Ici: More than just ice cream

The song that comes to mind when I walk into Ici in Berkeley is “My Favorite Things” from the Sound of Music.  When I finally walk inside the store after waiting (im)patiently in line thinking about the ice cream flavors I want to try, all negative thoughts have disappeared.  I’ve got a smile on my face and I’m ready to taste a few flavors before I make my final decision.  The store itself is so cute with beautifully packaged cookies and candies wrapped with clear cellophane and pink ribbons.  Yes, I feel like a little girl in a candy shop!

Mary Canales is the brain behind Ici.  It’s not surprising that she was a former Chez Panisse pastry chef.  Doesn’t everyone trained at that place find success?

Ici ice cream and everything else they sell is made by hand using local, fresh, and organic ingredients.   There are always 11 flavors of ice cream to choose from and many of them are an interesting mix of flavors.  Don’t be surprised when cardamom, rose, cilantro, earl grey, and bacon are part of the mix.  I love their earl grey flavor, but I tend to order something with candied fruit or nuts blended with another sweet flavor.

Ici has the best cones.  I still have a fond memory of my first time going to Ici which was almost four years ago.  I had eaten almost all of my ice cream and was starting to feel kind of sad.  I got to the tip of my cone, which surprisingly had been filled with rich yummy chocolate.  I was happy again.

Today I splurged and had two scoops.  I ordered a scoop of caramel caraway and a scoop of malted vanilla with chile pepita toffee.  The latter was the better flavor and very good.  I love the texture that the chile pepita toffee added.

Ici also sells ice cream cakes (aka bombes) and Baked Alaska which are great for parties.  These tend to be the highlight of parties that I’ve attended.  I didn’t even know what a Baked Alaska was before Ici.  A Baked Alaska is ice cream lined by cake and topped with meringue.  It’s white and shaped like an igloo.  You stick the Baked Alaska into a very hot oven for a few minutes in order to brown the meringue.  It’s the coolest thing and very tasty!

I heart Ici and am happy to be writing about it.  Did I mention their double chocolate chip cookies are to die for?