It's not summer until you've chased the ice cream drips around your waffle cone while sitting in a park on an 80-degree day. Two scoops followed by an ice-water chaser is the quintessential summer food experience. It's a sticky, velvety moment of comfort and happiness. It's a drug. And depending on your dealer, it can be transcendent.
From now on, my dealer will be Cool Moon Ice Cream Company on NW Johnson and 11th, across from kid-littered Jameson Square. Their location couldn't be better. Opened since December of 2007, the kind folks at Cool Moon haven't yet felt the full brunt of summer demand for their creamy concoctions, but they most assuredly will as the temperature creeps skyward. It might get a bit crowded in the bright confines of Cool Moon as children clamber in front of the cooler to ogle at the spectrum of flavors. Combine ogling with unlimited tasting and you'll be tempted to sweep the tykes aside to assuage your cravings. Just like a real addict.
But let's not deny the children their fun. Cool Moon's offerings—the chocolate sorbet that goes down like soft frozen fudge, for example—are well worth the wait. The ice cream is house-made by the owners, concocted out of seasonal ingredients from constant tinkering in a back-room ice cream lab—a clean and cheerier version of a cocaine refinery.
Cool Moon has all the obligatory parlor tricks, like floats, shakes, and sundaes, but they're only as good as the ice cream with which they're made. And here, they are extraordinary.
Right now seasonal strawberry ice cream is particularly flavorful. Rich and soft, in the mouth it's cold velvet, with just enough berry bits to let you know where it came from.
Strawberry is one of the less adventurous flavors on the menu board, which includes "Lime in Da Coconut," citrus pistachio, and ginger chai, among 22 others. The best of the more esoteric selections is "Saffron Sunshine." This ingenious scoop has deep buttery flavor reminiscent of Persian rice pudding, a result of saffron and hints of pistachio.
Saffron Sunshine is well suited to be a mellow member of the "Real McCall" sundae, a 10-scoop, five sauce behemoth. Or it can be added to what has become my new Portland food jones: the ice cream-filled waffle sandwich. Really, why have two scoops in a waffle cone when you can have two scoops on an entire waffle made from Cool Moon's excellent cultured waffle batter, with its fine sour twang and savory essence?
The most wonderful thing about this creation is what occurs when you eat it. First, there's the slight warm crunch and cake-like texture of the waffle that slowly gives way to the smooth melt of ice cream. Then, there's the play of flavor on the tongue. Whatever you chose from Cool Moon's cooler, the waffle wonderfully grounds the sweetness of the ice cream.
The Pearl District has worked hard to clean its streets of drug addicts—but there's a new kind of junkie wandering the mannered streets. They're looking for an ice cream 'n' waffle fix. Don't worry, they're not dangerous. In fact, most are only knee high. But if the temperature is around 80 degrees and they're chasing the drips around an ice cream cone, they might mug you for a glass of ice water.