REVIEW: Humphry Slocombe’s Yuzu Cream (Whole Foods Exclusive)

Building on the success of last spring’s Hong Kong Milk Tea and autumn’s Golden Milk & Gingerbread, Humphry Slocombe are back in the collaboration saddle with Chef Melissa King and Whole Foods to deliver another exclusive pint of seasonal delight. Yuzu Cream utilizes the bumpy-skinned and oddly shaped Japanese Yuzu fruit for a new flavor to usher in the (hypothetical) sunniest time of the year. This new flavor drops in Northern California on June 6, simply described as “a refreshingly floral citrus, is dreamy with sweet rich cream”, and we’ve got an exclusive sneak peak today on the skillet.

IMG_0252

Continue reading

REVIEW: Salt & Straw’s Wildflower Honey with Ricotta Walnut Lace Cookies

Every May Salt & Straw dedicates the month to the magic of spring’s awakening. April showers bring May flowers and what better way to honor their beauty than by eating them? While I’m not a huge fan of floral ice cream’s I am a major mark for that sweet sweet nectar created with flowers via super buzzy bee love. Honey creates the foundation for some of the tastiest bases I’ve ever had, and while I’ll pass on Jasmine Chocolate Chip, and I can never turn my back on a pint of Pooh’s favorite. Wildflower Honey with Ricotta Walnut Lace Cookies combines honey ricotta ice cream with a hint of lemon and homemade whole oat and walnut lace cookies frosted with buttery ricotta icing.

IMG_0089

Continue reading

REVIEW: Salt & Straw’s Sweet Corn & Waffle Cones

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.

IMG_9383

Continue reading

REVIEW: Museum of Ice Cream San Francisco

Right behind Golden State Warriors games and the Orpheum’s Aladdin, the hottest ticket in the Bay Area since September has been the Museum of Ice Cream. The first round of tickets sold out in twenty minutes, and despite being in the digital “line” right when they went on sale, I was left out in the cold. Fortunately for me, the creators of the highly popular museum saw the potential and extended their stay until February and I was able to visit on the last weekend of December. Nestled away just off of Union Square in an old banking building, a big pink banner leads the way to the magical creamy wonderland.

IMG_8109 Continue reading

REVIEW: Marlo’s Bake Shop Soft Baked Biscotti (Original and Brown Sugar Coffee Cake)

IMG_8263

Although they aren’t as sexy as an oozing cream filled doughnut or as exciting as the latest wild Oreo flavor, I love me a good biscotti. As an avid coffee drinker how could I not get down with a cookie that’s usually baked twice to be extra hard and not only go along with but NEEDS a strong cup to reach its full potential? One year for Christmas I even replaced my usual batch of whimsy-and-butter laced goodies with three different types of biscotti. While I don’t tend to buy any particular type of biscotti and usually will just grab whatever the cafe I’m at has to go along with some espresso, I’ve found a great San Francisco based company putting a unique spin on the crunchy cookie. Marlo’s Bakeshop are a woman-owned bakery specializing in soft-baked biscotti that are free of preservatives and artificial flavors, with some inventive concoctions to boot. Continue reading

REVIEW: Salt & Straw’s Thanksgiving Dinner of Ice Cream 2017

Thanksgiving is the grandest meal of the year, and for the fifth time since they started in 2011, Salt & Straw are turning that epic feast into an immersive and inventive ice cream experience like no other. It isn’t just channeling the feelings and magic of the family-centric holiday, but actually fusing the savory salty flavors into wild new versions of America’s favorite dessert. This review is a little different than most, as rather than have a pint or scoop and pick it apart, I went into their new Hayes Valley location in San Francisco and had a full flight of the Thanksgiving Dinner of Ice Cream offerings all at once; eating them sequentially as if I was partaking in a meal. A Salt & Straw flight comes with four flavors so I had to add one on the side, in a waffle bowl for ultimate dipping and crunching satisfaction, and opted to put start the meal in said crunchy bowl.

