Friday, January 18, 2013

We all scream…

… for the horror of the 32nd Flavour and beyond.


It is well known that Ice Cream is one of the Five Major Food Groups, along with Pizza, Beer, Coffee, Chocolate, and Potato Chips. To maintain a healthy diet, nutrition experts all agree that it is very important to get two full servings a day of each. As stated in an older post (see 'blog-entry from March 21st, 2010), Ice Cream can even be eaten for breakfast as it includes eggs (and keep reading, as there is even a bacon ice cream entry), milk, and sugar. Now just tell me that isn't breakfast!

Ice Cream has been made as a dessert as early as the 10th Century in the Arab world from frozen milk sweetened with sugar. Earlier (as far back as the Persian Empire), snow or ice had been used and sweetened with grape juice and then saffron
[1], fruits, and various other flavours. Ice Cream was first introduced to the United States by Quaker colonists who brought the recipe with them from Ye Olde Country. Ben Franklin, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson were known to have regularly eaten (and from the looks of him, Benny-boy probably more so than Georgie or Tommy) and served ice cream.

Ice Cream is known by many other names and incarnations around the World. Gelato[2] is Italian Ice Cream (not to be confused with Italian Ices) that is a softer version and has lower milk fat content than standard 'merican Ice Cream. Frozen Custard is Ice Cream that is made with at least 10% milk fat and at least 1.4% egg yolk. Kulfi is a frozen dairy dessert in India. Sherbet is a fruit flavoured dairy product which contains 1-2% milk fat and is sweeter than Ice Cream. And Frozen Yoghurt is a low-fat or fat-free alternative made with yoghurt instead of milk.

Here are some of my favourite local Ice Cream joints (in no particular order):

SmittenIce Cream  is highly original in that they make each and every order of ice cream fresh right in front of you in about 60 seconds. They have developed a really cool Ice Cream machine that looks like something straight out of a Science Fiction movie in the 50's, complete with liquid nitrogen as the freezing agent. They only offer four flavours daily. They always have Classic Vanilla and TCHO 60.5% Dark Chocolate. However, they offer two alternating flavours with what is seasonally available (and tasty); yesterday's two additional flavours were Salted Caramel and Meyer Lemon Gingersnap.

Humphry Slocombe has to be one of the more inventive Ice Cream parlours in San Francisco. They only offer twelve flavours daily, but have a list of always changing flavours that includes: Ancho Chocolate (yes, that's chilli peppers and chocolate); Boccalone Prosciutto (see, I told ya, bacon in Ice Cream); Candied Chestnut; Old Hebrew Ale; Peanut Butter Curry; Pink Grapepfruit
Tarragon; Salt and Pepper; and my favourite of the strangest, Secret Breakfast (which is made with Bourbon and corn flakes ~ don't ask, but it really works). They also make all the "normal" flavours, but I can get those anywhere.

Mitchell's Ice Cream is probably the granddaddy of all abby-normal Ice Cream places in San Francisco. They have been located in the Mission since 1953. They are known for their more exotic flavours like: Avocado; Cantaloupe (which is my favourite of theirs, but only available in the summer); Langka (jackfruit); Lucuma (a subtropical fruit grown in various regions of South America; it tastes similar to maple); Lychee; Mais y Queso (that is "Corn and Cheese" in Spanish); Mango; and Ube (a purple yam from the Philippines). They even have three to four different Ice Creams using coconut as the basis.

Bi-Rite Creamery is also located in the Mission District and they are known for their eclectic flavours, too, some of their signature flavours: Earl Grey; Orange Cardamom; Honey Lavender; Ricanelas (cinnamon with snickerdoodles); and Roas
ted Banana.

Joe's Ice Cream has been a fixture on Geary Boulevard in the Richmond since 1959. Now this is the closest on the list to your mom's Baskin-Robbins, but even they offer some alternative flavours: Ginger; Green Tea; Mango; Black Walnut; along with a monthly/seasonal flavour (this month it is Egg Nog).

