging on the wall as you enter the shop. You think that “Salt and Pepper” and “Hibiscus Beet” flavors are out there? Well, how about “Fetal Kitten” ice cream? If it wasn’t so politically incorrect and so completely unappetizing, I feel like they would actually take on the challenge.

Humphry Slocombe Flavor Menu

Flavor Menu

So, how do these quirky flavors actually taste, then? Sure, they can obviously make ice cream out of anything, but does it taste good?

Luckily, I was able to sample plenty of flavors, perhaps to the dismay of the growing line of customers behind me.
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Thursday, July 15th, 2010

Bi-Rite Creamery

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.

Bi-Rite Creamery Soft Serve Window

Bi-Rite Creamery Soft Serve Window

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.

Bi-Rite Creamery Meyer Lemon Popsicle

Bi-Rite Creamery Meyer Lemon Popsicle

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.
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Sunday, May 16th, 2010

Cones Ice Cream Artisans

This popular West Village gelateria was started by two brothers from Buenos Aires more than 10 years ago, and to this day you can still find long lines stretching out the door on hot and humid summer days. If you like standing in line, this is the place for you. Or maybe the photo of Heidi Klum posted in the front window, eating Cones gelato, will draw you in.

Cones Ice Cream Artisans Storefront

Cones Ice Cream Artisans Storefront

The Argentinian gelato is made fresh by hand and the shop boasts about two dozen flavors, from lemon to hazelnut to corn (yes, corn!) to yerba maté (South American tea). They even have ones with liquor – there’s one flavor you have to pay $1 to taste – I believe it’s Johnny Walker Black Label.

Ice Cream Counter at Cones

Ice Cream Counter at Cones

During my first visit I had the mint chocolate chip, which was a solid version of the common flavor – the texture is pretty light. The second time around, I went for the blueberry sorbet (sorry, no camera), and I would DEFINITELY recommend this. It was bursting with blueberry flavor – very fresh and fruity and refreshing.

More Ice Cream at Cones

More Ice Cream at Cones

The two things that turned me off were the expensive prices and the not-so-friendly service. Plus they have a two-taste limit. I actually don’t think I ever tasted anything – I just ordered because the owner didn’t look like he really wanted to be bothered with samples. I can understand the taste limit – after all, they make everything by hand – but I really don’t like rude service. No matter how good a place is, I don’t want to be yelled at when I’m trying to enjoy what I’m eating.

Mint Chocolate Chip Gelato at Cones in NYC

Mint Chocolate Chip Gelato at Cones in NYC

In any case, I would recommend it at least once, but it’s not a place I’d visit regularly. Whatever you do, try one of the sorbets!

Cones Artisanal Ice Cream - Made By Hand

Cones Artisanal Ice Cream - Made By Hand

Here’s the rundown:
Cones Ice Cream Artisansthree_cones
272 Bleecker Street (between Jones St & Morton St)
New York, NY 10014
(212) 414-1795
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Hours: Sun-Thu: 1pm-11pm; Fri-Sat: 1pm-1am

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Lula’s Sweet Apothecary

I finally made it to “New York’s first vegan and dairy-free frozen dessert shop” a few weeks ago, and boy, was it worth the wait. Even though it’s currently being renovated and we were only able to order the soft serve from the front window, both the cake batter and strawberry flavors are so delicious you won’t even think about the limitation of choices.

Soft Serve Menu

Soft Serve Menu

The staff was super-friendly and quickly offered us samples of the flavors, on REAL silverware! I thought that was awesome – how many little mini plastic spoons are wasted each day for ice cream samples? I read lots of rave reviews for the cake batter, which certainly lived up to the hype, but I was in love with the strawberry – it was rich, creamy, and had the authentic sweet tartness of real strawberries. You certainly won’t miss the cream or milk in these frozen desserts (especially those of you who are lactose intolerant!) If gluten-free is always this tasty, sign me up!

Cashew-based Gluten-free Strawberry Soft Serve

Cashew-based Gluten-free Strawberry Soft Serve

I can’t wait to return when they re-open – peanut butter fudge, I have my eye on you!

**If you have allergies to nuts – be aware that some of the flavors are cashew-based. The others are soy and coconut-milk based, so you still have plenty of options.

Soft Serve Twist - Strawberry and Cake Batter

Soft Serve Twist - Strawberry and Cake Batter

Here’s the rundown:
Lula’s Sweet Apothecaryfour_cones
516 East 6th Street
New York, NY 10009
(646) 912-4549
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Hours: Sun, Tues, Wed – 3:00PM to 10:00PM; Thurs, Fri, Sat – 3:00PM to 11:30PM