Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Sketch vs. Ici

Lately, it seems that boutique ice cream shops are popping up all over the place. Gone are the days when Baskin Robbins or Yogurt Park would suffice. Gone are the simple, but still satisfying flavors like chocolate and vanilla, or even rocky road. This past weekend at Ici, I tried Charteuse ice cream, followed by a sample of blood orange and saffron ice cream. Seriously. (Incidentally, I liked the first one. Saffron, in my opinion, has no place in ice cream.)

A while back, acting on a review from Fatemeh, I gave Sketch a try. Let me just start out by saying that there is no comparison between Sketch and Ici. It's like the first time I drove Twin A's BMW and then had to go back to my crappy Saturn afterwards. But here are my thoughts on Sketch taken from an old post I did at that other site...
Aside from the place being too small to enjoy their offerings inside in the case of inclement weather, the whole vibe was just...ummm...too cool for school. But perhaps the ice cream would make up for the douchey-ness, I thought. Yeah, not so much. First of all, the portions were too small. Small plates for ice cream? Not for $4.25, thank you very much. Secondly, its ICE CREAM!! Who really wants cardamom flavored ice cream? And the toppings? Olive oil and sea salt? Poached blood oranges? Really?! No good old fashioned hot fudge or caramel?! WTF?! I settled on coffee ice cream with cocao nibs on top. How was it, you ask? I was totally underwhelmed. The mouthfeel was too thin for ice cream (even soft serve) and was more like ice milk. The flavor was OK, but did not make up for the icy, watery taste. The coups de grĂ¢ce was the small wooden plank given in place of a spoon (You know, the thing that used to come with Carnation's malted ice cream at baseball games). I feel like this is the place where hipsters go when they want ice cream, not because it's good, but because it's cool to do so. Needless to say, I've experienced the novelty, and now I know. I won't be going back.
After Sketch, I was discouraged. But, one step into Ici this weekend was all I needed to know that this place serves decent ice cream. First think I noticed: no soft serve machines. Sketch had three. Gourmet soft serve? Puuuh-lease! Next thing that earned Ici bonus points: they had more than five flavors. And yeah, while their idea of a menu board did include individual wooden signs hung all around the store from pink ribbons, I appreciated what was written ON them (even if it was in pink, scrolly, foo-foo text). The flavors actually sounded good. And did I mention no soft serve machines? Ici makes all of it's delectable ice creams on-site, all by hand.

I took a good look around the rest of the store before settling on a flavor. They offered countless confections nicely wrapped with pink curly ribbons. I will have to go back for the homemade peppermint marshmallows. DJC settled on a hand-made ice cream sandwich, which he devoured before I could get a bite. I went with milk chocolate ice cream with salted almonds. I contemplated toppings and was happy to find things like hot fudge, and salted caramel. No olive oil or sea salt in site! Yes, the ice cream itself was sweet and creamy, but the saltiness of the almonds balanced it out perfectly. And even if all of Ici's serving materials are compostable and totally hippie, I got an actual plastic spoon to eat with! No wooden planks! YAY! And when it comes down to money, Ici wins again. Bigger portion for less money. And the people working there, although a little spacey, were VERY nice and not too cool to be there.

All in all, Ici wins for me. I'll be back again and again and long as I can find parking. ;)


Fatemeh said...

OK, so I'm totally gonna have to fight you on this one.

1 - Sketch isn't ice cream, so it's absolved, for me, of the need to be supercreamybutterfatty.

2 - Ici is just TOO damn sweet. Every flavor. Seriously. Cut back on the sugar a little.

Moving on... JLS farmer's market has a new stand: Scream Sorbet. The flavors are OFF THE HOOK. And I don't know how they do it, but the texture is much richer than a traditional sorbet. Freaking awesome.

The Enforcer said...

But...but...I LOVE supercreamybutterfatty! =)

The sorbets sound heavenly. We'll make sure to give them a try! Thanks for the tip!

Beth Budwig said...

We do it by using PacoJets and a whole lot of fresh fruit. Glad you like it, fatemeh. :)

I love some of Ici's flavors - although I do like small amounts because of how rich it is. I still have yet to try Sketch!

(btw, we're also at Temescal on Sunday and Old Oakland on Friday - all our locations are at