Saturday, June 21, 2008

We All SCREAM for Sorbet

It’s summer, so bring on the ice cream! I bet the lines at my favorites Ici and Bi-Rite Creamery are pretty long this hot weekend. But last weekend I discovered something different at the Temescal Farmers’ Market in the ‘hood.

This was the first time I spotted the Scream Sorbet tent at the Sunday market (which is in the parking lot of the Clairemont DMV in Oakland). This fairly new company was started by a couple of guys in Emeryville, and they’ve only been selling at farmers markets in the Bay Area. (There have been reports that they’ve been spotted at Alameda and Jack London Square. But you can find out where they’ll be by checking their Web site.)

So far their hand-made sorbets of seasonal, organic fruit have created a lot of positive buzz. Their flavors change often (again, check the Web site) but last weekend they were selling Maple-Walnut, Lemon-Buttermilk, Peach-Raspberry, Cherry-Lime, Carrot-Ginger and Strawberry-Rhubard.

They’re really good about letting you taste test their flavors, and I pretty much tried them all. There were definitely some nice ones (Peach-Raspberry was my favorite) and the oddities (Carrot-Ginger is great as soup but not so much as ice cream unless this is an Iron Chef challenge). What struck me as interesting were all the raves I was hearing from people around me. Almost everyone loved the sorbet, even though I didn’t think every flavor was a home-run.

The sorbet itself is definitely a plus. The texture is silky and gooey, resembling very much the house-made sorbets at fancy restaurants. It’s so thick that it really felt like eating ice cream. While there’s a definite sweetness, the girl behind the counter says it all comes from the natural fruits.

And now, the price. You know, I think I’m the only food person that’s so concerned about pricing because most critiques I read never seem to point out when they think pricing may be too high. Not me. I believe in paying for quality food, but sometimes it can be over the border. I’m ambivalent about Scream Sorbet so I’d be interested to hear what others think.

Scream Sorbet sells their sorbets by the single scoop or double scoop, and it costs $3 for a single. (I forgot the price for the double.) $3 might not sound too bad, but the scoop really looked kind of small. It’s in a really small, white paper cup and the scooping isn’t very generous. Sometimes you’re at Ici and you might get a really big scoop of ice cream to make paying that much worth it. And I know Bi-Rite goes crazy scooping large portions, even for the kid size I typically order! I can’t say the same for Scream.

I was at the Temescal market early in the morning and I wasn’t in the mood for sorbet for breakfast, so I decided to buy some to try later at home. The small plastic container, which is about a pint, sells for $10. Am I crazy but isn’t that a bit much? The girl at the counter (who actually was the girlfriend of one of the partners) says it’s equivalent to six scoops, and that I could mix flavors if I wanted.

I ended up getting the Peach-Raspberry and the Strawberry-Rhubard. But as I stood there I was getting buyer’s remorse, so I asked if I could just get two scoops of each flavor instead of three. The girl agreed and charged me only $7 instead of $10.

I enjoyed my sorbet later that night after dinner, and again the next night and it was a really luxurious experience. The Strawberry-Rhubard was sweeter than the Peach-Raspberry but still good. And I liked the Peach-Raspberry because it was subtle in flavor.

So if you spot the Scream Sorbet tent at your local farmers market, give it a try. It definitely is a treat. But let me know if you think it’s worth the price.

Scream Sorbet, currently available only at farmers markets in the East Bay.


David K. & Ann C. said...

Looking forward to checking out Scream sorbet tomorrow at the Temescal farmer's market ... the weather should be perfect for sorbet. You know, I have to say I don't think $3 sounds like a lot considering prices at farmer's markets tend to be higher than if you bought from a grocery store. I think you're paying a premium to get something you couldn't get anywhere else.

Anonymous said...

I think $3 for a tiny scoop is expensive, but I'll try it at least once.

Cool FREE events this weekend, hope u can make them, I'm going hiking instead:

foodhoe said...

mmm, $3 does seem pricey, but I am a big sorbet fan and would fork it over willingly if it were good. Geez, I dished out $80 for 2 boxes of Vosges haute chocolate... but that's a different story. I will have to check it out, thanks for the tip.

Beth Budwig said...

Hi, I'm Beth, the Scream Sorbet groupie pictured in the photograph above - thanks for the write-up. I'm glad you liked the Peach-Raspberry and Strawberry-Rhubarb! My personal favorites that week were the Carrot-Ginger and the Lemon-Buttermilk. We certainly don't want everyone to like every flavor, we just want everyone to *love* at least one. :)

As far as our pricing goes, we'd like to be able to sell larger scoops for less money.... In fact, when we first started, we did - but we were losing money at the market. Most ice cream shops in the East Bay use flavorings or fruit slurries - I think the only others using exclusively whole fruit are Ici and perhaps Sketch. Our sorbet has a very high percentage of fruit, and some of our flavors contain *only* fruit and sugar (like our Strawberry and our Carrot-Ginger). We list all our ingredients at the market and on our website. I know $3 is a lot for a small scoop, but we hope people find the flavor to be worth it! We're unwilling to settle for inferior ingredients.... even though we'd make waaayyy more money if we did.

Chef Ben said...

David, did you try Scream?

Anonymous, hiking over food? You really dedicated to your health. Somehow I feel used that I'm doing all your food testing? ;-) (Did you see my Ghiradelli post?)

Foodhoe, $80!! I hope you took lots of photos so you at least have a memory of what $80 worth of chocolates taste and look like.

Beth, thanks for giving your perspective. I recognize it's a challenge for a small business to figure out a price point. I do like your product. Hopefully you'll find success in volume! :)

David K. & Ann C. said...

Ben....didn't make it to the farmer's is unpredictable with a newborn. But we're definitely planning on being there this Sunday. Why don't you meet us there?