Friday, August 29, 2014

Fainting Goat Gelato: We sample a neighborhood gelateria

Forrest and I are finally at least most of the way to being settled into our new Seattle apartment. To celebrate, we decided (of course) to check out one of our nearby neighborhoods, Wallingford. The main strip in Wallingford is home to at least two ice cream establishments; local behemoth Molly Moon and Fainting Goat gelato. We decided to start our explorations at Fainting Goat, which was started in 2009 by Yalcin and Sevim Ataman.

We went on a lovely and warm evening to sample the gelato. Gelato is the Italian word for ice cream, but has several differences from American ice cream. Gelato has lower fat content than ice cream and is churned very slowly, allowing less air to be incorporated into the final product. This leads to the formation of fewer crystals, making gelato exceptionally rich and creamy. Gelato is also served at a slightly warmer temperature than ice cream.

The space occupied by Fainting Goat is open and light, with ample seating and benches outside for people-watching on the sidewalk. The bins holding the gelato are accented with garnishes indicating flavors. It was slow when we arrived, so we had ample opportunity to sample gelatos before deciding. We each tried several flavors, with mixed results. A mint gelato was simultaneously too minty and too sweet; a habenero mango flavor was an interesting combination, with a slow spiciness, but wan't appealing for a whole serving. A pomegranate-blueberry sorbet had an oddly dental aftertaste and texture; in both the sorbet and a coconut gelato, the addition of whole blueberries or grated coconut reminded us of the fresh ingredients that had been used, while not adding to the overall texture of the gelato. However, the flavor that really shined was a seasonal lemon-basil gelato, which was delicious. Both the lemon and basil flavors were bright and obvious; the flavors synergized into a delicious combination. Overall, we felt that while the flavors and ingredient were consistently fresh and obvious, the gelato lacked in sophistication compared to other ice creams we've tasted. Our final scores came out to:

Texture - 4
Flavors - 6
Cone - n/a (although the homemade waffle cones did look delicious)
Execution - 4
Taste - 4
Ambiance/service/etc - 8

Overall - 26/50

Friday, August 22, 2014

Parfait Organic Artisan Ice Cream: we make a trip to explore Ballard

Frankly, our most important mission in Seattle is finding the best ice cream in the area. San Francisco had great ice cream. My personal top 4 ice cream establishments back in SF were Bi-Rite, Mr. and Mrs. Miscellaneous, Humphrey Slocombe and Smitten. Although Mitchell's always makes it into a list of top ice cream shops, for me it will always remain a trailing 5th place. We'll enumerate on the properties of each of these establishments in the coming weeks. But, we recently made our first foray into the ice cream scene into Seattle.

To most accurately quantify our ice cream experiences, we've decided to rate the ice cream purveyors in six categories: texture, flavor selection, cone quality (while we don't always get a cone, for this survey, we'll take one for the team and try one), flavor execution, overall taste and ambiance/service. We'll rate each category on a deeply subjective 10-point scale to establish a quantitative ranking mechanism. Someday, after enough sampling, we'll be able to crown a victor. However, although our goal is to find the best ice cream we can, I anticipate that most everywhere we try will be good enough to warrant repeat visits.

In an effort to couple our ice cream tasting to some neighborhood tourism, we headed over to Ballard to try Parfait. Parfait, started by Adria Shimada (who shares my deep and abiding love of ice cream), uses organic ingredients and sources as many of them as possible from local producers. Shimada's goal was to bring the ethos of Parisian pastry techniques to the production of ice cream; one delicious by-product of this goal is that there are a variety of treats in addition to ice cream.

Forrest and I went to sample the goods one evening after doing some running and biking. Parfait started as an ice cream truck, but now has a brick and mortar space in Ballard. The space is gorgeous; modern and simple decor, with soft lighting and light wood finishes. There is space for kids to play (and toys provided by nearby toy store Clover) and plenty of seating. There were just a few other people when we arrived, and service was friendly. We tried several flavors before deciding; I opted for a split scoop of blackberry and chocolate hazelnut, while Forrest got the butter toffee crunch. The blackberry was delicious, with lots of bright, summery flavor. The hazelnut had a mild flavor that could have had more intensity; the butter toffee crunch was elevated by home-made toffee. I also sampled the chocolate peanut butter cup (I love that combination!), which had giant chunks of peanut butter, my favorite incarnation of chocolate/peanut butter ice cream. The ice cream had noticeable crystals, which gave it a lighter profile than some richer, creamier ice creams I've had; however, I felt that the texture took away a little bit from the richness of the ingredients. We also tried the cone, which was thick and slightly chewy, but complemented the ice cream well.

So, our overall scores came out to:

Texture: 5
Flavors: 7
Cone: 8
Execution: 7
Taste: 7
Ambiance and service: 8

Overall: 42/60

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Who are we and what is this blog?

Forrest and I just (just!) moved from San Francisco to Seattle. We LOVED San Francisco, and are sad to leave. But every time we say we're moving to Seattle, we've gotten rave reviews of the city, so we're excited to start exploring. However, there were a few things that we thought SF did exceptionally well- ice cream and burritos to name just a couple. So, our goal is to document our efforts to find the best of Seattle and maybe re-live a few favorite memories from back in SF. :)