MOUNT BRAINFREEZE: Cool Moon's 10-scoop "The Real McCall." IMAGE: Vivianjohnson.com
Would Larry David of Curb Your Enthusiasm dub you a "sample abuser"—the person at an ice cream shop who samples a little of this, that and the other before ordering a simple scoop of vanilla? If so, this tally of 11 frosty treats should help you zero in on and start spoonin' up some of Portland's best, out-of-the-ordinary cold stuff this summer. From gelato and sorbetto to ice cream and frozen yogurt, this town's packed with all kinds of mouth-numbing, brain-freezing sweets.
# 1 FOR THE PACK ANIMALS
Entertaining a gaggle of small humans? Cool Moon’s “The Real McCall” ($17) is a platter of 10 scoops of housemade ice cream smothered in five sauces. Cool Moon doesn’t whip much air into its ice cream, so its cherry almond chip, peaches and cream, coffee crackle and other flavors are rich and creamy. Post-brain-freeze, lead the pack across the street for a sugar-high freak-out at Jamison Square fountain. 1105 NW Johnson St., 224-2021, coolmoonicecream.com.
#2 FOR THE COLD-HEARTED BAKERS
Some foods shouldn’t be mixed: Doritos and Turkey Gravy Jones Soda come to mind. But I’ll be damned if Alotto Gelato’s yellow cake with chocolate icing gelato ($2.95-$4.75) isn’t better than any birthday-candle-stabbed cake you’ve had all year. 931 NW 23rd Ave., 228-1709, alottogelato.biz.
#3 FOR THE PUCKER UPPERS
Although most fro-yo places offer the swirl (two flavors machine-blended), at Active Culture the plain-Jane original tart ($2.75; $3.75; $4.50) is what it’s about. It’s silky smooth with that winky zing of all respectable yogurts. Yes, there are toppings—blueberries, toffee, chocolate—but they just get in the way. 820 SE 8th Ave., 608-7742, activeculturepdx.com.
#4 FOR THE CLASSICALLY MINDED
At Mio Gelato, get the caramel or mascarpone gelato ($2.95-$4.85) for straightforward cold class or get both in an oh-so-Euro double-header cake cone. Other popular Mio flavors include amareno cherry, tiramisu, raspberry and rum raisin. 25 NW 11th Ave., 226-8002; 838 NW 23rd Ave., 241-9300; 1517 NE Brazee St., 288-4800, mio-gelato.com.
#5 FOR THE MORNING PEOPLE
Sugar-cereal fro-yo is in the house. Skinnidip has lots of tasty toppings, but the tiny, dense marshmallows reminiscent of Lucky Charms outshine them all. Get a cup of Skinni’s fruity fro-yo—the strawberry’s great ($3.50-$6.50)—topped with tiny marshmallows ($1), and channel Saturday morning cartoons through your tiny plastic shovel spoon. 2230 W Burnside St., 222-5230; 433 NW 10th Ave., 224-0704, myspace.com/skinnidipyogurt.
#6 FOR THE DISCRIMINATING DRUNKS
Pix Pâtisserie’s beer float is a wizardly froth of Rogue Chocolate Stout and housemade mocha ice cream ($7; add $1 for a beer back). The mocha may not be magic when eaten solo (made with cocoa powder and no eggs), but that’s because Pix’s Cheryl Wakerhauser had the float in mind (it melts and melds well) when crafting it. Another boozy Pix bubbler: Lindeman’s Framboise float ($9) with vanilla ice cream. 3402 SE Division St., 232-4407 and 3901 N Williams Ave., 282-6539, pixpatisserie.com.
#7 FOR THE DRUNKS WITH CHILD
The yogurt is segregated from booze at Tart so kids can lap up four flavors of tasty house fro-yo ($2-$6) while adults toast with micros and sparkling wines ($4-$5). Fave item in the topping case (50 cents-$1): chewy mochi (Japanese rice confections) are great with every flavor. 2128 SE Division St., 233-4333, tartpdx.com.
#8 FOR THE HISTORY BUFFS
All the ice cream—30-plus flavors—at old-school Roses Ice Cream is housemade in 6-gallon batches. The extra-rich (14 percent butterfat) chocolate peanut malted milkshake ($5) is so thick and tasty you’ll hardly breathe sucking it down. There’s also a regular 6 percent butterfat milkshake, but that’s like light bacon. The original Roses opened on Northeast Fremont Street in 1950 and this newest 2007 incarnation is just a few blocks away and owned by the children of Roses’ second owners. 5011 NE 42nd Ave., 256-3333.
#9 FOR THE FRUIT LOVERS
Portland’s Popsicle scene was sucky until Sol Pops. Since 2007, these Mexi-style paletas (Popsicles made with whole fruit) have dripped down hands and elbows at farmers markets around town. If it’s hot and you like tropical flavors, the mango-lime ($2-$2.50) is a vacation for your mouth. And then there’s the cucumber-jalapeño-lime, orange-lavender, coconut-agave and 25-plus more flavors. For now, suck on a Sol Pop at both ¿Por Qué No? locations as well as the Eastbank, PSU, Hollywood and King Farmers Markets. This summer they’ll roll out at several new restaurants, markets and co-ops in town. 1101 SE Division St., solpops.com.
#10 FOR THE SWEET-TOOTHED MUSIC FIEND
Legong, a tiny Indonesian-themed spot next to the St. Johns Twin Cinemas Pub, scoops up 10 flavors of Staccato Gelato, waffles and drinks along with the occasional all-ages music show. Recent obsession: a medium cup with a scoop of pistachio and a scoop of peanut butter chocolate fudge ($5.75). Musical instruments are all over the place, from a piano to an enormous wall-mounted gong. 8712 N Lombard St., 453-9025.
#11 FOR THE CHOCOHOLIC
Ice-filled coolers are crucial when you’re peddling meltable chocolates outdoors in the blazing sun, but Elizabeth Montes gave up the cold stuff when she opened her brick-and-mortar chocolate shop, Sahagún, in 2005. Last summer she brought ice back in a different incarnation—housemade De Vries 77 percent Costa Rican chocolate sorbet ($3). Get yourself a cup of what Montes describes as chilly pots de crème right now and until the sun don’t shine—a.k.a., the end of summer. 10 NW 16th Ave., 274-7065, sahagunchocolates.com.