Ice Cream at Bi-RiteI 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.
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 FlavorsI 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-RiteWe 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.”
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.
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:
Who am I kidding. This is what Pavel and I saw:
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.
3692 18th St (at Dolores)
San Francisco, CA