Soft Serve For Your Hardened Heart

There's no wrong time for soft serve, so we'll just leave this here.

September 15, 2017 ● 2 min read

CF Staff | image ser_igor via iStock, Collage and GIF ChefsFeed

A marvelous sight at San Francisco's RT Rotisserie, where the soft serve is maddeningly good. Seriously. We see you Chef Sarah Rich.

Soft serve, as they say, is having a "moment."

Question: was soft serve ever not having a moment? Legend has it that soft serve was invented by ice cream magnate Tom Carvel, whose ice cream truck suffered a flat tire on a hot holiday weekend in 1934. Carvel pulled over and decided to serve his now melting stock of frozen treats to people driving by. You can probably take a guess based on the number of soft serve spots dotting your city that it worked out okay. Even on the purported first day of its commercialized existence, it was popular. (Of course, the soft serve place of your youth, Dairy Queen, also claims to have invented it. Potato, potatoh.) 

Soft serve is the tangible equivalent of a sweet spot: it's ice cream for people who like ice cream but also kind of wish it was sorbet. Even cold days can be improved by soft serve, but of course, it's best consumed when the sun warms the back of your legs just right and there's no hint of clouds anywhere. BE GONE, CLOUDS.

In NYC, make like Chef Didier Elena, and head to OddFellows Ice Cream Co. for a rotating roster of seasonal favorites. Or, if you ride for the iconic: Big Gay Ice Cream Shop, or Momofuku Milk Bar—now available everywhere you might crave it, as Chef Lisa Nakamura recently found out while on a trip to Toronto. In Northern California, it's all about the street windows: hit Bi-Rite Creamery on 18th Street after spaghetti at Delfina, or chase some of the best yakitori in downtown Napa with the outrageous flavors—hellllloooo black sesame and caramelized banana—at Miminashi. (The toppings game here is strong too—everything from rainbow sprinkles to sesame honeycomb candy and chocolate covered waffle pieces.) In classic Los Angeles fashion, head to Tea Master Matcha Café for their emerald twists. In Detroit, locals go crazy for the Motown Twist at Detroit Water Ice—soft serve on the bottom, water ice (think a cross between Hawaiian shave ice and Italian ices) in the middle, soft serve on top. Soft serve sandwich, you guys. For flavor purists, copy Chef Robert Belcham and grab the Tahitian vanilla with caramelized white chocolate sprinkles at Vancouver's Campagnolo.