FullSizeRender

Sweet Potato Casserole with Maple Pecans:
Sweet and spicy sweet potato ice cream with maple sugar caramelized pecans and maple marshmallow fluff.

FullSizeRender_1

This scoop might sound strange at first, but it’s a pretty recognizable profile that translates really well into ice cream. The base is sweet and cinnamon-y with an overall flavor reminiscent of sweet potato pie that is absolutely delicious as an ice cream. The sweet potato’s organic consistency helps make the texture extra creamy and is perfectly succulent smooth. The caramelized pecans are rich and fatty with an amazing sugary pop that reminds me of sticky pecan pie in the best way. The maple marshmallow swirl is incredible, as is all marshmallow when touched by S&S, and while all the ingredients are very similar, there’s no doubt this ice cream is better than any sweet potato casserole I’ve ever had. This is the only flavor in the lineup that doesn’t have any distinct savory notes and it is an absolute slam dunk. Very scoop-able, very pint-able, and the shining star of pure deliciousness in this series. Rating: 10/10

Buttered Mashed Potatoes and Gravy
Buttered mashed potatoes ice cream with a gravy fudge swirl.

FullSizeRender_2

Yes, this is quite literally potato ice cream, and surprisingly, it works. Thanks to the use of yukon gold potatoes the texture is mostly smooth and creamy with a bit of potato grittiness that immediately starts to play mind games with my tastebuds. There are nuances of butter and garlic, but the overall profile still leans sweet. The swirl is thick and gravy-like, with a texture that screams fudge and a flavor that screams a chicken-stock-kissed caramel with a hint of bitterness. It’s slightly savory but not so much that it’s off-putting, and the relatively basic flavor of potato makes it less likely to clash with other scoops if you wanted to do a little mash up. For as bizarre as this one seems it’s actually pretty damn good, and I would eat it again no doubt. It isn’t as crave able as an average scoop of ice cream, but it’s executed well. Rating something like this is really challenging, since it’s in its own niche category, but I will attempt a numerical grade. Rating: 8.5/10

Persimmon Walnut Stuffing
Olive oil and coriander spiked ice cream with homemade toasted walnut stuffing and bourbon raisins.

FullSizeRender_3

I don’t know about you but stuffing is one of my absolute favorite parts of Thanksgiving dinner, and that savory bread-y satisfaction is on full display in this scoop. It isn’t weird at all. The olive oil ice cream is lush and beautifully creamy with hints of pepper that play against the general sweetness very well. The bourbon raisins pop with bright sugary notes and the chunks of stuffing are no joke. They are large and in charge. The olive oil and dairy soak the stuffing like a bread pudding and the overall experience is one that is reminiscent Thanksgiving’s best side, but also very scoopable. My only issue with this one was I didn’t taste persimmon at all, and I really wanted to because persimmon’s are fantastic. Rating: 8.5/10

Salted Caramel Thanksgiving Turkey
Salted caramel turkey ice cream with candy-coated crispy turkey skin.

FullSizeRender_4

This is without a doubt the weirdest of the bunch, and as far as crave-ability goes, my least favorite. The base is rich with turkey stock flavor, onions, and spices, yet is still sweet and very rich. I’m a huge fan of sweet and salty, but throwing this savory curveball into the mix is a little challenging for my tastebuds. The turkey skin is buttery and crunchy like toffee but still packs a distinctly meaty and poultry-heavy flavor. It’s bizarre, and for what it’s worth executed very well. It’s not the kind of scoop I would call disgusting, it’s just not one that tempts me to want to eat more. One of the more exciting things I tried was a bit of this and a bit of the mashed potatoes in one bite, and yep, it was just like the classic mix on a real Thanksgiving plate. Rating: 9/10 on execution, 7/10 for my personal taste.

Spiced Goat Cheese & Pumpkin Pie
Spiced goat cheese ice cream with swirls of mashed pumpkin filling.

