Gourmet vegan chef Barry Schenker has long been transforming the specialities of Berkeley's "Gourmet Ghetto" into vegan variations. Now he's booting the dairy from gelato, citing the rich ice creams of Chez Pannize as a goal and the lackluster frozen vegan treats on the market as inspiration for Genuto
You might have guessed from its punny name that Genuto also eschews all forms of soy or rice replacement milk and is entirely nut-based. The nuts provide the rich, creamy texture we expect from ice cream.
With summer coming and the lines at Bi-Rite
not getting any shorter, we decided to give Genuto's seven flavors a try. Most of our taste-testers were not vegan or even vegetarian, but Schenker is adamant that Genuto is so good you don't need to be. Genuto is certainly even more appealing for Vegans, animal activists, and the lactose intolerant.
So, let's get to the dessert. We made sure to let the pints sit out for the recommended 15 minutes at room temperature, and the bite I snuck before then confirmed that the creamier texture came with the wait. Even after 15 melting minutes, I'd describe the texture as more smooth than creamy, but a vegan in the crowd begged to differ, waxing poetic about the rich and creamy texture. There was definitely less iciness and none of the chalkiness that you often find in vegan ice creams.
The flavor of the pistachio was pronounced and rich. The clearly all-natural color was slightly off-putting, but preferable to an artificially dyed alternative. We also liked the chocolate cardamom; the deep chocolate complemented by the strong spice proved a potent experience. The double espresso was also popular. It wasn't as sweet as the others and offered a crisp, coffee flavor.
We were underwhelmed by the crystallized ginger root, which one taster likened to gnawing on the outside of a ginger root, and we thought the Madascar vanilla lacked an interesting flavor and might have been better suited to a milkshake or paired with fruit. Of course, one taster likened the whole idea of nut-based gelato to clown vomit, but another, similarly akin to hyperbole, described Genuto as the best ice cream she had ever tasted. I personally found all the flavors a little too sweet and will still turn to Scream Sorbet
for dairy-free deliciousness.
You can Genuto's five flavors, and the soon-to-be-released mango and chocolate hazelnut (guilt free gianduja?) at any Bay Area Whole Foods
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3692 18th St., San Francisco, CA