Thursday, April 30, 2009

Humphry Slocombe, San Francisco CA

After an unfortunate miss on Dynamo Donuts but a lucky find on La Panaderia I next made my way to Humphry Slocombe in the Mission – significantly praised by ChowHounds and Yelpers alike I felt it my duty to experience Slocombe and compare it to some of the offerings in Columbus Ohio, a place many call “the ice cream capital of the world.” Walking up to the small shop there were notably three young ladies standing outside enjoying small cones – and a small dog enjoying one as well. I asked what the dog liked and the one girl said “the olive oil – its good for his coat.” -- yes, she said that, I couldn’t make something so insipid up.

Walking into the small shop I was struck by the relatively drab appearance – no flourishes, just a bar, a white board, and 12 types of ice cream – excellent. A smiling staff of two offered me a taste (on cool metal spoons no less) and I gladly endulged – first on Balsamic caramel (best. Ice cream. Ever.), then Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee (not as good as Jeni’s Black Coffee, but good) , then Andante chevre-strawberry jam (Good, but Jeni’s fig and goat cheese is better,) and finally McEvoy olive oil (Better than Batali’s – I could feel my coat getting stronger immediately.)

Having heard rumor of the Secret Breakfast from any number of sources I took a taste and immediately ordered a scoop in addition to a scoop of the balsamic caramel – no cone, just a cup – awesome. Sitting down at the long bar I dug in and slowly enjoyed the wonderful caramel peaks with the heavy nuance of a quality balsamic underneath. While Jeni’s back home makes a superb Salty Caramel, this simply raises the bar a couple notches. In addition to the flavor, what struck me most was the incredible creaminess of the ice cream – almost a velvety texture on the tongue that didn’t even seem ‘cold’ because it was so smooth.

My second flavor, the Secret Breakfast, was not only cleverly named – but incredibly well flavored. Consisting of candied cornflakes with bourbon-flavored ice cream it reminded me of the standard “butter pecan” except without pecans and with a substantial “kick.” While others have not mentioned it, I distinctly caught the flavor, texture, and appearance of raisin in the scoop which makes me wonder if this was indeed a candied raisin-bran as opposed to corn flakes. Once again, the ice cream was like velvet and absolutely superb.

While I wish some of the more exotic flavors (Foie Gras, Government Cheese, etc) had been available and that they’d taken Credit Cards (see, again, the retarded $fine$ for not having cash on the way to Napa) I must say what I tasted was excellent and in the realm of designer ice cream I’d rank them on-par or better than our famous Jeni’s at home – I’d come back for Balsamic Caramel in a heartbeat and next time aim to get the Blue Bottle and mix it with Valrhona fudgesicle. Great service and good for your pets, too!

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