Five years ago, Portland had no local ice cream to speak of.
Seems crazy, I know, but we even published an article about it. "The Big Chill
" bemoaned Portland's lack of house-made*
ice cream and concluded by telling Portlanders to drive to... Vancouver.
"Given this city's use of local products...it is surprising that a small, hand-produced ice cream hasn't happened in Portland yet," said chef Chris Israel (Gruner, Corazon) at the time.
Well, it happened. Only weeks later, Cool Moon
in the Pearl opened its doors to hoards of damp, squealing kiddies, serving them far better ice cream than they can appreciate or deserve. Something of a renaissance followed, and it wasn't just new scoop shops and trucks: restaurants, chocolate shops and bakeries all began literally churning out their own in-house products.
Now, you can't spit in this city without hitting a pint of ultra fatty organic ice cream, flavoured with locally slaughtered strawberries and bearing a too-precious letterpressed label.
You'll hear no complaints from us, though one wonders at how a city that's cold nine months out of the yearâand merely warm for the greater part of the other threeâcan sustain such a rapidly expanding ice cream ecosystem.
And yet, the bubble continues to grow. We expect at least three new Portland scoop shops to have opened by the end of summerâanother Salt & Straw
, a downtown Ruby Jewel
and newcomer What's the Scoop?
âand, we'll conservativly estimate, approximately 57 new froyo joints.
Because we called this forth, and to honor the very small window in which eating this stuff is seasonally justifiable, we have decided to spend July tasting our way through some of the finest frozen confections this city has to offer.
I could lie and say our time-peg is National Ice Cream Month
, but I didn't know that when I started working on this project, and refuse to endorse PR-created pseudo holidays.
Really, it's just an excuse for WW writers to eat dessert on the company dime. It won't be ice cream alone, we'll also be licking up gelato, shave ice, frozen yogurt, and anything else that is sweet and near-freezing. We will eat at a different store all 31 days of the month, and report back here.
For the most part, we're trying to focus on places that make their own products (read: the ones that don't serve Umpqua), though we will probably make a few exceptions for parlors that offer something else rare or unique. If your favorite ice cream joint meets this criteria, leave us a suggestion in the comments and we might swing by.
* Well, we called it "homemade," but as our current copy editors will tell youâwith a special withering look they teach people in copy editing schoolâcommercial cooks do not sell food prepared in their home kitchen; that's illegal.