Last year we had cupcakes. Way way too many cupcakes for my waistline. So what hot trend comes just in time for the summer of aught-nine? Carrot sticks? Brussel Sprouts? No, it's fatty-ass, fatty-fat-fat ice cream. And I'm psyched. Here's a run down on the hotspots for getting creamed-up this summer. BiRite Creamery - Who would have thunk that this is already the old-hat in the new trend of scoop shops in the city? BiRite has developed a cult following and is the perfect pairing with a day at Dolores Park topped off with Pizzeria Delfina (my son's favorite playdate). Standout flavors are Roasted Banana (in fact, get a roasted banana pie with graham crust and meringue topping for your next party - oh oh oh). Salted Caramel, Balsamic Strawberry and Honey Lavender are also some favorites. You really can't go wrong with anything here.
Humphry Slocombe - With decidedly more attitude, sass and panache, HS opened a few months ago down the street from me. Their Salt & Pepper is nucking futs! Other standouts are the Secret Breakfast (with Bourbon and Cornflakes), Olive Oil, Blue-Bottle Vietnamese Coffee. They take things to a new level (Government Cheese? Pistachio Bacon!). Aside from ice cream you can also grab things like Bacon Peanut Brittle and Shortbread Cookies made with Lardo. I give HS the nod for coolest kid on the block. Follow Jake's twitter feed @humphryslocombe to keep up with flavors.
Xanath - Brand spanking new in the Mission, with some straightforward flavors, centered around the vanilla bean (they import vanilla and saffron as another business). Mixed reviews on yelp so far and I haven't bean (get it, bean, like vanilla). Don't see a web site. Missionites like dem some ice cream, eh? Mitchells ain't the only game in town.
Ici - The East Bay is not exempt from the trends. Ici is a project by yet another Chez Panisse disciple. Alice breeds them, doesn't she? Ice cream is good, with some innovative flavors, but not over the top. What I really love is their homemade cones. They're like crispy pancakes with a dollop of chocolate at the bottom to prevent dripping. Check them out at the Berkeley Farmer's Market in addition to their scoop shop.
Tara's Organic - There's a battle brewing in them thar hills! If you check out the Yelp! pages for Tara's, it seems that there ain't room enough for two organic queens of Berkeley. Tara's was established in 2005 by Tara Esperanza in Santa Fe, NM. In August of 2008 Tara's moved to Berkeley (naturally). She's got a boatload of creative ingredient (Pink Peppercorn, Stout with Fudge, Plum Ginger to name a few) and has every organic certification under the sun!
Three Twins - This Height Store is a branch of a Marin and Napa mini-chain. They offer very straightforward flavors and appear to be seeking to dethrone Ben & Jerrys for the gen-next Ice Cream empire.
With this bounty of new places, the one company that is really raking in the $$$ is Straus dairy. As I've recently learned, almost all of these places use the Straus base to avoid complications in pasteurization. Good for you Straus!
Look out for a new scoop shop in your neighborhood soon. Maybe it'll be in that old cupcake shop from last year.