FullSizeRender_5

Who doesn’t love a good pumpkin pie to finish off the most indulgent meal of the year? I was super looking forward to this flavor, and while it’s good, I think it ultimately let me down the most. Goat cheese can work beautifully in ice cream, and S&S’s own Marionberry Habanero is a great example of this, but for my taste this one is simply too goat cheesy. The base is very tangy and almost tastes like a straight goat cheese log with just a touch of amplified sweetness and slight spice kick. The pumpkin swirl is great, but the ratio leans so heavily towards the base that I never feel like I got quite enough. The bites with equal parts of the two were terrific. Cheesy but spicy and sweet with lush pumpkin flavor – there just wasn’t enough of them to make me love the scoop as a whole. Rating: 7/10

Overall Salt & Straw’s Thanksgiving Dinner of Ice Cream is a total success – full of creative flavors that really do conjure up amazing memories of family and feasting. If you are fortunate enough to have a scoop shop in your neighborhood I highly recommend stopping in for a flight, and if you have an adventurous palate and can afford it, getting a 5 pack of pints delivered to your door would make for a really fun evening of food exploration.

FullSizeRender_6

REVIEW: Salt & Straw’s The Great Candycopia

Today is the one year anniversary of my first review on Sean’s Skillet. While I had written and rambled on about food on many occasions, October 30 was the day I finally took the plunge, and it all started with a review of a dark twist on one of my favorite Baskin Robbins flavors growing up – Trick Oreo Treat. It only seemed fitting that my one year anniversary review would be of my favorite ice cream company’s version of a trick-or-treat inspired scoop, with Salt & Straw’s The Great Candycopia; which combines a salted butterscotch ice cream with homemade snickers, whoppers, heath bars, and peanut butter cups. UPDATE: for 2018 S&S took out the whoppers and replaced them with homemade Twix bar chunks

FullSizeRender.jpg

First things first, Tyler at Salt & Straw absolutely nailed this salted butterscotch base. Butterscotch is such a unique yet subtle flavor, defined by cracking the sugar at just the right time and balancing it with enough butter, vanilla, and salt to carry those soft creamy notes, and this ice cream hits it on the head. The flavor is unmistakably butterscotch, just like popping a cold and super velvety Werther’s original into your mouth over a long conversation on grandma’s floral print couch. There’s something nostalgic and whimsical hidden inside all of its sugary glory, and it’s those warm melty sweet notes that make butterscotch such a throwback autumn treat. While butterscotch can oftentimes comes off as a too intense sugary punch to the face, the salted aspect of the ice cream helps balance out the potential over-the-top nature of the base for a well rounded and decadent experience that is full bodied and glorious, with moments of reprieve.

FullSizeRender_1

Reese’s and Snickers are two of my favorite candies of all time, and both of the in-house versions of these specialties are fantastic. The peanut butter cups are in large delicious chunks with a very smooth and rich peanut butter that reminds me of the great mini cups at Trader Joe’s. The PB is fatty and nutty without being too sweet, which makes it stand out against the beautifully intense butterscotch. The Snickers are a little bit farther from the original but just as delicious, with perfectly soft and smooth caramel inside of lush snappy chocolate with little bits of nuts to tie it all together. There are no peanuts in the ingredients but there are pecans, and I think they went with that autumn staple in lieu of the peanut, which gives some additional contrast against the flavor in the cups.

FullSizeRender_3

Whoppers and Heath bars are much lower on my list of favorite candies, but goddamn do they work wonders in the recipe here. It’s no secret that toffee is terrific in ice cream, and the deep, burnt, brown sugar caramel notes exist in perfect harmony with the butterscotch, delivering a huge satisfying fatty crunch. The whoppers play a similar role, maintaining all of their crunchy character and bringing a funky malt flavor to the profile that once again plays perfectly with the butterscotch and pops with huge chomp-y satisfaction. UPDATE: While I had no problem with the Whoppers, there’s no doubt the Twix is a big upgrade The cookie is softer than what you find the packaged variety with a massively thick layer of S&S’ top tier caramel.

