Skip to Navigation Skip to Content

Best in Show? Scream Sorbet Ups the Ante

In the ongoing icecreaming of San Francisco, a new(ish) contender has entered the ring: Scream Sorbet, which shows up only at the Thursday Ferry Plaza Farmers Market. Oddly, the sorbet company, which sells at about every market in the Bay Area, started by Nathan Kurz, hasn't received a ton of attention since launching in 2008—or at least the press they deserve. So I'm going to give it to them right here and now.

I stopped by their tiny booth (located on the not-as-swarmed side of the Ferry Plaza market) last week after hearing tales of their delicious Anaheim chile sorbet. I got a taste of the cashew-caramel and the Concord grape (the two together make for a pb&j flavor), as well as the sweet potato made with coconut milk. Although, with rare buttermilk exception, none of Scream's sorbets have any dairy or eggs in them, you wouldn't know it. They're rich with flavor, perfectly in balance (which isn't always the case when chefs try to mix it up a bit with less than typical flavors) and more than anything have a texture that is absolutely perfect.

I called up Nathan this morning to get the scoop:

So why did you choose to make sorbet instead of ice cream? Are you allergic to dairy?
No, I just really like sorbets and no one was focusing on them. My partners, Noah Goldner and Stephanie Lao, and I all eat gelato and ice cream too.

What did you do before this?
I'm a tech refugee with a strong interest in food. But I'd never cooked professionally.

What's the key to the texture?
The Pacojet. Part of the reason I started this business is because I wanted to figure out a way to justify having a Pacojet, which is a frozen food processor. It's a neat kitchen cult item—one of those molecular gastronomy items to lust after. The French Laundry and Manresa have one. It kind of emulsifies the sorbet base—they call it Paco-tizing. [Kurz then goes on at too fast of a clip for me to keep track about things like two microns, smaller than human hairs …] The machines cost $4,000 and we have five.

What are your fall flavors?
We've been working on some Thanksgiving ones, such as pear-cranberry and pecan praline.

Biggest flavor failure?
One that we actually sold was Hodo Soy soy milk with kabocha squash from Happy Boy farms. Then, one that never made it was black radish, a cool dark purple, that scratched all the way down your throat.

You're opening a retail space in Oakland. When will we see that?
Hopefully by the end of the year.