Thursday, September 28, 2017

Humphry Slocombe Ice Cream

Update 2017

Humphry Slocombe hasn't ever been my top ice cream choice, but, when I had a chance to try an exclusive new flavor, of course I took the opportunity.

The flavor, Hong Kong Milk Tea, is a collaboration between Top Chef Finalist Melissa King, Whole Foods, and obviously, Humphry Slocombe.  It is available only at Whole Foods, only in NorCal.

The inspiration for the flavor was the traditional milk tea Chef King grew up drinking every morning, mixed with cookies (for some texture, but also, tea and cookies is just far more fun than tea alone!).  It is made with local Numi black tea (Breakfast Blend) and condensed milk as the base, with the aforementioned cookies (almond cookies, made in house at Humphry Slocombe) mixed in.
Hong Kong Milk Tea.
Well, yup, it tastes like milk tea.  The black tea flavor was obvious, although not quite as intense as drinking a real strong milk tea.  It was sweet and creamy, just like, well, milk tea.

The almond cookie surprised me.  I knew it was in there, but I expected either chunks of cookie (a la classic cookies and cream) or swirls of cookie (like the cookie swirls Ben & Jerry's incorporates), rather than just integrated cookie crumble.  There were certainly no chunks, and nothing you could pick out as "oh, that was a cookie", but rather, it just added a texture and slight crispiness to most bites.  Really fascinating, actually.

Overall, I enjoyed it.  Good flavor, nice balance of sweetness, a bit of texture.  I tend to go for more texture and creamier ice cream, but, this was good.

Oh, and, uh, it was caffeinated, which I expected given the black tea base, but was far more caffeinated than I was anticipating.  Or maybe I just had way more than I realized (this was my first scoop, above)?  I was buzzing off the walls soon after, and the zing lasted with me for a few hours.  Uh, oops?

Update 2014

Over the past few years, I've tried out a number of flavors of ice cream from Humphry Slocombe, both at their first ice cream shop in the Mission, and more recently, at their new location in the Ferry Building.

As you can see below, I wasn't impressed with Humphry Slocombe in the past.  I'm not sure if their ice cream has changed, or if I have, but I have now found some flavors that I really do like, thus, an update is in order.  I'm glad I gave them another try!
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip, Single Scoop, $4.
This is the first flavor that I have really, really liked.  The ice cream was creamy and melted perfectly.  The base flavor was peanut buttery, strong enough to taste, but not overwhelming.  The chocolate was tiny flecks rather than chips, plentifully distributed throughout.  It tasted like a peanut butter cup, just as ice cream, and so much better.  When I was younger, I used to always get Flurries or whatever they were called at my ice cream shop of choice, and always went for vanilla mixed with peanut butter cups.  It reminded me of those, except, soooo much better.  I'd definitely get this again.

Update: I got a pint of this.  The texture never seemed quite right.  It was too hard at first, and even as it melted, it never got very creamy.  It seemed to just go from hard to soft, with no nice phase in-between.  The peanut butter flavor wasn't strong enough.  Meh.
Secret Breakfast, Single Scoop, $4.
It had been a few years since I tried Hupmhry Slocombe's signature flavor: Secret Breakfast, aka, bourbon with cornflakes.

The flavor of the base ice cream was good, boozy, but sweet.  But the texture of the ice cream was grainy, starting right when I got it.  Even as it melted, it just never got creamy.  I almost think something had gone wrong with this batch, or perhaps it had gotten heat exposed accidentally?  The cornflakes, while cute, were soggy.

Overall, there are things to like about this, but the bad texture of the ice cream and the soggy cornflakes put it into gimmick territory for me.

Update: I also got a pint of this.  I knew I hadn't really liked it before, but I also knew it is their signature flavor, so I had to give it another try.  The base was again very boozy.  There is no doubt in your mind that this contains alcohol.  But, the cornflakes were again soggy and just kinda nasty to me.  The only thing I liked about this flavor is how soft it was, and how nicely it melted.  I think the high alcohol content helps make it meltier.
Harvey Milk & Honey Graham, Single. $4.
This flavor was originally made in honor of Harvey Milk day, but it turned into such a hit, that they added it to the regular line up.

The base is "milk" flavored ice cream, aka, plain, not "vanilla".  It has homemade graham crackers throughout, and is infused with blackberry honey.

The base was creamy, it melted really nicely.  It further convinced me that something just went strange with the batch of Secret Breakfast I had a few days prior.  This was the consistency of high quality ice cream.  I love mix-ins, so appreciated that the graham crackers added a ton of crunch, and I was fond of how many there were, and the size of the bits.  But this ice cream was all about the honey.  In a serious way.  The honey was too strong for me.  So sweet.  The graham cracker helped balance it out a bit, but it wasn't nearly sufficient.  I wouldn't get this flavor again.

Update: And I got a pint of this.  Wow, so sweet.  So very, very sweet.  Just completely in your face with the honey, which is a nicer sweetness than generic sweet, but wow, just too much.  I did however love the graham crackers in it.  There were tons of chunks, they were all varied sizes, some just little bits, others huge ones worth digging for.  I polished off this point in record time, even though I was dying from sweet overload, just because I was having too much fun going for the chunks.  If the sweetness was just toned down a little bit, this has potential.

