Delish! A scoop of Scream's beautiful Beet Lemon sorbet
What do you get when one reformed stock-analyst turned foodie, one ex-computer-programmer with a penchant for swiss kitchen gadgetry, and one professionally trained pastry chef all join forces? How about a company making what has to be the BEST sorbet you've ever tasted-- Scream Sorbet.
What makes this frozen, dairy-free dessert so special?
Well... everything. Scream Sorbet starts with high quality local organic produce chosen during its peak flavor window (for example, the "season" for their blood orange sorbet is one week!), then incorporates nifty science and technological wizardry to craft a specialized process that gives Scream its signature creamy consistency--and then kicks in the unbelievably short 24-hour product cycle that keeps it all so fresh, fresh, fresh (they literally pack each 3/4-quart container the night before it's transported to market).
Yes, the founders of this small artisan food business take their craft very seriously... and the evidence is in each yummy spoonful.
With quality produce driving the process - their fruit sorbets typically consist of about 75 percent fruit - little else needs to be added. Their recipes are simple, often consisting of only the main ingredient, water and sugar, added not for flavor (the sweetness is ideally derived from the fruit itself), but for consistency. You organic chemists will understand. For others, just know there's some science behind the decadent dreamy creamy consistency of Scream Sorbet.
Scream Sorbet was founded in 2008 by Nathan Kurz. Motivated by a desire to break free from his web-tech coding career, and inspired by a visit to a local farmers market where a friend was working, Nathan and his friend conceived the basic idea... buy local quality produce, turn it into something fantastically delicious, then complete the cycle by bringing it back to the market.
Two years later, joined by frozen-dessert aficianado and biz ops whiz Noah Goldner and pastry chef Stephanie Lau, Scream is a growing success. The company sells at 27 Bay Area farmers markets (see schedule), currently the only place you will find this specialty treat.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to a tasting, held at their shared kitchen space in Emeryville, to sample some of the current flavors: Tarocco Blood Orange, Cashew Carmel, Pistachio, Beet Lemon, Coconut Thai Basil and Brown Butter Chanterelle. Yes, you read that right. Mushroom sorbet. Mixed with browned butter (one of their only flavors to contain any dairy at all), sugar, salt and black pepper - I can't say it was my favorite flavor of the evening, but it was definitely interesting... and others loved it.
And this comes to the crux of Nathan's philosophy... the real driving vision behind Scream.
According to Nathan, building a successful dessert company is not about making a flavor that most people will like... what he calls the "least common denominator" philosophy that plagues much of the food industry. Rather, the founders of Scream want to make unique flavors that, while they may not appeal to all, will each have an audience that absolutely loves them.
Nathan points to their pistachio flavor as an example.
"Not everyone loves pistachio, " he says. "And for those who don't, this isn't the Scream flavor for you. But for those who do, I want this to be the best pistachio dessert you have ever tasted. It's incredible. And for others, we hope to have another flavor that will do the same for you."
With more than 60 to choose from, that shouldn't be hard!
A retail store on Telegraph Avenue, fittingly in the heart of Temescal's Gourmet Ghetto, is slated for later this spring. But until then, if you want to get your hands on a scoop, or a quart to share with friends and family, you'll have to high-tail it to one of Scream's local farmers markets. It might require a bit of effort, and will set your wallet back a few bucks too (these ingredients don't come cheap), but it's worth it.
Each market booth is stocked with six flavors... and we're not talking your basic lemon, strawberry, etc. Flavors rotate weekly, chosen only after scouring local markets for the best organic seasonal produce available.
Current availability includes Lime Mint (one of my favorites!), Meyer Lemon, Bergamot Almond, Rasperry Walnut, Oro Blanco Grapefruit and Chocolate Almond is coming soon.
NOTE: This is one in a series on local food entrepreneurs--if you have a small business you think Oakland Local should highlight-please get in touch, firstname.lastname@example.org.