As fans of the artisanal-ingredient groundswell, we're excited when we see several such products appear en masse.
One of the best ways to group emerging culinary talent is not on the shelf or on a menu but in the pint. The offerings of new Portland, Oregon-based ice cream cart Salt & Straw read like our dream pantry--if that pantry were suspended in frozen cream.
In our favorite flavor, ribbons of strawberry puree engage in a syrupy call-and-response with honey-balsamic vinegar from Honey Ridge Farms, where a third-generation beekeeper tends the hives. Each spoonful is rounded out with the warm notes of Pohnpei pepper, imported locally. As we finished off the pint, we couldn't help but think of different ways to incorporate the flavors into savory cooking.
Equally inspiring is the pear-and-blue-cheese flavor, a study in subtlety. The blue cheese (click here to buy), which comes from Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon, is barely assertive, adding only a small peak of saltiness.
Salt & Straw has a storefront in Portland, but the ice cream is currently for sale online as well. It's a serious commitment for dessert--$65 for five pints--but worth it for the pantry-stocking fodder it inspires.