Food & Drink: Dollops of joy

Fairfax Scoop guided by the seasons

Fairfax Scoop, founded in 2001, features new ice cream flavors every month. Photo by Tanya Henry.

by Tanya Henry

With the Honey Lavender flavor on his menu year-round, Fairfax Scoop’s owner Ray Martin depends on a local resident to supply as much of the fresh herb as she can grow. Bay Area beekeepers provide honey for the store’s most popular flavor, and Martin says that Petaluma’s Straus Family Creamery deserves a lot of credit for the superior quality of his ice cream.

For the uninitiated, Fairfax Scoop has, since 2001, been making what is arguably the Bay Area’s very best organic ice cream and sorbet. The small storefront at 63 Broadway Boulevard has been steadily cranking out 12 inspired flavors, many touting whimsical names including Buried Treasure, Love Parade and Latin Jazz. Marshall Melon and Tomales Strawberry denote where ingredients are sourced from, and every scoop of the small-batch ice cream is served in a cup or a crispy, chewy house-made waffle cone. It’s not uncommon to wait in line for as long as a half-hour for the coveted cones, which are incredibly fairly priced.

Martin, who grew up in Fairfax and had previously owned a restaurant in Walnut Creek, returned to Marin to raise his own family. He knew he didn’t want his work to be all-encompassing. “I like keeping it simple. I don’t necessarily buy into the American dream—I want to smell the flowers,” says Martin, who is a big proponent of mom-and-pop stores.

On Thursdays Martin goes to the Marin Civic Center Farmers’ Market to purchase seasonal fruits and herbs for his weekly flavors. He also depends on organic suppliers who deliver to his storefront, but he supports nearby farmers and growers as much as he can.

“There is always something happening—something new every month,” says Martin, who looks to the seasons for his flavors. Right now, peaches, blackberries and nectarines have found their way onto his menu. There will be pumpkins in October, pomegranates in November and Meyer lemons and other citrus at their peak in the winter.

With summer coming to an end, Martin will see a big drop in business, and by winter his sales will be half of what they are in the summer. Typically he closes at the end of December and his family takes a lengthy trip out of town. He likes it that way—he has little interest in opening more stores or selling his product to additional retailers. Instead, he likes riding his bike the half-mile to work—and smelling the flowers along the way.

Fairfax Scoop; 63 Broadway Blvd., Fairfax; 415/453-3130.

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