[ No Photos ]
  • Bananas for Beach Blanket Babylon: This is a limited edition flavor to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Beach Blanket Babylon.  I'm not familiar with Beach Blanket Babylon, but of course I wanted to try something special.  I was told it was a roasted banana and apple ice cream with frosted peanuts, a bit of a strange combination, but apparently this is directly tied to Beach Blanket Babylon characters.  Anyway, the banana flavor was very strong in this, too strong for my taste, so I'm glad I just asked for a sample before committing to a scoop.  I didn't want more of it, but the frosted peanuts sounded really good.
  • Cinnamon Brittle: The cinnamon flavor was strong, but the dominant flavor was ... cayenne!  It had some serious heat to it.  I liked the crunchy brittle, but it was a bit too spicy for me, or maybe I just wasn't in the mood for it.
  • Jam + Toast: now this was strange.  Like Secret Breakfast, another "breakfast" themed flavor, aka, one you can feel totally eat guilt free for breakfast.  Or at least that is how I prefer to think of it.  The jam I think was blueberry.  And, there were indeed tiny bits of … well, bread inside, for the "toast" component.  I almost liked this, but, the resulting texture was just a bit too weird.   It was like breadcrumbs in my ice cream, so no longer smooth and creamy.  But flavorwise, very interesting.
  • Oolong + Fortune Cookie: this had a lovely oolong flavor, very subtle and delicate.  But the fortune cookies were in huge chunks and soggy.  Interesting concept, but the mix-ins ruined this one.

Prior Review, Published 4/19/12

I know people love this place.  I know they use Straus Organic Dairy for their ice cream base, source organic, local ingredients whenever they can, etc, etc.  They also make crazy flavors (ZOMG!  Bourbon and corn flakes!)  But honestly, there ice cream has never really impressed me.  The flavors just aren't that great, and the consistency is just that of generic, grocery store, standard ice cream.  Throw in the price tag associated with artisanal ice cream and ... I just don't get it.

These are my tasting notes compiled from the past year or so.  Multiple tastings are denoted inside brackets.
  • Bittersweet Chocolate: Same as salted chocolate but without salt, not as interesting, but nice and creamy.
  • Black Sesame: Good sesame flavor, enjoyable.
  • Blue Bottle Vietnamese Coffee: Nice coffee flavor.  [ Decent coffee flavor] [ Really strong bitter coffee flavor, not sweet, I like it ]
  • Brown Butter:  Just sorta sweet, not very distinguishable flavor. [ Pretty flavorless, but nice and creamy. ]
  • Candied Ginger: Had nice big chunks of candied ginger in it. Very refreshing. [ Nice ginger, refreshing ]
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter: Nicely loaded up with peanut butter, not bad.
  • Cinnamon Brittle: Sweet cinnamon ice cream with big chunks brittle, very pronounced cinnamon flavor. [ Not all that much cinnamon flavor, not creamy ] [Nice cinnamon flavor in ice cream, enjoy the crunch from the brittle. ]
  • Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip: Not any cream cheese flavor at all. Very disappointing.
  • Crème fraîche: Definitely tasted like crème fraîche, would pair well with certain desserts.
  • Dulce de Leche; Sweet and creamy.  My favorite of any I've tasted.
  • Elvis (the Fat Years): Banana ice cream with bacon peanut brittle.  Ice cream base didn't have much banana flavor at all.  The bacon peanut brittle was salty and nice, gave a great crunch, and was intense bacon flavor.
  • Harvey Milk and Honey: Has little chunks of honey graham crackers in it.  Not very creamy, chunks not very significant, kinda just sweet ice cream.
  • Honey Thyme: I didn’t taste the thyme at all. Sorta sweet from honey. Not very creamy.
  • Malted Milk Chocolate: Just chocolate, don’t get malt flavor at all.
  • Malted Dulche De Leche: Sweet, didn’t really get the malted part, nice and creamy, didn’t really like.
  • McEvoy Olive Oil:  No real olive oil flavor at all.
  • Mexican Chocolate: Sorty spicy but not much spice detected, not very interesting.
  • Peanut Butter Curry: Peanut buttery curry ice cream with peanut butter curry cookie pieces.  These flavors didn’t work for me, this was super strange!
  • Rum Raisin: Very boozy, do not like [ nice and boozy, plump raisins, good consistency. ]
  • Salted Chocolate: Nice chocolate ice cream but overrated [ really excellent salty flavor ] [ insanely salty, too much ]
  • Secret Breakfast: Bouron flavor nice [ nice boozy flavor ] [ meh, just boozy ] [ boozy, decent ] [ no flavor, no booze, nothing ] [ Boozy, creamy, not bad ] [ Not very boozy, but nicely creamy ]
Non-Ice Cream
  • Peanut Bacon Brittle: Ok, decent amount of peanuts, but not much bacon detected. [ not very good ]
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