I could go on and on about how much I love Salt & Straw’s Chocolate Caramel Potato Chip Cupcake. I’ve made it my mission this year to get everyone I possibly can to hear me out and try it. CCPCC is the fine craft of ice cream perfected to such a degree that I hope it comes back every March, or in my dreams, permanently. Another of this months voted back offerings, Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie, is no slouch either, but there’s a sneaky good flavor lingering beneath the glitz and glam that really deserves your attention too. Sweet Corn & Waffle Cones combines a sweet corn ice cream with chocolate covered waffle cones, freckles of salted brown butter, and ribbons of rich vanilla caramel.
March is a wonderful time of the year. Temperatures start heating up, basketball is in full swing, the flowers begin blooming their little buds, and more importantly, Salt & Straw bring back their fan voted favorites. My very first formal Salt & Straw review was the astounding Chocolate Caramel Potato Chip Cupcake which was voted in last year and is back again this year for good reason – it’s incredible. The 2018 voting season also brought back the whimsical Pots of Gold and Rainbows, and a flavor that hasn’t seen the light of day since 2015 – Meyer Lemon Meringue Pie. This citrusy scoop combines a Nilla Wafer ice cream with housemade lemon curd and silky marshmallow fluff.
Among the coolest things I got to do while covering the Salt & Straw expansion to San Francisco for SF Weekly last week (check out the article here) was sit in with co-founder and ice cream maestro Tyler Malek as he made some fresh Olive Oil ice cream. The process in their new small SF kitchen was incredibly simple and equipped with only a small batch churner as they await the arrival of their 5 gallon ice cream machine to crank out bigger batches on the regular. I put together a short video showing some of the process that I found really interesting, engaging, and of course, tasty 😉
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.