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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Mission Ice Cream Crawl

July 22nd, 2007. Participants: Me, Punk, Hurricane, Chinatown.

Mitchell's Ice Cream
Sunday afternoon, line was about ten minutes. Had big scoops of each of macapuno and cantaloupe for $4.10. (Not on the menu, but if you're not that gluttonous, you can ask for two small scoops and it's slightly cheaper.) Quite creamy, though with a supermarket mouthfeel, which probably means it's too heavy on the emulsifiers. The macapuno, however, transcends any doubts: really nice coconut taste. (Same with the buko.) The cantaloupe isn't bad, but there are many better places around here for fruit ice creams. The one bad flavour I tasted was, of all things, vanilla. You have to come here at least once; along with It's-It, it's the classic SF ice cream, and unlike It's-It, it's good.

La Copa Loca
Had passionfruit and guabana (sp? aka soursop) gelato for a mere $2.75. Not very creamy but decent flavour. Not a destination like Milano, but generally better balanced than Naia, though lacking that one great flavour to put it over the top. Fruit flavours seem to be the strength here.

Mission intermission: Taqueria San Jose
You go here for the pork tacos and the pork tacos alone. Two of us had al pastor tacos; two of us had non-pork burritos. Two of us rated this among our best taqueria experiences; the other two thought it was appalling. Fortunately, I was one of the taco-eating pair. Incredibly crisp and oily pork off the vertical spit, cilantro, onions, zingy hot sauce, $2.40 each. If you're fat-phobic, kosher or veg, this isn't your place. If you prefer burritos, well, I won't laugh at you, at least not to your face. If you're me, you can't wait to go back. Still, docked a star for making my friends queasy.

Bi-Rite Creamery
The ginger, salted caramel, and lemon samples I tried were all Mel Gibson-crazy. Settled on the salted caramel and paired it with the more conventional roasted banana. The ice cream here laughs off the usual creaminess-flavour trade-off like no one besides Sketch in Berkeley. It's not quite as creamy as Mitchell's, but it has a better mouthfeel. The banana has a deep, deep taste, and the salted caramel, as you may recall, is Bai Ling-insane. This is shock flavouring, which is why I'm withholding the fifth star for the moment -- don't know if it'll stand up to repeat visits. But repeat visits are guaranteed.

Bombay Ice Cream
Two sample limit, boo. Tried cardamom and saffron; chose cardamom ($2.50). It was fine, but slightly disappointing. Decent creaminess, but the flavour seemed muted. Ici's cardamom is better, and that's hardly Ici's specialty. Bombay's cone was actually quite good, though, especially for something presumably made off-site.

Northern California Frozen Dessert Rankings:

Milano sorbetto
Sketch ice cream
Fairfax Scoop ice cream
Pizzaiolo gelato
Marianne's ice cream*
Bi-Rite ice cream
Chez Panisse Cafe ice cream
Ici ice cream
Milano gelato
Pizzeria Picco soft serve
Mitchell's ice cream*
Naia gelato*
Fairfax Scoop sorbet
La Copa Loca gelato
Sketch sorbetto
Three Twins farmers' market ice cream
Fentons ice cream (but for heaven's sake, don't order a salad)
Homemade granita
Bombay ice cream
Cafe Fanny ice cream
Ben & Jerry's ice cream
Breyer's supermarket ice cream
Naia sorbetto
Cold Stone ice cream
Haagen-Daas supermarket ice cream
It's-It ice cream sandwich
Standard supermarket ice cream

*need to choose the good flavours

Still to try: Downtown Bakery and Bovolo in Healdsburg, Rick's in San Jose, maybe Citizen Cake...

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