After a whole summer spent lamenting the lack of a real old-fashioned ice cream shop, Portlanders welcomed the Pearl District's Cool Moon Ice Cream, which finally opened its doors in mid-December. Serving all-natural ice cream and sorbets, you won't find corn sweeteners or trans fats here. Plus, the rBST-free milk and cream is from local Alpenrose Dairy. If you've been wondering where to find fresh ice cream—not gelato or fro-yo—look no further. This is the real stuff—an egg-based, French "custard-style" ice cream that lingers on your tongue, leaving a sweet, creamy coating on your lips, something not often achieved from eating store-bought or mass-produced ice cream.
Flavors ($2.85 per single scoop) vary according to season and whim. Recent standouts ranged from a coffee caramel that delivered a bold hit of fresh java offset by a fluid ribbon of buttery caramel to an earthy, vanilla-based brandied nutmeg and an amaretto crunch (vanilla blended with almond-anise biscotti). A twist on an old standby comes in the form of butter pistachio (instead of pecan), and the green nut makes another appearance, scrumptiously, in cardamom pistachio. Coco Loco is fresh coconut with a surprisingly agreeable nip of jalapeño. A mellow and unobtrusive cinnamon ice cream creates an ideal pairing with almost any of the store's rotating 28 options, including the handful of changing fruit flavors (from Oregon marionberry and triple lemon ice creams to refreshing grapefruit Campari sorbet). If you prefer your sweet licks old school, fear not: Mint chocolate chip, strawberry and, of course, rich vanilla bean and chocolate are staples in the rotating lineup.
The notion of an ice cream shop right on Jamison Square might be the biggest retail "no duh" of the year; this will be the spot to be for the under-10 set as the days grow warmer. Not that ice cream is the exclusive provenance of youth, of course. Owner and self-described "ice cream queen" Eva Bernhard has set up a shop that is light-filled and cheerily accented in splashes of bright green and orange, and earns eco-bonus points for her use of glass dishes and stainless steel spoons in lieu of paper and plastic. Grown-ups can pair their scoops with organic coffee or espresso from Olympia, Wash.'s Batdorf & Bronson.
Signature floats ($5.50) include the "Fred and Ginger," made with spicy natural ginger beer and lemon ice cream, and the "Clyde and Millie"—fresh mint chocolate chip ice cream, chocolate syrup and club soda. Design your own sundae (about $4) or banana split with homemade caramel, strawberry, pineapple and semi-sweet chocolate sauces.
Cool Moon's staff make all the ice cream flavors on site—spy on them through the plate-glass windows of the adjacent storefront. Even better, contact the store to inquire about school field trips. Just make sure you sign a permission slip for yourself—you don't want to miss out on these flavors.
Cool Moon Ice Cream, 1105 NW Johnson St., 224-2021,
coolmoonicecream.com. Open 10 am-10 pm daily. $ Inexpensive.