Friday, March 19, 2010

Favorite Ice Cream and Yogurt Spots

With the weather warming, I can enjoy two of my favorite foods - ice cream and frozen yogurt.

For cheap eats, I go to Rite Aid in downtown Oakland during work. I am not sure if every Rite Aid sells ice cream, but it is worth a look if you happen to be near one. Rite Aid sells my childhood favorite, Thrifty's ice cream. Although the price has gone up from $0.99 to $1.29 for a single scoop in a cup or cone. Thrifty was the place to get ice cream growing up, so I return for nostalgia and the great price. The cylindrical scoop is still in use, making a perfect block of ice cream that won't easily fall off the cone. Not all flavors are good, so you have to know what to get. I would avoid sorbets since they are made of sugar and not real fruit so are really sweet. Mint chip and rocky road are my favorite.

For cheap froyo, I go to Yogurtland. At $0.30 per ounce, you can mix and match as many toppings and yogurts as desired. Each location has at least 5 yogurt flavors, ranging from original tart to strawberry and cheesecake. Toppings are just as varied and include cereal, nuts, dried fruit and candy. My go-to spot is the one in downtown Berkeley on Shattuck.

Other memorable places that cost a bit more are Fentons Creamery and Restaurant in Oakland and ici in Berkeley. Fentons is an East Bay institution, having been around for 115 years and immortalized in the Pixar film Up. Going to Fentons is like visiting an old ice cream parlor where waiters wear trifold paper hats, white pressed shirts and bowties. The ice cream is good, but I always go for the sundaes. My favorite is the black and tan, almond and vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup, toasted almonds, whipped cream and a cherry. I have yet to try the gigantic banana split, pictured.

Having only opened in 2006, Ici in Berkeley doesn't have the history of Fentons but I am sure it will be around for a while. Started by a former Chez Panisse pastry chef, ici is gourmet ice cream at its finest. Ice cream made daily from sustainable, fresh ingredients like Meyer lemon, cardamom rose and Earl Gray tea, these are flavors you will not find in the grocery freezer section. Since the flavors can be unfamiliar, be sure to ask for samples. The staff is friendly about that, but ask that you limit samples to two to keep the line moving - and there will be a line out the door. However, the ice cream is delicious and well worth the half-hour wait and $3.60 price for a single scoop on a hand-rolled sugar cone.

Rite Aid (various locations)
1400 Broadway Ave., Oakland

Yogurtland (various locations)
2236 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley

Fentons Creamery and Restaurant
4226 Piedmont Ave., Oakland

2948 College Ave., Berkeley

Photo: Mika D.

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