Marco Polo Italian Ice Cream (which is actually owned by an Asian family from what I can tell) offers more of the exotic flavours of the Orient: Durian (not for the faint of heart; durian is an unbelievably stinky fruit; it smells worse than a rotten piece of Gorgonzola, but really isn't that bad; definitely an acquired taste); Lychee; Sesame; Jackfruit; Soursop; Taro; Red Bean; and my favourite of theirs, Guava.

(No official website. 1447 Taraval Street; phonicular contact: (415) 731-2833)

Polly Ann Ice Cream is another long time favourite in the Outer Sunset that has many exotic Asian flavours: Alligator Pear (that's "avocado" to you and me); Durian (see above for warning); Lychee; Sesame; Jasmine; Red Bean; and many others. What I like most about this place is that they usually have about 50 different flavours available at all times. If you can't decide which flavour of Ice Cream you want, you can always take a spin of their big carnival wheel that is behind the counter and see what fate has in store for you.

(No official website. 3138 Noriega Street; phonicular contact: (415) 664-2472)

Bombay Icecream (yes, they have "Ice Cream" as one word, Billy-boy, so deal with it) is an Indian (by that, I mean the Hindis, not the Native Americans; I am sure that no one wants Ice Cream made from bison milk and includes flavours like Acorn or Succotash) take on the Ice Cream World. However, their interesting flavours do include: Chai (Indian tea); Chiku (a tropical fruit); Fig; Kesar Pista (saffron/pistachio); Cardamom (my favourite of theirs); and Rose. They also offer a few different versions of Kulfi: Pistachio, Saffron, and Cardamom (that I can remember). 

Mr. & Mrs. Miscellaneous is one of the newest (and best) entries into the Ice Cream World of San Francisco, and, like Humphry Slocombe, is probably one of the more eclectic Ice Cream places in the city. They usually only offer 8-10 different flavours and keep alternating them with fun and fresh ideas. Ferinstance: Sloe Gin; Caramel with sea salt; Chicory Coffee; Bananas Foster; Ginger Cookie; Candied Violet; White Sesame; Earl Grey; Brown Butter; Salted Mango; and the not to be missed Ballpark (a mix of Anchor Steam Beer, roasted peanuts, and chocolate-covered pretzels; they are located straight down 3rd Street from AT&T Park, Home of your 2012 World Series Champions San Francisco Giants).

(No official website. 699 22nd Street; phonicular contact: (415) 970-0750)

The Ice Cream Bar is another new-ish entry in the Ice Cream foray (open for just about one year now); they are located over on Cole Street in Cole Valley/the Haight. They are set up like an old-fashioned apothecary of yore. All of their Ice Cream is made on-site daily, using local organic cream, milk, egg, and organic evaporated cane sugar. They normally will have between 12-15 flavours available, to include: Banana Puddin' (complete with vanilla wafer chunks and all); Basil; Sweet Corn; and Peanut Butter (they offer many more interesting flavours, but these were the ones that I have tried and could remember; however, for some reason, they don't list the selections on their website). The Ice Cream Bar not only has great Ice Cream, they have an authentic soda fountain (manned by actual "jerks") that they can make all kinds of old-fashioned phosphates, elixirs, frappes, milk shakes, and sodas.

Last but not least, here is a little Cliff Clavinism of the day:

Did you know that all three "normal" flavours of Ice Cream, Chocolate, Vanilla, and Strawberry (which is not really a berry, by the way), are all New World flavours?! This means that back in 1491 Neapolitan Ice Cream didn't exist.

Glen Bacon Scale Rating: (Sorry, there are just too many places and varieties to rate; let's just say that these all range from 7.0 to 8.5; well, except maybe for Durian, but that is up to you)

1. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer du jour,
numéro un:

"Saffron" comes from Old French "safran", from Medieval Latin "safranum", and ultimately from Arabic "za'faran" (of unknown origin, Ms. Burrows).

2. Stupid, useless cunning linguist pointer del giorno, numero due:

"Gelato" comes from the Italian noun use of the past participle of "gelare", meaning "to freeze" (see: gelatine).

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