The time has finally come and on this Friday, April 14, the bay area will get its first Salt & Straw scoop shop. The stellar Portland-based ice cream company will be taking a similar approach to their stores in Los Angeles and will offer some SF scoop shop only flavors that you have to be present for to actually experience and taste that will be unique not only in their exclusivity but in their profile to represent the bay area. I was fortunate enough to get to try a couple of these flavors before they hit the public, and like everything S&S does, they are impressively great. Salt and Straw’s San Francisco exclusive flavor Roasted Strawberry Tres Leches combines a roasted strawberry ice cream with chunks of tres leches cake and a vanilla strawberry jam swirl.
The strawberry ice cream is perfect. Bursting with authentic slightly tart strawberry flavor there’s a touch of saltiness to the base that is simply delectable and tempers the aggressive sweetness of the jam to create a full bodied multi-layered berry flavor. The roasted element of the strawberries gives a true-to-taste fruit experience that shares absolutely nothing in common with lower quality, artificial tasting “strawberry” ice creams. I’m not as well versed on berry bases as I am with sweet cream, caramel, or chocolate, but this is without a doubt my favorite strawberry I have ever had.
The tres leches cake is dense and chewy in a way that resembles cake batter with a beautiful cinnamon flavor that melds harmoniously with the two fruity components. There’s a touch of golden sheen to the cake that reminds me of graham crackers in the best way – channeling honey and spice and childhood nostalgia. A little bit of the cinnamon seeps into the strawberry, so even when you get a bite without cake there’s an added touch of spicy depth that elevates the ice cream beyond your basic berry and into something transcendent.
What makes Salt and Straw so incredible is their precise attention to detail, and everything about that precision is represented in this pint. From the use of vanilla strawberry jam instead of just strawberry, which adds a round fullness to the flavor, to the subtle use of salt to balance everything out, Salt & Straw truly craft the scoops of ice cream lovers’ dreams.