Wednesday, January 18, 2012

California 17, or, Culinary Investigation One of Three

Your intrepid correspondents endeavored to maximize our time in the culinary paradise that is California, before spending a year in the culinary wasteland that is Washington, DC (improving, so maybe now only a mediocrity rather than a true wasteland, but still). The first of these efforts -- undertaken, of course, in the name of Science -- was San Francisco Ice Cream Day.

As with any place where the young and hip and employed gather, there are all variety of artisanal and farm-to-table and homemade and crafty and unique foods in San Francisco. Case in point: Blue Bottle Coffee which is way over-hyped and people wait in ridiculous lines for it, but it is perhaps, it turns out, actually worth it. Iced creams are no exception. There are far more high-falutin' ice creameries in The City than we could have hoped to try in a day. So we settled on three.

The first stop was Xanath in the Mission, which features all-organic ice cream in fancy flavors, such as saffron, as seen above. There were a bunch of other places that should have been the second stop, but we accidentally walked by Zeitgeist and had no choice but to stop for a while and have some beer in the sun.

When we eventually got back on course, the second stop was Smitten, on Patricia's Green park on Octavia in Hayes Valley, by some truly horrible public art, which we gather -- nay, hope! -- may be temporary. Anyway, Smitten's gimmick is that they actually make the ice cream as you order it, in an impressive cloud of liquid nitrogen.

After we were (if I recall) tempted to stop at another bar for some wine around cocktail hour, time for additional stops was slipping away. I don't really know how many ice creams your correspondents would have been up for, but our dedication to sugar is no match for our dedication to alcohol. Three full servings of ice cream would have to do.

So our final stop was Mitchell's, down in Noe Valley. (All photos from Mitchell's involved one of the taste-testers in an unflattering pose while eating ice cream, so they will remain unpublished.) In contrast to the fully-organic or made-on-the-spot varieties we tried earlier, Mitchell's gimmick is that they have been making kick-ass ice cream for 50 years and change. And the winner, by acclimation, was Mitchell's in a landslide. Maybe they could just add some clouds of liquid nitrogen for effect, and there would be no reason to go anywhere else.


Anonymous said...

Next time we are in SF together let's go to Mitchell's! It looks kind of hard to find so you will have to be our guide...
Growing up in Berkeley we had ice cream places similar: Ortman's and McCallum's; both on Solano, both gone now. Sigh...

Anonymous said...

Ahh, McCallum's: the first place I ever had a non-vanilla/chocolate/strawberry flavor of ice cream (mint chip; it was delish). I was ~3-4 years old and astonished that there even *were* other flavors!
Aunt Pat