I love 'em all for different reasons.
But Smitten Ice Cream holds a special place in my heart. I think I was spoiled living in Hayes Valley, with the shop in the little red container a dangerous three blocks from my front doorstep, and surely I took it for granted as time went on and I became more of a regular than I'm proud of. The flavors were always delicious and seasonal, and the texture was inconceivably velvety - a quality unrivaled by any other in the city. But really: how hard is it to dump out some liquid nitrogen into a base and mix?
As it turns out, much harder than you may realize.
There is a lot more that goes into the seemingly simple process, as was explained to me by Robyn Sue Fisher, owner and founder of Smitten, who filled me in on some of the finer points during our, "Ice Cream for Breakfast" event.
Despite so few ingredients, the taste is consistently bold, powerful and complex. For every flavor, the nuances and depth are achieved because of the attention to quality of the components and control of proportions. Fruit, for example, has much more water than flavors like their fresh mint chip (infused with real, honest-to-goodness mint leaves), and as such they must adjust to allow for as much fruit as they want by altering other aspects. By not being tied down to any specific quantities, each ice cream might have a different butterfat content to maximize flavor and maintain that ultra-smooth texture every single time.
In addition to receiving an education on just some of the science behind Smitten's magic, two more exciting pieces of news were bestowed upon me. First, seemingly eons away from her first Brrr machine, hand-welded and set atop her little red Radio Flyer wagon rolling through the streets of SF, Fisher will be opening two more locations in Rockridge and Los Altos, each with a full kitchen equipped to handle the second surprise: brioche ice cream sandwiches*.
Enter brioche: a logical answer to the issue at hand. The fluffy, sweet brioche envelops the star of the show, cradling it on all sides so that any excess is blocked from exiting, and any runoff simply soaks into the dough before dripping down your arms.
Sadly for San Franciscans, the brioche ice cream sandwiches will only be available at the two new locations, but are absolutely worth the drive. And never fear about the expansion. Smitten doesn't plan on changing anything about their ice cream: four flavors a day will stay the standard with the same passion for local, organic ingredients.
Just one more reason why I'm consistently smitten by Smitten.
*Disclaimer - The wonderful women of Smitten included a candle for my birthday. You may or may not receive one with your order. But do it anyway,