Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Summer Means Ice Cream

As “summer” nears its end, the warmest days of the year are finally here, at least for those of us who live in western San Francisco.  So let’s talk ice cream.

We have a dozen or so ice cream recipe books on the shelves at any given time here, but of local interest are two newish additions to the shelf, both with a distinctly local flavor: Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream Book and Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones (the Bi-Rite Creamery’s entry).

They have a lot in common, from a predictable passion for good ingredients to clearly written recipes, from lavish full-color photographs to quirky flavors.  Both even feature mostly custard-based ice creams (vs. Philadelphia style ice cream, which is uncooked).  Mostly, the differences are in the tone and attitudes of the authors and in the details of specific recipes.  It’s almost as if one is the punk rock dude’s guide to making ice cream and the other comes from your smart, friendly, capable girlfriend.

Let’s start with Humphry Slocombe.  As I said, the roughly 40 recipes are clear and feature all the shop’s hottest flavors, plus some that rarely appear, from their top seller—Secret Breakfast, which includes bourbon and corn flakes cookies—through the rarely appearing strawberry (or, as they call it, “Here’s Your Damn Strawberry Ice Cream.”).  The really unusual recipes are those involving veggies, beer, meat, and cheese. The book also includes a few sorbets, sundaes, sauces, etc.  Overall, it’s a solid book and fairly priced at $19.95 from Chronicle Books.

The Bi-Rite Creamery’s Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones lacks the attitude, and makes up for it with thoroughness and 90 recipes.  There’s no lack of creativity, though—the book includes flavors like Earl Grey, Crème Fraiche, and Salted Caramel.  There are also a good number of non-ice cream recipes, including sorbets, cookies, sauces, ice pops, and more.  It is also a good deal—nicely produced, clearly illustrated, and bound in a hardcover for $24.99 from Ten Speed Press.

Take your pick—the edgy recipe book or the sweet one?  You won’t regret either one, so maybe just get them both.   

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