(Also read Part 2 from August 2011. I've been back many times since. One of my highest recommendations ever!)
Salt & Straw Ice Cream is an ice cream food cart on NE Alberta St. in Portland, Oregon. While they have only been open for about four weeks (as of the time of this writing), their unique (yet limited) selection of ice creams and sorbets have gotten rave reviews from customers.
In order to give a true rating, I sampled all the flavors:
|Menu on 6/24/11
Honey Balsamic Strawberry w/Cracked Black Pepper: To me, this was one of the more intriguing flavors on the menu. The strawberry flavor hit right away, along with the sweetness of the honey. I did not see or get too much of the black pepper taste, although there may have been a hint of peppery bite on the back of my throat after swallowing. I also found out that black pepper (or even white peppercorns and pink peppercorns) is used in European cuisine to elevate ice cream to another level. Hey, foodies like me learn new things just about every day!
Pear w/Blue Cheese: I was the most nervous on this one because I don't care for blue cheese. But here, the a milder blue cheese was likely used, and when that is paired with pears, sugar, and cream, the strength of that blue cheese is really masked here. The pear flavor is also front and center.
Brown Ale w/Bacon: Beer and bacon in ice cream? That actually sounds real good to me. However here, I didn't care much for it. The bacon flavor was there, but a weak flavor at that. I got the taste of the beer, but it was also pretty faint. Probably the least favorite of the bunch, only because I expected bursting flavors.
Sea Salt w/Caramel Ribbons: A popular Salt & Straw flavor, and definitely one of my favorites. The salty ice cream combines so well with the sweet caramel. It's also just a lovely ice cream in appearance. If you think it sounds weird or unappetizing, try it and then tell me your thoughts.
Almond Brittle w/Salted Ganache: Another take on the salty-sweet combination, but now we add nuttiness to the dance using almonds! Basically salted creamy chocolate with sweetened almond brittle ice cream. This is another winner.
Stumptown Coffee: Coffee ice cream? Yes indeed! As I've stated in other reviews, coffee ice cream of any sort is nothing new to me, as I grew up in Hawaii and ate Kona coffee ice cream like it was going out of style (thank my father for introducing me to that). For people who like coffee with cream and sugar, this may be the dessert for you. And even if you take coffee black (like me), it should still be a big hit.
Lemon Basil Sorbet: The lemon and the basil really come at you full-force on this one. I really loved the bits of basil that engulfed the batch here. The sour lemony taste combines with a peppery, almost menthol-like basil flavor in an oddly awesome way. And since it's a sorbet, it's amazingly light and refreshing.
I wanted something light this time around, so it was a no-brainer for me. Lemon Basil sorbet it is!
Salt & Straw Ice Cream will be opening up a shop later in the summer. I believe it was going to open around August 2011 at 2035 NE Alberta St. They will still be operating as a food cart until that point, and perhaps once they move into their shop, more flavors could emerge.
Update on 6/29/11 @ 10:23 a.m.: Serious Eats has done a fantastic review of Salt & Straw. Check it out!
If you're in Portland, Oregon, and in an adventurous mood, try Salt & Straw Ice Cream!