Day 25 of our month-long ice cream crawl, Scoops' out for Summer, we visit a shop worth crossing state lines for.
Ice Cream Renaissance
1925 Main St. Vancouver, Washington, 360-694-3892, icecreamrenaissance.com.
Price per scoop: $3
Most popular flavors: Honey vanilla and Peanut Butter Blitz
The person in front of me: A nuclear family with two elementary-age children.
Best for: Portlanders who love ice cream enough to cross a totally-sufficient bridge to get the best in the metro area.
How long before one of your friends ironically buys a house in Vancouver? We mock it mercilessly, but the town's got good bones. A downtown of old brick buildings, lax liquor laws and, according to Sunday's Columbian, plans to clean up the 68 toxic waste sites in Clark County.
Also: Great ice cream. Really great ice cream.
Vancouver's Ice Cream Renaissance has been scooping out artisan ice cream for a decade, back when folks this side of the river were still celebrating the arrival of Cold Stone Creamery. It sits on Main Street—if you're in Vancouver on a weekend afternoon, just drive toward the business that's open—and looks exactly how you'd expect Vancouver's hippest dessertery to look.
Renaissance is decorated a little like tax scofflaw's McMansion, with gas fireplace, plastic tables painted to look like marble and ornate mirrors. Edward Sharpe's "Home" plays over the speakers. On the walls is artwork drawn by schoolchildren from Hockinson High (Home of the Hockinson Hawks) depicting of a favorite food. One has drawn a McDonald's burger and fries in front of the golden arches; another a stack of pancakes.
The Renaissance's bowls are wonderful, though. They're huge, for starters. Instead of jabbing out a scraping, Renaissance scoops out giant round globes in a square bowl. The base ice cream is as smooth as you'll find outside What's The Scoop?'s nitrogen-frozen bowls with a gentle but reassuring sweetness.
I really enjoyed scoops of vanilla honey and malty-marsh, but decided to ask for the highly unorthodox reverse sample after finishing my bowl. I was immediately filled with regret about my previous order: The bittersweet chocolate love affair is magic in a bowl. The intense flavor reminds me of Ghirardelli's 86 percent cacao bar, but better. The stout bitterness channels high-grade chocolate, balanced by smooth and milky ice cream. Holey moley, mi-oh-mi.
Ahh, home. Let me come home.
Day 23: Organic Island Snow Shave Ice
Day 22: Via Delizia
Day 21: Cloud City Ice Cream
Day 20: Scoop
Day 19: Cool Moon Ice Cream
Day 18: Salt & Straw
Day 17: 50 Licks
Day 16: Pix Patisserie
Day 15: Caffe Pallino
Day 14: Alotto Gelato
Day 13: YoCream
Day 12: Ruby Jewel
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?