In today's instalment of our 31-day ice cream binge, Scoops' out for Summer, we finally come off the sugar high.
3713 N Mississippi Ave., 505-9314, rubyjewel.net.
Price per scoop: $3
Most popular flavor: Caramel with salted dark chocolate
The people in front of me: Young Portland transplants trying to show their visiting parents Portland isn't being kept that weird
Best for: Dates with vanilla people
My first visit to the Mississippi Avenue storefront of local ice cream maker Ruby Jewel was cut short when the friend I had come with, Chloe, had an allergic reaction.
Well, not an allergic reaction, exactly—more like a psychosomatic one. And not to lactose or peanuts, but to the photos of a little girl and a labrador retriever on the store's wall.
There we are, eating our ice cream—happily, or so I think—when Chloe, looking as though she's having a PTSD flashback, tells me we have to leave: The pictures, and the store as a whole, she pleads, are cloyingly sweet. So, we leave; I proceed to make fun of her for several months.
Chloe returned to Ruby Jewel with me recently, agreeing to face the store's saccharine grotesquerie once more for the purposes of this assignment and the glamor of being mentioned by first name on the blog of this free, midsize-market newspaper. Since our last visit, she has developed a love-to-hate relationship with the shop, and on this recent trip she is delightfully bitchy, declaring the people waiting in the long line to be “idiots,” the music playlist offensively “inoffensive” and the decor “tacky.” The coup de grace comes when she asserts that the retriever in the photos, Purina-photogenic and adorably stealing a lick from the little girl's ice-cream cone, is “not even that cute.”
Hyperbolic and increasingly indiscriminate though her criticisms may be, I think Chloe's got a point: Ruby Jewel's ambience sort of exemplifies the recent Pearlification of Mississippi—but not so much as, say, a Cold Stone, so I'll count my blessings. Besides, the company's small-batch, locally made ice cream, which founder Lisa Herlinger-Esco has been selling in ice-cream-sandwich form since 2004, is inarguably good. Ruby Jewel's best-loved flavor, caramel with salted dark chocolate, features an exquisitely unresolved tension twixt salty and sweet, relieved only by cacao-rich chunks of dark chocolate with the density of fudge.
Sure, I could leave the cutesy-poo store. But the rich, genuine-tasting and just plain tasty ice cream? I'll take that—a double scoop, please.
Day 11: The Waffle Window
Day 10: Alma Chocolate
Day 9: j. Gelati
Day 6: Cool Harry's Yogurt
Day 5: Ohana Hawaiian Cafe
Day 4: Roses Ice Cream
Day 2: Oregon Ice Works
Day 1: What's the Scoop?