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Nieves Cinco de Mayo (artisan ice cream) update [Oakland and San Francisco]

Ruth Lafler Dec 14, 2007 04:43 PM

I stopped by Nieves Cinco de Mayo today -- it looks like he got another freezer case, as there are more ice cream flavors in the menu than I remember. The most exotic flavor was rose petal and I thought it was a good version but not something I would want a whole dish of. I ended up with pumpkin and pecan. The pumpkin was unspiced and tasted delightfully squash-y. The pecan wasn't as successful -- I don't think the ground nuts infused as well with the ice cream base, and I don't think he uses any "flavorings" in addition to the main ingredients that would have pulled it together. I also had a taste of my friend's jamaica sorbet, which was a lovely example of sweet-tangy-floral flavors.

Unlike many ice creams, these flavors don't hit you up-front, but really build on the finish as the ice cream melts away and just leaves its essence on your tongue. I think this is because his ice cream isn't made with cream or eggs, so there's no creamy buildup to mute the flavors. And because he uses whole ingredients, not artificial flavors or extracts, the flavors are pure, without any harsh or chemically overtones.

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Nieves Cinco de Mayo
3340 E 12th St, Oakland, CA 94601

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  1. rworange RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 14, 2007 05:31 PM

    "Unlike many ice creams, these flavors don't hit you up-front, but really build on the finish as the ice cream melts away and just leaves its essence on your tongue."

    That description is so on target. Often I find a taste isn't very representative of what a scoop will be. I got the rompompe which didn't taste like much in the beginning, but by the end of the scoop I was so into it.

    Has the bakery opened in that building yet?

    1 Reply
    1. re: rworange
      Ruth Lafler RE: rworange Dec 14, 2007 06:21 PM

      The bakery is still in the early construction stages. There's a really neat little shop tucked behind the ice cream guy that has craft-decorative items that are a cut (or two) above the usual, at prices I thought were reasonable for the quality.

    2. l
      linz RE: Ruth Lafler Dec 15, 2007 10:09 AM

      if he doesn't use cream OR eggs what is he using, just milk??

      1. rworange RE: Ruth Lafler Jan 6, 2008 07:29 PM

        The have added coffee which is WONDERFUL. Deep, strong coffee flavor and clean tastes.

        I also had the rose petal which I liked very much. They didn't over do the rose flavor. Like a lot of his ice creams it is one of those that is best appreciated eating a whole scoop.

        That jamaica is so good ... like a handfull of fresh snow flavored with jamaica.

        1. Melanie Wong RE: Ruth Lafler Jun 22, 2009 11:59 PM

          On this warm day, my visitor from the East Coast and I wound down at Nieves Cinco de Mayo. This was my first time there, and we were totally enchanted by the owner who kept offering taste and after taste. I loved the light and icy style here. I think Spence had the best combo: chongos zamoranos on the bottom and a scoop of hierba buena (spearmint) on top. I had tequila ice cream on the bottom and limon (lime) sorbet on top. A double scoop is $2.25. Other flavors of note that I enjoyed tasting were cafe (coffee and so good), rompope (egg nog), limoncrema (lemon ice cream), tecojote (hawthorne), rose petal (I found this a bit too sweet), arroz, mango sorbet, cherimoya, and that's all I can remember.

          1. hhc RE: Ruth Lafler Nov 1, 2009 04:53 PM

            I tried Pitaya (Dragon Fruit) today 11/1/09. $1.25 for a scoop. I found it light, a bit icey, & not very sweet w/ black crunchy seeds. Corn from a tiny taste from a friend was sweet & milky to me.

             
             
            1 Reply
            1. re: hhc
              cfarivar RE: hhc Nov 13, 2009 12:32 PM

              Love the Pitaya. I had mine with a scoop of rompope (egg nog) !

            2. b
              bigwheel042 RE: Ruth Lafler Jan 21, 2014 03:40 PM

              With little fanfare, NCM opened up a second location in SF. It's inside the Mission Meat Market building at 22nd/Mission.

              1. m
                Malcolm Ruthven RE: Ruth Lafler Jan 22, 2014 09:32 PM

                I'll ask the obvious question, which is how it it "ice cream" without cream?

                2 Replies
                1. re: Malcolm Ruthven
                  Ruth Lafler RE: Malcolm Ruthven Jan 23, 2014 11:36 AM

                  Well, technically it's not. It's ice milk. There's no reference to "cream" in the Spanish name. Here's John Birdsall's article about how it's made: http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland...

                  1. re: Ruth Lafler
                    grayelf RE: Ruth Lafler May 12, 2014 12:07 AM

                    Found this update thanks to a note on Chow! Delighted to know the wonderful nieves from Cinco de Mayo are available closer in -- wish I had seen this before our recent trip.

                    As Melanie notes above, the word for this delicious frozen treat, nieve, translates as snow, which makes sense when you taste them. They're like a cross between sherbet and gelato, but with stronger flavours, maybe. Hard to describe but easy to eat. I think my favourite was the strawberry, a flavour I eschew in more "usual" ice cream styles.

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