Ah, ice cream, my first love. OK, it's a tie between red meat and ice cream.....
As a writer for bePortland.com, I've had the honor to speak with a few of Portland's premier ice cream purveyors. All in the name of journalism, of course. Earlier this month I had the good fortune to join Salt & Straw for their sneak preview for the new store launch. You may have seen my previous entry featuring Kim's cart of fabulous scoops, but now, behold, a whole shop full of dairy (and some non-dairy) goodness!
Just up the road from the mobile cart on NE Alberta, I step into Salt & Straw's new scoop shop - and into my new happy place. Immediately I am approached by a staffer cheerfully waiving a delicious ice cream concoction in front of me. “Would you like to try our Thai Sticky Rice sundae? Be sure to scoop through all of the layers; there’s sweet sticky rice on the bottom, pineapple, and these are cinnamon croutons” She says, pointing to the cookie-like cubes sprinkled on top. I dig in. I never imagined I’d be eating an ice cream sundae with rice. It works. It’s delicious! And of course, it’s all natural, and made with local ingredients. The sweet sticky rice is Pok Pok’s creation. So is the honey drinking vinegar used in Salt & Straw’s Honey Vinegar Milkshake, which I also wolfed right down. In the most wonderful way, it was like the best tasting sour milk I’d ever tasted. Sweet, tangy, and surprisingly addicting.
If these flavor combinations strike you as a little odd, get over it, because they totally work. As does the Three Berry BBQ ice cream, made with Oregon Marionberries, Raspberries, Huckleberries, and yes, actual BBQ sauce. Reminiscent of a raspberry chipotle sauce, this is something I want to dip my french-fries in, or slather on a chicken wing! I’m content to eat it on a cone as well, as this flavor is growing on me lick by lick. If you’re not a fan of the dairy, there is always the summery Lemon Basil Sorbet, with Oregon basil fresh from the farmers market. Or choose from an array of dessert bars, cookies, and other snacks. Glancing around, I see more and more diversity in the menu – and the décor.
Kim and her team created a space for folks to sit and mingle; meet over an ice cream cone, or a float, or a shake. Loads of antique dairy paraphernalia lines the shelves. Weathered milk barrels and crates show the inspiration behind the name, Salt & Straw …. Describing the old time method of churning ice cream that Kim herself employs. Have a seat in a vintage chair and gaze at local artist Neil Perry’s work. Specially commissioned for Salt & Straw, his Saccharine Lands series lifts you into yet another dream world of sugar and cream. The partnership was a natural fit, as his love affair with sugar melds so well with Kim’s sweet creations.
As I make my way to the door, Kim stops me short. “Have you seen the bathroom yet? She asks as she ushers me that direction. Kim works with a local picker to achieve Salt & Straws rustic, vintage image. The wall paper was made especially for this bathroom – from vintage Portland postcards – Kim’s find at an estate sale. Another reason to sit and stay awhile at this ice cream joint that gets more and more endearing by the minute.
I eventually do depart, with more than my fill of ice cream in my belly. Neil Perry, Kim, my first love, too, was sugar.
Salt & Straw
2035 NE Alberta
Portland, OR 9721
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