Sat, 01 Jul 2017 19:17:00
The scoop on summer ice cream — a Neighborhood News feature. Photo by Laurie MacDougall.
Ice cream has been around for hundreds of years, but in recent years the famous Bay Area creativity and entrepreneurship has turned to rethinking this old favorite. Ice cream is currently available in wild new forms and an explosion of exotic flavors. This delicious trend expresses itself in different ways in each neighborhood covered by The Western Edition. Each features its own enterprising approach to summer’s favorite taste treat, but why choose? Check them all out!
Bi-Rite Creamery, 550 Divisadero St.
The Bi-Rite Market in Alamo Square features its own ice cream, handcrafted in small batches right here in San Francisco, and sold by the scoop, as well as frozen to take home. Bi-Rite was the first ice cream shop in San Francisco to use Straus Family Creamery organic dairy, and their flavors rarely have more than five ingredients, most of which are organic and locally-sourced.
But the big news is that the variety and ingenuity of the flavors are to die for, and the menu changes daily — that’s how fresh it is. The biggest seller is Salted Caramel, but be sure to ask for a taste of things such as Balsamic Strawberry, or Cream Cheese Carrot Cake, or Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter with Fudge and Chocolate Peanut Candies, if they’re on offer the day you’re there. The scoop shop is inside the Bi-Right Market, open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Bayview Hunters Point
Ben and Jerry’s Catering, 415.263.7233
Remember the old-fashioned ice cream truck? Here’s a sleek, updated version, an ice cream truck that features every Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor under the sun. It is almost as if ice cream and food trucks had a baby, and now ice cream comes to you again. This is a tasty idea to add fun to a birthday party, picnic, family reunion, wedding, or corporate event. Trust Bayview to come up with a new twist on an old favorite.
Ben and Jerry’s has always been known for its unusual flavors and amusing names. Cherry Garcia is still the most requested flavor in the Bay Area, but Totally Baked is creeping up on it in popularity. Have you tried Truffle Kerfuffle? Or the newest flavor, Bob Marley’s One Love — packed full of fudge peace signs? This is your chance, and your guests will thank you.
Miyako Old Fashion Ice Cream, 1470 Fillmore
Miyako’s claim to fame is that it serves up an astonishing 100+ flavors. You read that correctly — 100+! And this is all the more astounding when you enter and find a snug little mom-and-pop ice cream parlor that measures 500 square feet, total. The variety makes it very hard to decide among the selection of classics and obscure flavors from high-end brands offered by other local ice creameries. Best-selling flavors are local favorites, caramel praline and peanut butter chocolate.
Customer service is the other reason to seek out this tiny neighborhood gem. Come in and say “hi” to the owner, Mr. Bennett, who has been personally serving up ice cream to generations in the Fillmore community for over 25 years.Open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.
Smitten Ice Cream, 432 Octavia
Smitten is located in a converted shipping container on Patricia’s Green, smack in the middle of Hayes Valley, and makes ice cream so creamy and smooth it makes grown men weep with joy. It’s churned to order, just for you, on the spot, using patented churns powered by liquid nitrogen.
Liquid nitrogen is the secret to the texture. The freezing at lower temperatures [-321 degrees F] creates infinitesimally small ice crystals resulting in unparalleled creaminess, and because it’s custom-made before your eyes, there is no need for stabilizers or additives to prolong its shelf life. It is pure, unadulterated, old-timey ice cream. The best-selling flavor, by far, is Tcho 60.5% Chocolate. However, you might also like Honey Thyme, or Earl Grey with Milk Chocolate Chips. Hours are noon to 10 p.m., every day except weekends, when Smitten closes at 11 p.m.
Uji Time, Japantown’s Peace Plaza East
Uji Time has a unique idea: to adapt a traditional Japanese desert called taiyaki and take it to another level. The fish-shaped ice cream cones are irresistible, particularly when stuffed to the gills with unique flavors of soft serve ice cream, such as best-seller Black Sesame, or Matcha. The taiyaki cone is similar to a waffle cone, but not as sweet, and it does not crumble when you’re eating your ice cream.
If the cute taiyaki cone is not for you, Uji Time also serves a wide variety of mochi ice cream, which is ice cream-filled mochi balls. Among the dozens of unusual flavors, you’ll find Raspberry with White Chocolate Chips, Lychee Colada, or Ginger Zing. Hours are 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Powder Shaved Snow, 260 Divisadero St.
Powder Shaved Snow is just two blocks south of the official demarcation line of NoPa, but definitely within the boundaries of the Western Addition. So, not exactly NoPa, but close enough, if you love unusual ice cream concoctions. Powder Shaved Snow is a petite sweet shop — even more petite than Miyako — serving Taiwanese shaved ice with organic ingredients and creative toppings.
Powder Shaved Snow flavors are curated from around the world — for example, Black Sesame or Horchata — frozen into flavor-backed ice blocks, then shaved-to-order into light fluffy ribbons of creamy goodness. The delicious ribbons can then be topped with a wide variety of unusual candies, even cereal. Black Sesame is a huge favorite, but two new flavors, Cereal Snow and Killer Cereal Snow, are creeping up in popularity. Hours are noon to 10 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.