Sweet Beat: Our Food Critic's Sugar Crawl Through the Streets of S.F.

Categories: Brody, Sweet Beat

Janine Kahn
Little Skillet's Red Velvet cupcake: First on the list.

We wanted to take our friend Dieter on a tour of the best bakeries and ice cream stores in town. He's a well-traveled Berliner who loves to eat. But when we learned he was sleeping off his jet lag, we decided to put an ice-lined cooler in the back of the car and bring the sweets to the sweet.


First to go into the care package was a cream-cheese-frosted red velvet cupcake from Little Skillet (360 Ritch at Townsend), as we were lunching there on excellent fried chicken and waffles. (We love the cupcakes, though Little Skillet's individual pecan tart and the dense double chocolate raspberry bread pudding garner a more muted response.)

It was joined in short order by a fragile Thai chili lime meringue tart, as well as a bag of housemade spicy caramels, from Sweet (218 Church at Market), where we also sampled hot cayenne-spiked peanut brittle. We also stopped at Thorough Bread & PastrySF Weekly's Best of SF New Bakery from 2008, conveniently located almost next door (248 Church at Market), for one of the chocolate-caramel tarts decorated with a bit of crumpled gold leaf.

John Birdsall
Sweet, a mini gem on Church.

The line at Bi-Rite Creamery (3692 18th St. at Dolores), where we'd intended to get a pint of the salted caramel, stretched around the block. It wouldn't have daunted Dieter (queues don't make him flinch), but it daunted us, so we stood instead in the slightly shorter line down the street at Tartine Bakery (600 Guerrero at 18th St.), for banana cream and coconut cream pies, both in chocolate-lined flaky pastry. What the hell, we threw in one of Tartine's enormous, cheesy gougères, too. Man does not live on sweets alone.

Tamara Palmer
Jesus Juice: A blend of red wine and Coke.
Our last stop was at the stylish and experimental ice cream parlor Humphry Slocombe (2790 Harrison at 24th St.), where we tasted the new Jesus Juice sorbet (a mix of Côtes du Rhône and Coke, sweet but not compelling) and the peanut-butter curry ice cream (loved the peanut butter, not sure about the curry), before buying pints of our two favorites: the famed Secret Breakfast (Bourbon with crunchy cornflakes) and Blue Bottle Vietnamese coffee.

We threw in a jar of June Taylor blood orange marmalade, for our money one of the best jams in the Bay Area. It would be a sweet souvenir for Dieter, assuming we hadn't just guaranteed sugar coma.

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