Pumpkin pie ice cream, from beginning to end, at Three Twins Ice Cream
No one eats more ice cream than I do. I know, it's a bold statement--one that some may want to challenge. But I'm pretty confident that it's true. I generally hide the fact from friends until they really get to know me. My family all expects that pints disappear quickly--they hide them amongst the bags of frozen broccoli and peas in the freezer. And one of my favorite parts about going to school in Boston was that it could be 20 degrees and snowing and there'd be a big line for J.P. Licks wrapping around the corner on Newbury St. Those were my kinda' folks.
Thankfully, San Francisco doesn't disappoint either. When I first moved to the Bay Area, I really tried to fight my passion/addiction with a variety of sugar-busting cleanses and tonics. But I've given in. And lately in a few of my favorite scoop shops, I've noticed some seasonal flavors that I can't stop talking about. Fall has definitely arrived and there's no time like the present to get yourself a cone before the season--and these flavors--pass us all by.
Three Twins: How can you not love a local organic ice cream shop that was opened by young native, Neil Gottlieb after deciding to ditch business school and just get moving? Named after their living situation at the time (he lived with his twin brother and his wife), Neil set about to open a sustainable, green business. And it's sustaining me, that's for sure. While pumpkin is not an unusual flavor this time of year, their pumpkin pie ice cream is truly extraordinary. They use real pumpkin that they roast, skin, puree, and infuse directly into the ice cream along with a healthy dose of cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. I've had many a pumpkin ice cream cone, but never one with ribbons of real, vibrant pumpkin throughout.
Check out the real pieces of pumpkin!
Three Twins Ice Cream
254 Fillmore Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
Hours: Mon.-Thurs. 12pm-10pm
Fri.-Sat. 11am-11pm; Sun. 11am-10pm
Bi-Rite Creamery: Salted caramel fans, rejoice! You will fall in love with the brown sugar ice cream with ginger crumble swirl. It has that super soft, creamy consistency you're used to, but with flecks of ginger bits and rich, perfect caramel--it's quite something. I've been known to get a cone with a scoop of that and a scoop of their seasonal apple pie, a denser ice cream with streams of cinnamony crust and spiced chunks of apple.
Bi-Rite's brown sugar ice cream with ginger crumble swirl
3692 18th Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Hours: Sun.-Thurs. 11am-10pm
Ciao Bella Gelato: While I usually prefer hitting up some of the local shops, Ciao Bella has a luscious cinnamon gelato that you really should try. It is literally bursting with warm, autumnal flavors. The gals at the Marin shop told me that people either love or hate this ice cream largely because there is so much cinnamon in it. I fall into the love category--although a little goes a long way. I've heard rumors that they're doing a lovely fig balsamic gelato although the past few times I've gone to do some first-hand research, they've been sold out.
Ciao Bella's Cinnamon Gelato
One Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11am-6pm
Sat. 11am-6pm; Sun. 11am-5pm
Humphry Slocombe: Masters of innovative and seasonal flavors, these guys have created something magical in their Guinness Gingerbread ice cream. This one does sell out quickly--folks call, email, and tweet about its whereabouts--so you may want to check that they've got a bit before heading over. What I appreciate about this ice cream is its subtlety. Owner and ice cream magician, Jake Godby, doesn't hit you over the head with a strong ginger flavor nor does it have that occasional yeasty aftertaste that other Guinness ice creams have. Instead, it has that super creamy texture that folks have come to love at Humphry Slocombe and a quick hint of stout flavor along with bits of warmly spiced gingerbread. After a few licks, you'll remember that Jake used to be a pastry chef and a baker before he got into the ice cream world. It's obvious here.
Humphry Slocombe's Guinness Gingerbread
2790 Harrison Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
Hours: Everyday 12pm-9pm