It was a pretty epic weekend in San Francisco. We have been waiting ten years for the new “Grand Central of the West,” the Salesforce Transit Center, to open, and this was the weekend it finally happened! A huge grand opening Block Party was held to mark the occasion.
While it is functionally a bus terminal and train station (and future hub for the high speed rail, which I hope I’ll be lucky enough to see in my lifetime), its real crowning achievement is its 5.4 acre rooftop park, an amazing urban oasis among the skyscrapers.
And what’s a park (and party) without ice cream?! To my delight, Churn Urban Creamery was among the pop-up food vendors on hand for the celebration.
Churn has been on my list to try, but I will admit I have been a tad skeptical. Their shtick is “egg-less dairy and non-dairy ice cream” that is supposedly less sweet but more flavorful. I’m more of an ice cream purist, so this sounds questionable to me. But, I love that they are all about sourcing their ingredients from local farms and their products being super fresh.
I tried the Creme Brulee, and my friends gave “The Local Special” (Coffee) a shot (and it turned out to be a pure shot of caffeine, at that!). The coffee was sourced from local roaster, Andytown, I’m a little ashamed to admit I wasn’t familiar with them before this, but I now know it’s a local shop famous for its bracingly strong brews, which apparently the coffee ice cream fully embraced. The perky little flecks of coffee grounds helped, no doubt.
The creme brulee had a lovely, pronounced vanilla flavor with nice hints of brown-burnt sugar woven in. I found the actual chunks of burnt sugar to be a bit to bitter for my taste, but it gave it a nice punch of flavor against a more subdued base. Texture-wise, it was smooth and quite light. Overall, it lacked the creaminess I tend to look for in ice cream; it had a more watery quality. Yet, even with the sun beating down, it didn’t melt too quickly. I’m curious as to whether this had anything to do with their recipe. (Note to self to investigate further.)
All in all, I have to give it to them; they turned my skeptical attitude around. This was a tasty treat with a unique flair, and I would certainly be willing to give some other flavors a try.
Plus, they are clearly a hard working bunch devoted to making a real go of the ice cream business. They are scooping out of a cute little cart now that they have been trekking to events, festivals and farmers’ markets for the past few years. But they are on a mission to earn enough to open up a full shop in Portola soon. You can learn more and help donate to the cause here.
Given the new park is just one block from my office, I seriously hope an ice cream stand like Churn becomes a permanent installation. It’s an ice cream desert in this neighborhood, and sometimes a girl just needs a scoop of something sweet to get through a tough day (or celebrate a good day…or just generally break up the day…whatever the excuse du jour may be)!
Total score: 4 scoops