Ice Cream Decadence and Banana Splits

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What is the most decadent dessert you can think of? For me, and my childhood memories of trips to Wolfie's in Miami Beach, Florida, it's a tall ice cream sundae or a giant banana split, with no less than 2 scoops of ice cream, rivers of hot fudge, and a mountain of whipped cream (hold the formaldehyde-soaked cherry please!).

Recently, using my birthday as the perfect excuse, I decided that I deserved something a bit over-the-top (and perhaps I was paying homage to that big-eyed childhood excitement of ordering the most decadent thing on the menu). Luckily for me, I've managed to position my home within walking distance of the Bi-Rite Creamery in San Francisco. What I consider, hands-down, to the be the best ice creamery in the Bay Area, and located on, in my humble opinion, the most amazing culinary street in the Bay Area (home to Delfina, Delfina Pizzeria, Tartine, and the Bi-Rite Store).


Before I get into the ooey gooey goodness of my birthday treat, let me describe the Bi-Rite Creamery for those of you who haven't had the pleasure of sampling this year-old ice cream shop's creamy delights. On any warm day, and especially on a rare warm night, you can be sure the creamery will be packed, a long giggling line snaking down the block, chock full of families and young hipsters, folks from the neighborhood and those who've traveled across the city. All there just to get a taste of the artisanal, seasonal flavors that go into Bi-Rite's ever-changing ice cream menu.

Salted caramel.
Honey lavender.
Creme fraiche.
Chai spiced milk chocolate.
Double ginger.
Balsamic strawberry.
Roasted banana.
Luscious lemon. (ok I added the luscious)

Maybe some of the flavors sound out there. But they also have The Best-Ever Yummiest Vanilla Ice Cream. (no really, I swear, that's the title). And Super-Extra Bittersweet Rich Dark Chocolate. And on a recent trip, one of my all-time faves, Rocky Road. Granted it was made with homemade marshmallows and marcona almonds, but it was the best damn Rocky Road that I've ever put in my mouth.

Anyway, I had determined, at least for me, that the banana split was their most decadent item. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty of decadence at Bi-Rite Creamery. They have an entire sundae menu. Hell, they have a s'more pie! But their incredible version of this old-school treat had me wide-eyed and feeling naughty.

They start with two giant scoops (or was that four scoops?) of ice cream, your choice. I chose creamy dreamy vanilla and salted caramel. (Ok, before you say "ick" for those of you who haven't tried it, salted caramel is by far my favorite flavor, with it's intense flavor and almost fluffy melty texture. It's not for the timid--it is sophisticated, rich, intense, and yes, decadent.)

The ice cream is drizzled with bittersweet warm chocolate, and then the blow torch comes out. Seriously.

They split the banana, sprinkle it with brown sugar, and fire it up until it's crisp and caramelized. Nestled on top of the ice cream, my perfect banana split is then topped with freshly whipped cream and a handful of caramelized toasted walnuts (I opted out of this last embellishment as I'm allergic to walnuts).

Mmmmmmm. Heaven. I have to admit though, I did have to split my split. But it was all I could do not to lick the bowl when we were finished. I can't wait until my birthday next year. I think I might make this a tradition.

Bi-Rite Creamery
3692 18th Street (between Dolores and Guerrero)
San Francisco, CA 94110