Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Post 121: Portland - Salt & Straw Offers Ice Cream of All Kinds (Portland: Northwest/Alphabet)

I love ice cream... all kinds of ice cream.  From the simple strawberry by Haagen Dazs to the ghastly garlic ice cream from The Stinking Rose, I love them all.  Some of the creative flavors that the chefs from Iron Chef America put together even seem intriguing to me.  I'm down to get away from plain Jane vanilla, and I'm constantly on a quest for a nutty chocolate flavor that can top that dollar scoop of Thrifty rocky road.  Really, it's the best.  While in Portlandia, we visited Salt & Straw, an ice cream shop on bustling Northwest 23rd that serves anything but ordinary flavors.  In fact, it was even featured on an episode of Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.  But ice cream... how bizarre can it get?

Well, if it's from Portland, it can get pretty weird.  After all, as Portland residents always say, "Keep Portland weird."  And if it can be done with ice cream, then it shall be done.  From Brown Butter Popcorn with Pink Peppercorns to Pear with Blue Cheese, Salt & Straw offers it all.  And yes, there is a Double Fold Vanilla for those who are a bit more traditionalist when it comes to dessert.

There were quite a few people waiting for the all natural, organic, local Oregon ice cream offered in 15 different flavors.  Everyone in line tasted samples of as many flavors as possible.  Many of the flavors were creative, whimsical, even unimaginable... I mean, Aquabeet-Kroqstad Aquavit and Oregon Beets? What in the world is that?

The best way to try them all is to get the tasting flight and share.  Four scoops, two spoons, nine dollars, unlimited possibilities.  Okay, well, there are a limited number of combinations, but who's going to do the math? Writer here... not a mathematician. 

The first flavor we chose was the Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper.  If whimsical is what is desired, then this is the one.  Strawberry... good.  Honey... good.  Balsamic... good.  Black pepper... good.  Put it all together... what am I eating? My brain couldn't figure it out, but it was so delicious.  And in just a few bites, it was over way too soon.

We also tried Almond Brittle w/ Salted Ganache.  Ah, so good.  The subtly sweet and salty combination was to die for... and I just loved the expected crunch from the almond brittle.  It's shake-my-head good.

Another one we tried was the Coffee & Bourbon.  A little extra drizzle of chocolate on top wouldn't have hurt, but this was already a good way to get in an afternoon caffeine kick.

Here is the ice cream that made no sense but so much sense at the same time.  Our final scoop on the flight of four flavors was the Chef Series of Ox-Foie S'mores, a house vanilla with hazelnut graham crumble swirled in with foie gras, s'mores, and veal stock fudge sauce.  Finally, foie gras, we meet again... but in ice cream.  That made no sense at all.  But combined with s'mores and fudge sauce, all of which are extremely rich flavors, this flavor combination didn't seem as bizarre anymore.  The fatty richness blended together in a complex yet fitting way, but I was more than glad that a few spoonfuls is all it took to finish this insanely decadent dairy dessert.

There is only so much ice cream that anyone can eat in one sitting before becoming sick, so that only means that I'll be back again to try all those seasonal flavors that I missed this time.  The Malted Plum and Horchata Sorbet do sound great on a warm summer day.

The next post will be the final in this first series of Portland eats.  Until then, let's all get S.O.F.A.T.

ML - 20120915

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