Connie’s post on Ici’s opening earlier this month was so inspiring that we (Susan, Connie, and I–given that dear Melanie is out writing her heart out at Hedgebrook, and Eric as our “token Canadian” doesn’t live in the Bay Area) decided to go on a Muffin Top field trip and taste ALL of the flavors. For you, dear readers, we would make the sacrifice. And for awhile, it DID look like it might be slightly painful, given the cold and rainy weather this past week. But there is something to eating ice cream in wintry weather (well, that’s what I told myself).
However, we woke up today to clear skies and weather like Spring (and not Autumn) and jovial crowds of Cal football fans heading to the game–a perfect setting for a mid-day ice cream treat.
Susan, Connie, and I happily gathered in front of Ici ice cream and walked right up and said, “We want one scoop each of ALL your ice creams.” Oh, that felt SO good to say that. I have ALWAYS wanted to get a scoop of every damn ice cream in an ice cream parlor. That is like, one of my fantasy scenarios.
Apparently, no one has ever filled that scenario at Ici, because the employee behind the counter said, “We’ve never had that request before!” Then I whipped out the camera and started taking pictures, just to make things more conspicuous.
There are no places to sit at Ici. The place is small and focused on ice cream and kind of reminds me of a French-styled bathroom (the sterile mint green walls + tiles + marble give off a bathroom mien). I think it’s charming but not all that comfortable (this ice cream is certainly “to-go.”) But we eyed a little marble ledge that was just big enough to hold a biodegradable cup of ice cream. There, we laid down all 10 flavors in the current rotation: lime sherbet, maple-pinenut praline, chocolate, vanilla, rose, green tea, rock road, earl grey tea, cinnamon, and concord grape sherbet.
The ice cream was wonderful. We ate in no particular order, just whatever struck our fancy. There was not one ice cream that was unanimously favorited (a good sign, I think)–and so for my post, I’ll discuss my favorites (I’ll leave it up to Connie and Susan to post their own opinions and experiences).
Notable for me were the lime sherbet, rose ice cream, and earl grey ice cream. All the ice creams were good, but these stood out for me as unique and particularly tasty (the vanilla was the least remarkable–I think Haagen Dazs makes a better vanilla ice cream…and Connie remarked that she could make a better vanilla ice cream herself). The one ice cream that was very unique but not a winner in my book was the cinnamon ice cream–“On Apple pie!” we shrieked, but none of us were really won over by its strong and singularly cinnamon flavor.
The lime was (for lack of a more distinct descriptor) VERY LIME-Y! With a bit of a gingery kick (very very faint but distinctive) at the end. This sherbet has a full flavored zing that could work as a brilliant palate cleanser after entree, or just on its own. It is possibly the most refreshing sherbet I have had in a long time.
I am very picky about my rose ice cream. I’m always on the lookout for a good rose ice cream, but I’m usually disappointed by how “icy” and “watery” rose ice creams often are (including the venerable mashti’s). Ici makes a wonderfully creamy rose ice cream. Connie, an expert on so many culinary matters, thinks they use rose syrup as opposed to rose water for this kind of result. I am totally in love with this rose ice cream–and I especially love its faint peach color.
The earl grey tea ice cream was just so unusual, I’m inspired to make something similar with one of my Mariage-Freres teas at home. Could I pull off a rooibos ice cream? Ici’s earl grey tea ice cream has just the right balance earl grey flavor, we joked, “We should eat this with cucumber sandwiches!”
There are 7 more flavors plus 2 wonderful ice cream sandwiches we tasted–I’ll leave it to Susan and Connie to cover the rest of the bases!
Update: Connie’s Ici Tasting Part Deux here.