San Francisco is a hub of converging cuisine where just about any flavor can be found, and thankfully that includes foie gras. After a stint on the banned list, foie gras is once again available in California. Chefs across the state are free to continue exploring the ways foie gras can be manipulated to suite any meal. Knowing that some of the most forefront creativity would be in San Francisco, Chef Zach googled “san francisco foie gras” and that’s how we found ourselves arranging a visit to the Mission location of Humphry Slocombe.
Of the dozens of flavors made, the parlors keep available a handful at a time. If we lived in the City, we would be hard pressed not to visit daily as an excuse to see what’s on the menu. But being that we a party of two in our first visit, three scoops seemed like a good sampling.
Too often people might think “spicy” when they read “curry” but that’s furthest from the truth here. The curry for the peanut butter curry ice cream added an element that was reminiscent of a southeast Asian flavor profile. Natural peanut butter, ground finely, has a cookie dough texture when frozen. This provided a nice texture to an otherwise very smooth consistency.
The texture of the horchata ice cream was different from that of the peanut butter curry, due to the natural cinnamon. The cinnamon flavor was not overpowering, but it was essential in order to bring a hint of grittiness, just like Mexican horchata has. This left our mouths feeling the same as if we had sipped real horchata (and that’s not a bad thing).
We played along and did not ask about the secret of the “secret breakfast ice cream” until after tasting it and having a difficult time placing the flavors. Once told, though, it all made sense: bourbon ice cream with corn flake cookie crumbles. Kind of like how bourbon was the secret “coffee creamer” for the grownup adults when visiting Grandma’s, bourbon and breakfast go together in a nostalgic way for August. Humphry Slocombe flavor creators must have had some similar experiences! The ice cream itself was lighter in texture than the peanut butter curry and not as creamy, but just as fulfilling. It was not unlike polishing off a bowl of cereal. The unique flavor of the ice cream with nibbles of corn flake cookies gave this dessert a definite sugary-cereal-on-a-Saturday-morning vibe, but with an adult twist.
A generous bite of foie gras ice cream waits between two delicate gingersnap cookies. This is what to expect when ordering a foie gras ice cream sandwich, but you can also expect that they might run out just before you get to the front of the line. Despite the limit of one per customer, these little sammies fly out of the freezer from the moment they’re announced on social media. We were lucky enough to try them because we reached out ahead of time and Sean, a Humphry Slocombe honcho, made sure to set some aside for us so that we could write about them here. The ice cream had a caramel-like background flavor, but the foie gras truly was the star. It helps that the texture was very smooth and velvety, just like real foie gras. The gingersnaps were super crunchy and flavorful, which further highlighted the ice cream’s rich taste and texture.
Humphry Slocombe is Zach’s new favorite ice cream parlor. We will not hesitate to drop by any time we’re near and neither should you, no matter the day of the week, even with a line out the door, since the line moves fast and flavors rotate daily. It’s worth it to circle the block to find parking if you’re not a local. No matter what you try in the parlor or pick up to bring home, you won’t be disappointed by the inventiveness and quality.
Coolhaus started as a little ice cream truck in Los Angeles toting sandwiches inspired by architecture. Thankfully for those outside of L.A., Coolhaus now commands a fleet of trucks posted in several states, plus it has made its way into Whole Foods. Of all grocery chains, that would be the most suitable and aligned with Coolhaus’s philosophy, as the masterminds are committed to using all-natural, handmade, and organic ingredients and products when possible. Like the extreme attention to quality, the flavor combinations are extremely striking. Each creation intends to satisfy sweet and savory cravings; to reflect that sense of polarity, we picked up two sandwiches to sample, one bacon and one vegan.
Louis Kahn, one of the most famous architects of the 20th century, was inspired by ancient ruins. For this little structure, the roof and floor are made of chocolate chip cookies (not ancient at all). Soft but firm enough to hold the ice cream, these cookies would easily disappear quickly into the mouths of chocolate chip lovers of any age. The rich and creamy ice cream, though, is what made this sing, with brown butter and candied bacon. The bacon, more than candied, was vibrantly smoky but not overwhelmingly so. It balanced just fine throughout the sandwich, since there was enough sweet to go around from the vanilla undertones of the ice cream and the chocolate chip cookies.
Considering vegans don’t consume chocolate, this is one heckuva decadent dessert alternative. Providing this vegan option is right along the lines of Thomas Mayne and his pursuit of architecture with a focus on social agenda and urban planning – all those within the population must be considered in urban planning and development, just like all those within the population must be offered a delicious ice cream sandwich that suits their diet. The mango sorbet was sweet, tart, and tangy like true mango, and for how creamy it was without any actual cream, the texture was excellent. By missing the egg to help bind the cookies, there was a little bit of crumbliness, but vegans are likely accustomed to texture differences. Moving past the texture, the taste of the molasses cookies was spiced like the holidays, which accented the mango very nicely.
Making appearances and garnering fans from the audiences of Good Morning America and Coachella, Coolhaus has a following as eclectic as its selection. Figures, since it would seem that there is a flavor for everyone. When you find yours, your palate will be ecstatic.
Two sugar pie pumpkins can make more puree than you might initially know what to do with! Continuing our exploration of the possibilities for this seasonal favorite, Chef Zach found a recipe from a “trusted” online source. He realized, in the midst of mixing the ingredients, that the recipe had flaws. He knew how to fix them along the way, so here, now, is a tested recipe, verified by Chef Zach, that produces a soft cookie with a wonderful balance of pumpkin, raisin, and vanilla sweetness.
Makes about 2 dozen cookies
3 3/4 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups of raisins
1 cup of butter
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of pumpkin puree
1 cup of vanilla’d sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. of baking soda
2 tsp. of vanilla extract
1 tsp. of ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of ground ginger
1/2 tsp. of ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. These cookies will spread while baking, so if you’re not confident in depanning the cookies from your sheet pans, line two sheet pans with parchment paper or Silpats.
Mix the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg either thoroughly with a whisk, or put the ingredients through a sifter.
Put the sugars and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Starting on the slowest speed, begin mixing until the ingredients come together. Increase the speed to medium and mix until the texture appears light and fluffy, about 4-5 minutes. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, turn the mixer back on to medium, and add 1 egg at a time with 10 seconds in between each egg. Then add the vanilla. Mix until well combined, at least another 2 minutes so that it is fully incorporated. Turn off the mixer, and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle again. Add the pumpkin puree, turn the mixer to the lowest speed, and mix for about 10-15 seconds.
Add the flour and mix on the lowest speed for about 30 seconds until incorporated. Turn off the mixer, scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle, and add the raisins. Mix once more on the lowest speed no longer than 30 seconds. With an ice cream scoop, portion out 12 cookies on each sheet pan. This dough will be tackier and sticker than typical chocolate chip cookie dough, for example, so try not to manipulate it with your hands or even pack it into the ice cream scooper with the palm of your hand. Just scoop directly from the bowl to the sheet pan. Bake for 18-20 minutes, and let cool slightly before depanning. Cool completely on a wire rack.
Tip: This is a semi-sweet cookie, so if you tend to like sweeter cookies, you can ice this with maple icing. To make:
1 cup of powdered sugar
2-3 tbs. of maple syrup, depending on the thickness you desire
1 tbs. of half-and-half
Mix all ingredients together until smooth, then drizzle over the cookies.