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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Number 5: Smitten's Chocolate Ice Cream

Posted By on Tue, May 8, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Smitten's chocolate ice cream with almond brittle. - JONATHAN KAUFFMAN
  • Jonathan Kauffman
  • Smitten's chocolate ice cream with almond brittle.

SFoodie's countdown of our favorite 50 things to eat and drink, 2012 edition


The Kelvin, as Robyn Sue Goldman has named Smitten's proprietary ice-cream-making machine, looks like a KitchenAid redesigned by the Nutty Professor. When you order up a scoop of the chocolate ice cream, the staff will pour a small cup of thick cream into the bowl of the machine and flip a switch. It begins shuddering and turning, spewing forth smoke, thanks to the liquid nitrogen that is flowing into the bowl, freezing the ice cream almost instantly.

Goldman switches up the stand's flavors on a near-daily basis, but her basic chocolate ice cream, made with TCHO chocolate and cocoa powder, is the most opulent. It has a deep, potent chocolate flavor whose impact almost approaches hot fudge sauce. By the third spoonful, you begin to notice that there's a little salt in there, too, which engages parts of your palate that most ice creams don't.

But it's the texture that makes the ice cream so marvelous. Kelvin produces ice crystals so minute that the ice cream seems to have been thickened and enriched rather than frozen. Aided by the fat from the chocolate, it tastes more custardy than custard, more buttery than a pat of softened butter. It melts quickly, this ice cream, so that you have to devote yourself to the scoop, spooning it up before the effect fades away. Which is rarely hard to do.

Smitten Ice Cream: In the Hayes Valley Proxy, 432 Octavia (at Hayes), 863-1518,

Other favorites in this series:

7. Hakka Restaurant's stuffed tofu
8: Al pastor burrito from Taqueria La Alteña
9: Pizza focaccia from Liguria Bakery
10: Boxing Room's dirty rice
11: Wing Wingschicken salad biscuit
12: Pamonha de sal from Pamonha's
13: Kasa Indian Truck's gobi aloo kati roll
14: Delfina's trippa alla fiorentina
15: Truffled tater tots from Leatherneck Steakhouse
16: Baia Pasta's durum-wheat pastas
17: Z&Y's flaming fish with chile oil
18: Auntie April's fried catfish
19: None but the Brave from Heaven's Dog
20: Saha's vegan kibbeh
21: Starter Bakery's hazelnut kouign amann
22: Pupusas at Cafe and Restaurant Montecristo
23: 2 a.m. apple fritter at Bob's
24: Le Sanctuaire's vadouvan
25: Crab louis salad at Nettie's Crab Shack
26: Soy sauce chicken from Happy Bakery & Deli
27: Locanda's Jewish-style artichoke
28: Local: Mission Eatery's asparagus-egg sandwich
29: Memphis Minnie's 18-hour brisket
30: Custard buns from City View
31: Mission Chinese Food's kung pao pastrami
32: Panisse frites from Frances
33: Izakaya Yuzuki's chawanmushi
34: Fatted Calf's chorizo
35: Silvanas from House of Silvanas
36: Linden Street Brewery's black lager
37: Aged oolongs from Red Blossom Tea Company
38: Broken Record's crawfish grits
39: Cebiche mixto from La Mar 
40: Nutella-hazelnut hand pie from Black Jet Baking Co.
41: Fifth Floor's burger
42: Perbacco's agnolotti dal plin
43: Iced coffee from Sightglass
44: Cypress Grove's Purple Haze Chevre
45: Lechon from Tastebuds Cuisine
46: Duck with beets from AQ
47: Tai nigiri at ICHI Sushi
48: Fish with explosive chiles from Spices! 
49: Baker & Banker Bakery's blueberry cream cheese muffin
50: Kufta tajine from Cafe Zitouna

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Follow me at @JonKauffman.

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