Tuesday, October 25, 2011

From Meadow to Salt & Straw: Portland Ice Cream, Salt, Chocolate & More

On my last day in Portland, I spent the afternoon and early evening with my friend Gordon, another sake lover and overall good guy, and we made several interesting and tasty stops. One of our first stops was to The Meadow, an eclectic shop that sells fresh flowers, finishing salts, chocolates, bitters, wines, apertifs and accessories. Quite an interesting combination, and a clear allure to a food and wine lover such as I.

In the spring of 2006, Jennifer Turner Bitterman and Mark Bitterman founded The Meadow and in the fall of 2010, opened a second store in the West Village of New York City. Mark Bitterman is also the author of Salted: A Manifesto on the World's Most Essential Mineral, with Recipes (Ten Speed Press, October 2010). There is much more to salt than just shakers of salt & pepper, and this book goes into great detail.

A fine selection of bitters and apertifs, making this a fine destination for mixologists and cocktail lovers.

The wine selection contains plenty of smaller, more unique producers from all over the world. You will find some fine examples of Oregon wines, but also cool wines from Spain to France, and even some sake.

With two large wooden racks, you will find over 300 varieties of chocolate, mostly artisan brands, including Xocolatl de David, which makes not only a bacon & chocolate bar but also an incredible Parmigiano Reggiano & chocolate bar. If you love chocolate, this is a smorgasbord for your senses.

This store is a love affair to salt, with over 150 different salts, from large blocks of Himalayan salt to unique finishing salts from all over the world. The salts are available in a number of sizes, including small bottles which let you try out a variety of salts for a relatively low cost.  The variety is almost overwhelming but the staff can assist you and answer your questions. Cooks are going to really love all the choices, and I am sure you will come up with lots of ideas just perusing the shelves.

I purchased a few salts and some chocolate, though there was plenty more I wanted to buy as well. It is an intriguing store and highly recommended.

At the end of one of our Travel Oregon lunches, we enjoyed some Sea Salt Ice Cream with Caramel Ribbon. This creamy concoction was a heavenly blend of salt and sweet, and everyone really seemed to enjoy it. It had been made by Salt & Straw, and by coincidence, I later visited their store with Gordon, soon after my trip to The Meadow.

Salt & Straw just opened this summer, and is owned by cousins Kim and Tyler Malek. Kim used to work in marketing for Starbucks but had a dream to open an ice cream shop. I met Kim, who seemed very nice, and got to taste through their line-up of unique flavors.

Their website explains their ice cream concept: "Our ice cream is handmade in small-batches using only all-natural dairy with the best local, sustainable and organic ingredients Oregon has to offer, as well as imported flavors from small, handpicked farms and producers around the world. We start with local cream from Lochmead Dairy in Eugene, Oregon. All their cows were born right there on their third generation, family farm – so we know it's the highest quality we can get and super fresh. Our ice cream is made with 17% butterfat, very little air in the churn process, and a low sweetness level...so the flavors can really shine through!"

From this menu, you can see plenty of very appealing, and interesting flavors, and the prices are fairly reasonable for such hand-crafted ice cream. Overall, I was very impressed with the ice cream, which was creamy and with a nice blend of flavors. The simple Double Fold Vanilla delivered on a pure and tasty vanilla taste while the Honey Balsamic Strawberry with Black Pepper was an intriguing melange, and each ingredient was noticeable and complemented the others.

The Pear with Blue Cheese was one of my favorites, and I would have enjoyed it even without the pear pieces. We need more Blue Cheese ice cream! The Banana with Spicy Monkey Caramel & Walnuts was also one of my top choices, which was sweet but with a little kick to it. There were a couple flavors which I didn't care for, like the Honey Lavender, but that was only a matter of preference and not because they were not good.

If you are looking for delicious and more unique ice creams, then consider Salt & Straw.

Salt & Straw Ice Cream on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Saucy Siciliana said...

What a gorgeous place, I wished I were closer. I also use Himalayan salt, I found it in a health shop here in Rome. I am following you from across the ocean:) You have a lovely blog, it is really interesting.