Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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|The scoop, the real one. Photo by Scream Sorbet|
That I have a sweet tooth is an understatement. My Twitter profile has “chocoholic” in it. That my kids like to participate in sugary adventures is nothing short of very true. Particularly after school when they look at me like they haven’t been fed in 2 hours. That my husband can’t live without his post-espresso treat is a genetic sugar reality. Take my tea-drinker word for it. Since we live in the Bay Area, what do you expect? We love discovering new bakeries, ice cream parlors and chocolatiers to satisfy our sweet tooth cravings. After school seems to be a particularly good time to go out and explore as my girls are ready to follow me anywhere just to eat. Lately, we’ve been pretty active on the sugar front so I thought I’d share three recent finds. Here’s to the after-school explorer in all of us.
Thanks to my weekly Tasting Table e-newsletter, I discovered the only ice cream shop that I believe rivals Berthillon in Paris. Wherever I go, chocolate is always my number 1 (and 2, and 3) choice. It’s rare that I taste another flavor so after all those years of tasting (geez, sounds like centuries!), I know my chocolate ice cream or sorbet.
At Scream Sorbet, I tasted hazelnut chocolate and askinosie chocolate. My kids had hazelnut chocolate and lemon rosemary. My husband tried askonasie chocolate and coconut kale. And we tried all the other flavors just for fun. All I’m sayin’ is “wow.” I want more! Actually I’ll have more because a) there’s three pots in my freezer and b) I need to return for the pineapple guava sorbet. It’s that yummy. The only thing that’s missing is cones. Scoops only come in tiny paper cups. They’re not big scoops either. Don’t expect the Ben and Jerry’s size that feeds a family of five. They’re precious scoops that scream for seconds. At the Oakland store, look for the map on the wall that provides the location of all the farms Scream Sorbet partners with to source their ingredients. Locavore, I say.
2760 24th Street, San Francisco
The whole donut story started for us when my piano teacher treated my girls to a donut at Happy Donuts in Noe Valley. That was last Friday. I’m not a donut fan but watched in awe as throngs of teenagers trickled in after school to get their donut fix. I learned that there were yeast-raised donuts and baking powder-raised donuts. That some are filled with custard, some with jam. Most important, my girls gulped their donut with a smile. This made me seriously reconsider donuts as a non-food item. Here was a huge piece of Americana I could not ignore. There had to be a gourmet donut shop somewhere in San Francisco. I Yelped my query and sure enough, Dynamo Donuts came up at the top of the list.
The next school day I took my girls after school. I was giddy with anticipation having read the different flavors on the website: caramel de sel, chocolate rose, candied orange blossom, saffron chocolate, lemon thyme. It was all so intriguing. Too much hype? At the counter, my hopes deflated when I realized there were only three types of donuts left that day: candied orange blossom, apricot cardamom and passion fruit milk chocolate. I took a couple of each to test them at home and the winner was clearly the passion fruit milk chocolate. What a flavor! Moist and light, it was well worth the extra 3 miles I’d have to hike the next weekend. The other two flavors were meh, fine but not worth 3 miles. The drag is that I know I’ll have to come back for the one I really wanted all along: chocolate rose.
San Francisco and Oakland
Miette’s old-fashioned cupcake really takes the cake, no pun intended. I tasted it three years ago. Loved it. Remembered about it last week. Tasted it again. Same taste. Addictive. What I love about Miette (I’m talking about the store on Octavia) is how pretty everything looks. It’s like you just walked into a 1950s Disney family movie. Pastel colors, cathedral-clear lollipops wrapped in shiny cellophane, vintage style candy, walls of glass jars filled with gummy fruits – it’s eye candy before it’s candy in your belly and it’s wonderfully orchestrated. It’s also a dream come true for my girls who enter the candy shop with eyes wide as flying saucers. The topiary tree with gumdrop “fruits” makes them drool.
Simple and elegant, it could be stronger in chocolate but it’s fine as it is. What makes the cupcake for me is the icing. I don’t know what it’s made of but it reminds me of a raw meringue topping my mom made on coconut cakes when I was a kid. When any food brings back good memories of your childhood, it’s worth the price. So there. Miette is in my sweet books and I intend to keep tasting.
Hopefully you haven’t overdosed on sugar reading this. I was about to write about chocolatiers too but I realized I needed to do some more field testing.