As the market for ice cream has grown, so have niches for its frozen-dessert cousinsâincluding one from that most foreign-to-Portland of places: the East Coast. A born-and-bred Angeleno, I had never heard of Italian ice before visiting Oregon Ice Works, an âiceâ (and soup and sandwiches) food cart in Southeast Portland's D-Street Noshery pod. You just don't see the sorbet-like dish much here on the Best Coast. Oregon Ice Works owner/nice guy Kevin Bell makes me wish that weren't so: he takes the sweet treat he fondly remembers enjoying as a kid in Philadelphia and gives it a Portlander's artisan swirl. Whodathunk, from a native son of the city that gave us the cheesesteak?
Bell dreams up cool flavor combos for the cart's several rotating menu options, from peach lavender to strawberry cardamom. One of the two permanent flavors, though, remains my favorite: marionberry. Made from locally grown berries, organic cane sugar, lemon juice and water, it's quite sweetâbut not, as that ingredients list attests, artificially so. In fact, the cart's ices are delightfully natural; staining your tongue berry-red and getting seeds stuck in your teeth, they taste how summer feels.
UPDATE: Kevin Bell tweets to tell is that his Oregon Ice Works cart is sadly for sale so he can move on to new adventures, but that it will still be open every day until he finds a buyer. So go! Now!