Summertime is allllll about ICE CREAM. Icy, thick, creamy, sugar-laced dessert. I know that people gush a ton about Salt & Straw–just scrolling down Instagram is proof–but there are lots of other great gems here in Portland! There’s the renowned Tillamook Cheese Factory that praises milk like no other, for example, nearer the coast–their ice cream is fresh and true to the heart of the Pacific Northwest. And recently I hit up Cool Moon, which is tucked away in the Pearl District and right across from the Jamison Square Park.
Cool Moon keeps it old school with classy flavors, but it also includes a bunch of rambunctious ones that don’t nearly go as bonkers as Salt & Straw. There’s a Kulfi flavor with pistachio, rose, and cardamom as well as a cardinal zin swirled with wine, bittersweet chocolate, and balsamic vinegar. Then there’s vanilla and Belgian chocolate. But all these have indulgence and excellent quality in common.
However, the flavor that really caught my eye was Thai tea. I’m a big coffee and tea fanatic, and lately I’ve come to appreciate Asia’s spin on those things. For example, Vietnamese coffee is perhaps the most extravagantly bold yet rich drink I’ve ever had–a super concentrated brew (almost aggressive to me) swirled with condensed milk to that’ll keep you awake even when you need to pull multiple all-nighters for that lab paper.
Thai tea similarly employs such a mix, with an orange-hued black tea that produces a brilliant, dark tangerine color when infused with condensed milk. I’d say that the boldness is a little bit subtler. Still, this combination of strong flavor with creamy sweetness produces a delicious, caffeinated drink that I’d recommend to any bleary-eyed college student.
I tried a sample of Thai tea ice cream in New York at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory, but all I tasted was sugary cream; the tea was rather absent. So I hesitated to try Cool Moon’s version, but I was much gratified to discover that there were pleasant notes of the tea flavor in the ice cream that didn’t get lost in the sweetness. There was just enough hint of it to reassure me, and a micro scoop of this beauty was a perfect companion for a stroll in the streets.
Stages of ice cream consumption: