Ice Cream: Post your favorite venues here

Ice Cream: Post your favorite venues here

Postby Jon » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:50 am

(reprint of UPDATE from 7/21/09):

Last summer, on a hot and steamy afternoon, I walked hand in hand with my two year old daughter down a narrow street in Paris that is also home to one of the best gelateria shops in Europe. There is nothing like the anticipation of the first lick of ice cream that can motivate a child where all else fails. At two, she already knows this street and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow that awaits (scary) – the purest vanilla ice cream I’ve ever tasted that coats the mouth in what seems like cold puree of vanilla bean. There are few foods that have the ability to evoke memories of childhood and family history the way ice cream does. It almost always brings to mind something positive, something wonderful for child or adult and that is unique among foodstuffs (maybe smores come close but few others have this ability). Ice cream can also be polarizing – we all have our favorites, traditional or experimental and we defend their greatness to the end. Frozen yoghurt is another animal entirely. At the risk of causing a minor uproar the way New York Magazine’s current pizza review has (Keste #1? I don’t think so), as of July 21st, 2009 the best ice cream and gelato in the United States can be had at the following locations:

Grom, New York: Grom causes much ire – you either think it’s the best thing ever to grace your palate or you can’t stand its pretentious, expensive demeanor. Whatever camp you fall into, you can’t deny the actual gelato itself. Two locations in Manhattan dish out their signature organic and small farm ice cream in a pharmaceutical setting that is similar to Rome’s San Crispino, which is also worth a detour if you are in Italy. In one of the most obnoxious ice-cream related shows of snobbery, Grom does not allow you to see the ice cream before purchase (a precious summer right of passage for anyone, young or old, is gazing at the colors and flavors behind the counter before making that fateful and often difficult decision – not so at Grom – only a stark row of stainless steel bins will greet your eyes and no ice cream can actually be seen). Despite all of this, Grom is #1 and one bite of their painfully pure organic lemon or raspberry will make you a beleiver (not to mention their black as night Cru Savage Chocolate from Bolivia or Crema di Grom with meliga biscuits ground into the cneter). All of this artisanal fussyness does not come cheaply and you will pay dearly for the experience. If money is no object, this is the crème-de-la-crème of Italian gelato shops in the US but be warned – Grom is addictive.

Humphrey's Slocombe, San Francisco: I have to thank long-term email list member Christopher Elmendorf for this one. He pointed me in this direction and it was definitely worth the journey. Located in the new, outer reaches of the Mission at 24th and Harrison, no tourists would dare make their way to Slocombe and that's just what they want. This is the cutting edge of ice cream in the US (Bi-Rite Creamery is a close second in SF but it is ultimately not as good) - bizarre flavors like “Vietnamese Coffee and Lemongrass” and “Rum and Coke” are served by ultra-slackers that can barely lift the scoop they are so hung over from the preceding evening's flirtation with an altered state. There is attitude beyond reason here, the kind that makes you want to lift these people up by the shirt collar and tell them to “get a job” but wait....they do have a job and that’s the entire point. Their “job” is creating and serving what amounts to the finest non-gelato style ice cream in the United States with a texture so fabulous, it is worth the trip to San Francisco alone. Thankfully, the hipsters at Humphrey's Slocombe decided to spend their time making ice cream and not writing code for another doomed web site on vintage clothing. Slackers that actually make a living? It's the new breed ladies and gentleman and, in San Francisco, the youth culture is currently running the city as it has for the last four decades. There’s a lesson here somewhere.

What are your favorite venues for Ice cream?

Here’s to the simple things in life like a single scoop on a sugar cone, even if the flavor of modern life has caused my beloved vanilla ice cream to become far more complex than I ever imagined as a two year old.

Thank goodness for that.

- Jon Rimmerman
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Re: Ice Cream: Post your favorite venues here

Postby rmmason » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:05 pm

Our favorite is Berthillon in Paris. Main shop is on Ile St Louis, but you can find it around town. Special favorite is marron (chestnut), which seems to be available primarily around Christmas.
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Re: Ice Cream: Post your favorite venues here

Postby nomadfromcincy » Tue Jul 21, 2009 1:04 pm

I haven't been to the two ice cream shops that Jon mentions. I like "gourmet" ice cream, i.e. the fancy flavors and ingredients. However, I still assert that Graeter's ice cream (Cincinnati, OH) is the best I have experienced, especially the chip flavors. In Seattle, I like Molly Moon but the lines are crazy. I don't think it is worth a special trip, but it's still delicious.
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Re: Ice Cream: Post your favorite venues here

Postby Peter » Tue Jul 21, 2009 5:08 pm

Ronnybrook Farm Dairy in the Chelsea Market, New York. They have other locations as well.
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Re: Ice Cream: Post your favorite venues here

Postby plc » Tue Jul 21, 2009 9:01 pm

The absolute best I've ever had was in Bologna, Italy at a place called la Sorbetteria. They had a flavor that I recall was with Pine Tar made from Pine Nuts and it was, well, nutty. In Minneapolis I always hit Sonny's Ice Cream. They make small batches with the best ingredients. Unbelievable pure flavors.
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Re: Ice Cream: Post your favorite venues here

Postby jseeds » Thu Jul 23, 2009 6:54 am

Good to see Graeter's get some respect. The chips/sheets of chocolate are wicked. I'll also put out my vote for Fortunado Brothers in my old 'hood - Williamsburg Brooklyn. Serious house-made gelato.
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Re: Ice Cream: Post your favorite venues here

Postby okwines » Thu Jul 23, 2009 2:08 pm

Curious to know the name of the Gelato store in Paris? Is it the one on rue Moufftard?

I think Grom is very overrated regardless of price. I love Berthillon too, especially the chestnut!, but it is not Gelato. I also have had some fantastic ice cream in Minneapolis. The best Ice Cream I have had in this country besides of restaurants has been at Jeni's in Columbus, OH ( I was working in Columbus for a week in 2003 shortly after they opened. I was lucky to find the North Market and Jeni's the day I arrived. Needless to say I sampled the ice cream daily, sometimes more than once. In addition to "normal" ice cream flavors, she was doing flavors like wild boar. I see it now all the time but then it was a first for me.

In NY I think Otto makes the best Gelato and you can get it go. My Strawberry, Pistachio and Sweet corn today was delicious. Alas Siracusa (4th Ave and 9th street) is no more, but they made fantastic Gelato. According to the guys at DiPalo the guy from Siracusa is making Gelato somewhere in Brooklyn.... There used to be fairly good Gelato in NY once upon a time......sigh

I was very disappointed in Slocombe (interesting flavors but over churned) and Bi-Rite (more pronounced flavor but also over churned), as i am with Sketch and Ici, all in the bay area. Oh well.

As good as all these places have been, there is nothing compared to what you get in Italy. Most people I know in Italy laugh at Grom. The Gelato I had last week in Bolzano (taken by Andreas Berger who makes killin Goldmuskateller and Sauvignon etc), Treiso (at a restaurant I was taken to by Renato Vacca), and Lago d'Orta (taken by Christophe Kunzli, who by the way is making smokin DOC Boca wines) were heads and tails above any Gelato I have had in the US.
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Re: Ice Cream: Post your favorite venues here

Postby cksea » Tue Oct 06, 2009 8:30 pm

Yes, Graeter's french pot ice cream in Cincinnati, OH. The Graeter family still mixed the ice cream during my childhood. The ladies who dipped the scoops worked the parlors for decades. Even in blizzard conditions today, the Kenwood and Hyde Park Graeter's have a line at the counter. In the 60's, 70's and 80's the flavors were simple, pure concentrated dark chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, coffee, black walnut, ices, and fresh peach in summer. And then the chips - oh, the huge, dark, bittersweet chips. They prompt comments like, "will you look at that" about the ice cream in a cone. If you are not going through Cincy, Graeter's ships 6 or 12 pints to a box. It is not to be missed in this lifetime.
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Re: Ice Cream: Post your favorite venues here

Postby Jimmy Brown » Wed Apr 18, 2012 7:05 pm

Ok,I will have a try.

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