Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bi-Rite Creamery

Ice Cream at Bi-Rite
I had ice cream at Bi-Rite Creamery twice when I was in San Francisco last month (not bad since I didn’t even go the only full day I was in town!).  If I had been on my own—with no one to see me, no need to defend my actions—I would have visited Bi-Rite twice a day.
Bi Rite Ice Cream
Sorry about the blurry picture. I was excited.
Because it’s that good.  Bi-Rite’s ice cream is made with Straus organic milk, cream, and eggs.  Bi-Rites flavorings and ingredients are local and delicious: Ritual Roasters coffee and lavender from nearby Mint Hill (named after the U.S. Mint building, not shade-loving herbs for juleps) are just two examples.  And the people who work there are friendly (though, seriously, why would mean people sell ice cream?).
Bi-Rite Flavors
I think what makes them especially good, though, is balance.  Bi-Rite’s flavors, such as the salted caramel, orange cardamom, and brown sugar with ginger caramel swirl, achieve perfect balance.  Each flavor comes through, its presence necessary but never overpowering.  Like good friends at a party—each has plenty to say, but still listens to his friends.

The flavors.  Over our two visits we tried salted caramel, honey lavender, orange cardamom, brown butter pecan, brown sugar with ginger caramel, and malted vanilla with peanut brittle and milk chocolate pieces.  Don’t ask which was my favorite; I couldn’t say (it might be easier to pick a favorite child, and that’s impossible--especially in print).

[A Portland shop with the same pitch perfect palate is Alma Chocolates—their Rosewater Caramels, Thai Peanut Butter Cups, and Earl Grey Caramel sauce are just three examples]

Our second visit to Bi-Rite was late Friday afternoon.  Pavel and I were squeezing two scoops of ice cream in before dinner with his family (the shame!).  We managed to park just a block away (that should have been our first hint of trouble).  We got our ice cream, ate it lovingly, and stepped into the Bi-Rite Market for a bottle of wine to take to dinner.
Parking at Bi-Rite
We stepped out, and our car was gone.  Towed. I asked the parking guy where the sign was, and he looked up from his task (supervising another poor person’s car being towed), turned slightly, and pointed right above me.  “Right there, sweetheart.”

cropped parking
Not much I could say to that.  We grabbed a taxi and got to the car retrieval site right behind our car.  A woman sitting behind bullet-proof glass smiled and gave us our bill: $330 for the towing fee and ‘San Francisco Administrative Fee’.  When we got to the car it had a $70 fine stuck to the windshield.

And then we returned to the site of the crime, to take a photo.  How could we both have missed the sign?  Clearly it wasn’t visible.

obscured parking sign
The trees did block the sign somewhat.    But what San Francisco didn't think of was that while the trees might have obscured the sign, Bi-Rite Creamery blinded us.  Because while the above picture is about what it looked like (according to photos), what we saw was more like this:

ice cream parking copy
Who am I kidding.  This is what Pavel and I saw:

Parking at Bi-Rite
I felt bad that I didn’t get a better picture of Bi-Rite's ice cream.  We thought about getting one more scoop, just for the sake of you readers, but we were late for dinner.  And I didn’t want to push my parking luck.
The Moral of the Story
$406 is a lot of money for ice cream.  I would have balked at paying that for two dishes.  But am I sorry we stopped in at Bi-Rite? Not on your life.  I’d go back in a flash.  But maybe next time I’ll take a cab.

Bi-Rite Creamery

3692 18th St (at Dolores)
San Francisco, CA


Joanna M said...

Aww, jeez - you're killing me. Bi-Rite Creamery has been on my list for a couple of years, now. I just need to get myself to SF, already.

That is a huge drag about the tow and the ticket. So sorry.

I did, however, finally make it to Olympic Provisions yesterday. Pretty great place...and I know that meat is their main event, but I think my favorite thing was the grilled apple and walnut bread with a side of honey. Nice.

Giovanna said...

I still haven't made it to Olympic Provisions, but hope to very soon..

On the ice cream side, I did eat at Fifty Fifty, where I had a dish of Grape-nuts ice cream--it made me happy.

Grace said...

Oh man, your pictures literally cracked me up. Such a funny story! And thanks for the illustrations, they really made the story!

kairu said...

I almost snorted tea out my nose as I scrolled down and saw the photos. So funny! Yes, a hefty price to pay for ice cream. But having ice cream and a funny story? Priceless. Almost.

Also, I'm sad that when I was in San Francisco last fall I didn't have time to try all the ice cream I've been hearing about. Time for another trip!

Sarah Hart said...

Hey, thanks for the nice mention of Alma. I also nearly snorted tea out my nose at your funny pictures! I didn't go to the bi-rite last time I was in SF but I went to an icecream place in the mission that has an H in the name. What is it? Sounds like a grumpy old man name. But they had really good ice cream, including a bourbon and cornflake one "breakfast of champions" which was GOOD. I had a Thai coffee ice cream, too. Also really good.


Sarah Hart said...

Umm. I think I meant Vietnamese Iced Coffee?

Giovanna said...

Sarah, you must have been to Humphry Slocombe. Because of those ice cream cones blinding me, I completely forgot to go there--even with incentives like 'Secret Breakfast' (the bourbon and cornflake one), Boccalone Prosciutto (if it's anything like the prosciutto panna cotta I had at Incanto in SF, well, yum), and salted licorice (it's just intriguing).

I also forgot that I wanted to have a doughnut at Dynamo Donut. Sigh.

Next time I'll make myself some special blinders before I go--

Victor said...

That is one crazy story! Funny pictures. I live in the SF Bay Area and stopping in at BiRite is a must for when I get a chance to get to the city! I'll remember to check for parking signs next time too.

Giovanna said...

As I recall (though I wouldn't trust me if I were you!) you can't park on the ice cream side of the street between 4 and 6. But I'd double check if I were you!

As an aside, I was driving down SE Hawthorne here in Portland the other day, and passed the food cart pod where Potato Champion lives. I remembered the only other time I've come close to being towed--late one night, my husband and I were in line waiting for killer french fries when someone shouted 'they're towing cars'--that time we got lucky. Apparently we didn't learn our lesson!

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