I like Berthillon. I like getting a scoop in coffee, or basil en pot to enjoy at the side of the river, my legs dangling off the bridge. My idea of a perfect Saturday evening is walking to l'Institut du monde arabe, forcing a stranger to photograph me on the panoramic terrace, then heading to Berthillon and queuing thirty minutes for chilled delicacies. It's not my favorite ice cream place in Paris, though. My absolute favorite is Scaramouche.
Named for the stock clown character from commedia dell'arte, it's the kind of ice cream Thomas Jefferson might tweet about, and King Charles I would pay to keep secret. There is no Superman, no cloyingly sweet artificial strawberry, or fake vanilla in sight. Dubbed the best glacier in the Luberon, Scaramouche captures the biodiversity of the region, with flavors like rosemary, olive oil, and 1001 Nuits, a Raz El hanout-spiked ice cream.
This time, I tried basil, which has ribbons of herbs in every scoop. My favorite is geranium, an Iranian recipe containing pistachios. The Luberon truffle is surprisingly sweet, with actual chunks of ectomichorrhizal fungi throughout. Each flavor is all-natural, no artificial colors or added sweeteners. The lavender is delicate and appealingly white, like a Rodin sculpture. The mint green tea is milky and bronze.
Down the street from Abbesses, Scaramouche looks like it sprang straight from Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont's imagination, and you are its' bookish, misunderstood heroine with Stockholm syndrome and a predilection for anthropomorphized household goods. In the time it takes me to finish a bowl of ice cream (like, five minutes), no less than seven neighbors came by to chat with the man behind the counter. At first, he asked if I wanted two boule, and politely concealed disgust when I announced, "No, I'll take four." The scoops are consistently generous; they'd sate any American worth his weight in everything bagels.
D'habitude, the line extends down the street. Yesterday, though, two women from Staten Island sat in empty chairs next to me. "I don't want any ice cream, but if I don't sit somewhere right now, I'll die," one said, huffing and puffing after exploring Montmartre. The Scaramouche team smiled and let them rest, asking about their visit, offering advice on what to see and do in Paris. The owner's wife is from New York, they explained, so the ladies could stay as long as they'd like (they were talking about Elizabeth Bard, author of Picnic in Provence). The Americans asked where I was from, and we talked twenty minutes before I went down the street to Le mur des je t'aime.
22 Rue la Vieuville
75018 ParisOpen T-W-Th-Sunday, 14h-20h30