FullSizeRender_2

From the first bite in all the way to the bottom of the pint this ice cream is like trick-or-treating in the best way. Digging into the sea of orange-y tan and chocolate brown I never knew what I was going to pull out, and oftentimes I didn’t know until I bit in. Would the bite be soft and creamy or hard and crunchy or smooth and sweet? It’s like reaching into a candy-stuffed pillow case after a successful night on the halloween prowl, pulling out treat after treat after treat. Fantastic.

Rating: 10/10
Found at: Salt & Straw (www.saltandstraw.com)

FullSizeRender_4

REVIEW: Limited Edition Cookie Butter Oreo

Cookie butter. Super delicious – but what the hell do you do with it? After pulverizing the wonderfully spice-laden European speculoos cookies into a sweet and crunchy spread akin to peanut butter, there aren’t too many paths to take other than a jar, a spoon, and a dimly lit kitchen. However, when feeling extra creative, indulgent, and cannibalistic, like topping a fried chicken sandwich with a fried egg, you can put that cookie butter into more cookies and make a cookie on cookie sandwich that should send sweet tooth’s spiraling into happiness. Enter – Oreo Limited Edition Cookie Butter Oreo’s.

image1

As is customary in opening all new bags of cookies, I inhale the sugary aroma, and as is customary with most limited Oreo flavors, the smell is predominantly of the wafer, in this case, graham. There’s pretty much no spicy speculoos-y scent coming from the pristine rows of tan on tan on tan, and I’m not that surprised.

FullSizeRender(2)

What I am surprised about though, is the flavor. These cookie butter cookies taste nearly nothing like cookie butter and entirely of graham cracker. The deep, spicy nuances of speculoos are nowhere to be found, and the creme simply backs up and mimics the flavor of the wafer. I love graham crackers, so the profile to me is overall pleasant, but it’s also a pretty big letdown, as there’s barely even a trace of cinnamon, let alone the nutmeg, cloves, pepper, or ginger I expect.

image2

Where I will give Nabisco some credit with this limited edition is in the texture of the creme, which they made gritty and slightly chunky to mimic what comes inside the jars of the real stuff. Unfortunately the grittiness is about all that really resembles the cookie butter in the isolated creme, as the underlining flavor is closer to regular sweet Oreo “white stuff” than any spicy spreadable magic.

image3

The one-noted aspect of these cookies ultimately makes them pretty boring. The most interesting part of eating these is the slight saltiness that’s revealed in the graham wafer against the relatively boring and flat creme. They’re less complex than a classic Oreo, and maybe even less complex than a Golden, and surprisingly one of the more disappointing limited releases this year. A creamy frosting-esque graham cracker? Most definitely. A cookie filled with cookie butter? Most definitely not.

Rating: 6.5/10
Found at: Target ($2.99)
Quick Nutrition: 2 cookies – 140 cal – 7g fat – 2g sat fat – 85mg sodium – 20g carb – 10g sugar – 1g protein

image4

REVIEW: Salt & Straw’s California Honey Rocky Road

The Bay Area is a wonderfully creative place. Our year round agreeable weather, crazy good food scene, and tech giants’ home bases have yielded tons of great innovation, but the inspiration has been alive for decades. Not just the now-mainstream mission style super burrito, or the the major metal influence of Metallica, or the game-changing person-to-person swapping of Craigslist, but something much more classic, and even nostalgic, has its roots in the bay – rocky road ice cream. Lore has it that in 1929 William Dreyer took his wife’s scissors and cut up walnuts and marshmallows to add to his chocolate ice cream on the regular in Oakland, California, mirroring a favorite candy bar made by his partner, Joseph Edy (recognize those names?) After the Wall Street Crash of 1929, the ice cream creating duo swapped out walnuts for almonds and gave the flavor a name to would encourage people to smile in the midst of the Depression. 

