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

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