It’s as if I’ve taken an oath. A covenant shared amongst my foodie brothers and sisters to pursue unique foods, interesting techniques, and creative combinations of ingredients—for the betterment of the world of course. It’s this promise us self-professed gourmands have made—a burden we gladly bare, so we can publish tweets laden with mouthwatering foodporn and epicurean adventures worth telling.
It’s how food evolves. It’s how we learn. A chef follows a map (aka a recipe) to a treasure, but sometimes they’ll tweak the directions in some way, causing them to stumble upon some better bounty—a new twist. Trying chicken instead of beef in your bourguignon, or Greek yogurt instead of heavy cream in a pound cake to see if that tang is all it’s cracked up to be. Where do you think maple bacon anything came from? Thinking outside the box, CSA or any other kind, makes for a food world filled with endless possibilities.
It’s this continuous curiosity that keeps me up at night. This need to try something new, this perpetual search for the “best” of what I can put in my mouth [yes, out of context that sounds awkward]. This need is why I’m sometimes the one ordering the less than popular dishes, or, as Jonathan likes to say, “the wrong dishes.” Like the time we were at Thomas Sweets in Georgetown. Of all the 50 flavors and toppings to choose from, I went with the double scoop of rum raisin and spumoni. I’m thinking an ice cream shop that’s become an institution in our nation’s capitol isn’t serving up flavors like rum raisin and spumoni unless they’re awesome. Because if they’re not, who would order them? Besides, I’ve enjoyed a good rum raisin dessert or candy in the past, and I know I’ve liked spumoni before with its quasi cherry-almond extract flavors and funny Italian name. But Jonathan was the opposite. He was selfish and rather than take one for the team, he ordered his chocolate ice cream with Reese’s peanut butter cups on top. It could have easily been a scoop of cookies and cream with chocolate shavings too. He only “tastes” the strange flavors, feigning interest in the adventure of an entire scoop of something outside his comfort zone, and then he ends up ordering full scoops of what he knows he’ll like.
“Why take a chance?” he says, “I know what I like.”
“But how do you know you don’t like spumoni more if you don’t try it?” I ask.
What’s wrong with chocolate and peanut butter you ask? That’s just it, nothing! We all know it’s amazing, but ordering it doesn’t perpetuate discovery, an important trait to employ in life if you ask me.
As much as it makes me cringe to say this, Jonathan was right this one time. His ice cream, which was enough for two people (or three little people) was much better than my crazy combination. And I did something I’m not very proud of—I tossed out my ice cream before it was finished. But at least I knew I’d made a contribution to our community. I checked the box and now know I’ve had rum raisin and spumoni ice cream, and it’s not a combination worth revisiting.
Salt & Straw in Portland
We had an hour to kill until our table at Pok Pok was ready. So naturally, I suggested we explore the neighborhood and burn some calories before we ingest a bunch. It hadn’t been two minutes before we stumbled on Salt & Straw half a block down and across the street. This local creamery has a few locations around Portland and they use nothing but Oregon’s best ingredients for their ice cream: fresh fruit, milk, aromatics, homemade jams, cookies, and more.
The smell of fresh baked waffle cones drew us near and then the a-frame sidewalk sign sealed the deal Goat Cheese with Marionberry and Habanero ice cream. Yum!
“Finally!” I shouted like a little girl after taking a hit from a helium balloon. We’d found other food-obsessed brothers and sisters who seem to revel in the crazy curveballs they throw when it comes to ice cream scoops. Sure they have some of the boring flavors that are always good and probably satisfy the lowest common denominator. But I’m an outlier! I’m one of the few kids growing up who actually liked the unnatural looking aquamarine Daiquiri Ice sorbet at Baskin Robbins. My best friend Barry liked it too, but I really do think we were the only two in all of San Diego.
After trying almost every flavor on the chalkboard, which the staff almost encouraged, I was more lost than when we’d started. Everything was delicious, and everything seemed so different. But what flavors are gonna make the cut and which aren’t?
I glanced at Jonathan with that can-we-each-order-double-scoops-with-two-different-flavors-each look.
“No!” he said, cutting me off before I could beg, “we’re about to have lunch.”
Seeing the sweat drivel at the corner of mouth, the hipster girl behind the counter took pity on me and recommended we do the sampler—four scoops of ice cream. So we did…..and I was happy….and all was right in the world again.
We got the goat cheese with Marionberry and habanero
The Stumptown coffee and bourbon
The strawberry with cilantro lime cheesecake
And the Birthday cake with black berries and rainbow sprinkles.
And it was amazing! The flavors I tried but that we didn’t get scoops of were the pear with blue cheese, and the honey balsamic strawberry with cracked black pepper. So good!