A few weekends ago we ventured up to the city to scope out the art scene, partake in some glorious dim-sum and experience Sam's Sundae at Bi-Rite Creamery. This legendary ice cream creation has been described as "perfection", "heavenly" and with the explicit sensual characterization typically reserved for lusty romance novels. The Bi-Rite Creamery menu describes Sam's Sundae thusly: "Chocolate ice cream with bergamot olive oil, maldon sea salt and whipped cream." Unusual; even a bit bizarre! Olive oil on ice cream? I'm an adventurous eater, but must admit, I was a bit wary of how it would play out on the palette
We arrived on 18th Street at around 4:30 p.m. The streets were flooded with the uber-hip college crowd; sun was shining and a guy with a massive boombox affixed to his bicycle wound his way around the crowds blaring Journey's "Don't Stop Believing." We found a place in the line that extended all the way down the block. No matter, this was a people-watching-palooza ~ the highlight of which was a tall and elegantly slender African American man in a sparkling turquoise micro-mini, blind-folded by a gold mesh scarf, and accompanied by an entourage nearly as colorful as he. The line moved quickly, and before we could fully ponder the ethos behind the mesh blindfold procession, we were at the counter.
The sundae arrived in a plain paper bowl that belied its sophisticated contents. Sam's seduction played out like this: exquisitely creamy, deep and rich chocolate ice cream...a delicate, melt-in-your mouth salt-on-sweet nuance from the Maldon sea salt...an incredible aromatic backnote of fruity, orange bergamot dancing harmoniously with the chocolately topnotes...the soft, lightly sweet simplicity you can only get from freshly whipped cream...perfect balance...utter delight ... art... BLISS (cue angelic chorus)!
You may be tempted on your first trip by some of their other artistic fusions like Salted Caramel, Honey Lavender, Ricanelas (cinnamon with snickerdoodles), Roasted Banana, Balsamic Strawberry, Brown Butter Pecan, Malted Vanilla with Peanut Brittle and Milk Chocolate Pieces, & Brown Sugar with Ginger Caramel Swirl. But be advised, Sam's Sundae is gastronimic ecstacy. The others can wait.
While on 18th street, you may want to visit the Bi-rite Market across the street. Located in the city's historic Mission District, Bi-Rite Market has been San Francisco's premier neighborhood market since 1940. What makes them different is their "old-school" service you can't get at chain stores. Their shelves boast a huge array of organic, sustainable, and locally-produced items; making it easy for you to know where your food comes from.