Accidentally paying homage to its Bay Area roots, Salt & Straw’s California Honey Rocky Road combines chocolate cream cheese ice cream with candied California almonds and a ribbon of honey marshmallow fluff.
image1

The chocolate cream cheese ice cream is delicious but a little bit different than I anticipated. It’s incredibly smooth, rich, and velvety with the succulent texture of cream cheese but none of the tang. This isn’t an issue, just a bit of a surprise, as I would have welcomed a little bit of funk into the well-established profile of rocky road. The chocolate notes are light and on the milk side of the cocoa-equation, channeling old school scoop shops and little league malt cups eaten with a wooden spoon. It’s classic and very well executed, albeit a bit mild for my personal taste; and despite the cream cheese curveball in the description, shouldn’t push anyone away with unadventurous tastebuds.

image2

image3

Candied nuts are one of my absolute favorite mix-ins, and this flavor highlights every reason why I love them. The almonds are crunchy, sweet, fatty, and bursting with roasted almond flavor. They pop up in varying sizes, from small pieces of a nut to massive soundeffect-inducing boulders. The candied technique used on the almonds is light and almost crisp, much less like brittle and much more like honeycomb or crisped rice, and it’s a refreshing textural treat.

image5

The real showstopper in this pint, and one that Salt & Straw is no stranger to using in other great flavors, is the honey marshmallow fluff. I want to go on record and say ALL marshmallow fluff should be made with honey. It takes absolutely nothing away from the gooey, stretchy-sweet qualities of the marshmallow and boosts it up with amazing golden honey goodness. There’s simply nothing lost and everything gained by fusing the two elements together. The swirl is incredibly ample and well-placed throughout the container, often setting up in massive globs big enough to get an entire spoonful, which is a must, and is indulgent deliciousness at its finest.

image4

image6

Rocky road is not one of my go-to staple ice cream flavors, but this is the best rocky road I’ve ever had. It’s elevated enough to standout against the many others I’ve had while not steering too far away from the core of what makes this flavor what it is. With a darker, more complex chocolate base this could be a pint I have to stock up on for the winter, but as it stands it’s just a damn good twist on a classic, and an absolute must try if you’re a rocky road enthusiast.

Rating: 9/10
Found at: Salt & Straw (San Francisco, CA)

REVIEW: Limited Edition Pumpkin Spice Oreo

In 2014 Oreo joined the pumpkin spice party and I lost my shit. Autumn is the pinnacle party time for the tastebuds of señor cinnaslut (me) and the limited Oreo’s at the time had seen no spicy love, and were mostly a wash of weird fruit and ice cream flavors. I bought a package at first sighting and devoured them happily amid the glow of my three-wick Bath and Body Works Leaves candle. I was in my zone, and I loved them, but for whatever reason, I haven’t repurchased them the last couple of years. Being that this blog didn’t exist until last year I felt it was only fitting to give it another go, and shed some skillet light on the fourth season return of the Pumpkin Spice Oreo.

image1

The prominent cookie-nose on these pumpkin cookies is the very familiar scent of Golden Oreo’s – sweet and vanilla-y, with just a hint of cinnamon rounding it out. The combination of the golden wafer with the soft spice notes reminds me of graham, and I wonder how a graham wafer would change the profile – likely for the better.

image4

As a boy who loves him a healthy dose of spice, these Pumpkin-O’s are simply too subtle. The flavor starts just like the initial smell implies – almost identical to a Golden Oreo. It’s noticeably less sweet, being tamed by the artificial addition of spice flavoring, and only towards the end does it finish with a bit of cinnamon flair.

image3

Isolating the creme on its own reveals a bit more cinnamon depth, but still no tingle or real autumn intrigue is brought to the table. Although there’s a touch of cinnamon, the rest of the pumpkin spice gang – nutmeg, cloves, and ginger – are nowhere to be found. The cookie is actually less spicy and complex than the stellar Cinnamon Bun Oreo, which is a shame since it has “spice” in its name. It’s still a good tasting Oreo but it doesn’t bring anything particularly exciting to the table that makes me want to eat more, and I now remember why I passed on picking them up the last couple of years.

Rating: 7.5/10
Found at: Target ($2.99)

image5