1177715410_1b7724c21cImagine, for a moment, that you are stranded in the vicinity of your friendly neighborhood Costco (-slash – Safeway – slash – Lucky’s – slash – Harris Teeter … whatever the heck that is). You are tragically desperate to quench your raging ice cream craving and—God forbid—sans the slightest amount of dinero. But hark, what’s this? At the farthest reaches of the parking lot, like a florid oasis befogged in the shimmering heat, a golden chariot patiently waits to aid your ascent into the exalted halls of tastebuds’ delight.

In layman’s terms: Free Ciao Bella samples at a supermarket near you!

It may seem too fantastic to be fact, but in this most hallowed of epochs—i.e. National Ice Cream Month—it seems that some dreams really do come true … especially if you find yourself dreaming of Gelato Mobiles pervading the nation. Which would admittedly be a little weird, but hey, we don’t judge.

Image Source: Sifu Renka under Creative Commons
Summer Tour: Ciao Bella to Share 1 Million Samples this summer [CiaoBellaGelato]


With one blogger on vacation, we decided to vacay ourselves and indulge in some gelato and artisan ice cream. Our bellies rumbling and one mind reeling over its imminent midterm, we set forth to go where no blogger has gone before.

OK, so we’re pretty sure people have eaten this shit before. But we sampled the craziest, weirdest and most exotic flavors we could find. And now we’re telling you how it is. Listen up, son.

Glide on …

First we drove down to 4th Street ’cause we’re lazy. We sat down at Sketch, which specializes in hand-crafted ice cream. It’s a little gourmet, if we do say so ourselves.

Earl Grey tea, $3.50

Skyler Reid: Sketch is not, in fact, sketch.
Gerald Nicdao: This isn’t Earl Grey tea. They lied.
Christine Borden: This would taste good with caramel.
SR: Sadly, they don’t have caramel here. They only have burnt caramel. It’s more expensive … Why are we eating with sticks?

Overall, a smooth, rich flavor, but with an odd and too-sweet aftertaste.
Quality of snooty dairy product: 7/10
Flavor with the most syllables: organic coffee granita
——

Next the Clog beetled over to Shattuck Avenue’s Gourmet Ghetto, where we found Ciao Bella Gelato. Oh God, that place smelled so good.

Carrot ginger, $3.95

GN: Doesn’t taste like anything.
SR: Spicy.
GN: I don’t taste that.
CB: I don’t taste the carrot. Oh. Now I taste the carrot. Tricky. Oh. It was like a ginger attack.
GN: I CAN’T TASTE THE CARROT!

Not as smooth as Sketch’s ice cream.
Quality of snooty dairy product: 6/10
Flavor with the most syllables: Straccitella chocolate chip gelato
——

We headed over to the Berkeley BART area on Shattuck to hit up Gelato Milano, which proved to be more exciting than its plain white exterior led us to believe.

Crem caramel, $3.00

CB: If baby flesh were to taste like anything, it would taste like this.
SR: It would be saltier.
GN: It’d taste like bacon … I still can’t taste the carrots.

Milano had the perfect gelato consistency, and the flavor wasn’t overpowering.
Quality of snooty dairy product: 8/10
Flavor with the most syllables: Mandorla tostata
——

Gelateria Naia was just a block away on Shattuck. We were suprised to find it, well, sucked. Then again, our flavor was tad ballsy.

Whole grains, $3.25

SR: Maybe it’s a good source of fiber
CB: Is that good for the anal stage?
SR: Are you coming on to me?
CB: OK, who wants to finish this one?
GN & SR: Not me.
SR: Fine, I’ll do it.

Accurate flavor, we’ll give them that. Too stiff and dry.
Quality of snooty dairy product: 4/10
Flavor with the most syllables: Madagascar vanilla, cantucci e vin santo and chocolate peanut butter
——

Our last stop was, like last time, on College Avenue. We said bonjour to Ici, a French ice cream parlor and bakery. Dude, they even had Baked Alaska.

Chicory, $2.75

SR: Definitely points for having real spoons. Bendable spoons. Oh my God, they are the perfect flicking spoon. Hey, Gerald, catch!
CB: These spoons are nice!
GN: Amazing! Can you break ‘em? … Kinda looks like sperm.
Skyler breaks his own spoon

Spoons aside, the ice cream had the perfect texture for its class. The flavor, however, was a bit too heavy on the spices and clung to our palates.
Quality of snooty dairy product: 7/10
Flavor with the most syllables: Lemon amarena cherry

Earlier: Crawling Berkeley: A Better Cuppa Joe