What’s the Scoop?

What's the Scoop?, North Portland, Oregon

When I was little, my dad had a BetaMax camera that he used for gathering family memories. He had a signature style — narrating from behind the camera, asking his kids lots of questions in order to illicit the most adorable responses and actions, and having long, drawn-out goodbyes at the end of each segment.

A few years ago, for Christmas, we had all the old BetaMax tapes updated and put on DVDs as a surprise for my mom. She loved them, and we sat around for hours that Christmas reliving all the hilarious (and sometimes monotonous) daily goings-on of the Gray household in the 1980s.

In one particularly cute interchange between my dad and I, I sit in just a diaper in an oversized high chair, hair in a very fashion-forward mullet style. My dad cues me with a call-and-response song:

Do you like ice cream? I said:

Yes, I do!

Do you love ice cream? I said:

Yes, I do!

Would you like some? I said:

Yes, I would!

Cause it’s good, good, good.

What's the Scoop?, North Portland, Oregon

Clearly my childhood was filled with lots of this frozen treat. It’s a good thing since I live in a city that values their ice cream so much. I recently found a new and absolutely delicious spot on N. Williams Ave. — What’s the Scoop? Their signature flavor is the brown butter almond brittle (every bit as delicious as it sounds). Pair it with a housemade, fresh-off-the-press “fortune cookie” cone and you’ve got a winning pair.

What's the Scoop?, North Portland, Oregon

Run, don’t walk, to What’s the Scoop?, located at 3540 N. Williams Ave. Follow them on Twitter for more of the sweet stuff.

Salt & Straw

Salt & Straw, Portland, Oregon

It was late (for the elementary-schools kids we were) and my dad had picked us up from our evening swim lessons at the Aloha Swim Center. This was great news, because my dad is a very soft touch. This guy didn’t need to be told twice that tonight, we were getting ice cream on our way home. His favorite was a DQ Peanut Buster Parfait, and so off to the Dairy Queen we headed. As our creaky brown Ford Aerostar lurched into the drive-thru, he turned to us with his most serious expression and said, “Girls. The no-tell rule is on.” We nodded our agreement solemnly. This was the pact.

Like most conscientious mothers of the 1980s, my mom did not want us out and about, willy-nilly, eating ice cream at all hours of the day and night. But we were kids, for crying out loud, and we had needs. So the no-tell rule was invented. We got the ice cream, had a rollicking good time and then we hid the evidence (including checking my sister Emily’s chin and upper lip for signs of chocolate and dumping any cups/spoons in the outside garbage can where mom was sure not to notice them.)

This particular night was a gorgeous one — summertime, the windows were rolled down and the sky was a soft grayish pink in the last few minutes of daylight. We didn’t talk, as we were all three engrossed in our Peanut Buster Parfaits. And then, just as my dad saw the police car out of his right peripheral vision, he noticed that he was speeding — and that the light 100 yards in front of him was turning from yellow to red.

“Girls, I’m about to get a ticket,” he said, as the car sailed through the light and the police car threw on its lights. Moments later, all the magic was gone. We were bathed in the flashing lights, and my appetite was ruined. I was a very sensitive kid, and the act of watching my infallible dad get pulled over and issued a ticket freaked me out to the core. I wondered for a moment if I’d throw up right there. My ice cream melted in the cupholder.

After that, we trudged home slowly, and went through the motions of hiding the trash (and my half-eaten sundae) before we went inside. My mom met us at the door and my dad gave her a look. “What happened?” she asked us. It was Emily that spoke first.

“Dad got a ticket for running a red light!” she practically screamed. I’m sure my dad really appreciated that. “And the lady at the drive-thru…” She trailed off, but it was too late. In her excitement to spill the beans about the ticket, she’d broken the code of the no-tell rule. We were busted.

“Lady at the drive-thru, huh?” mom asked. Emily turned red and sulked away. My dad offered his most sheepish grin and — with a communal laugh at the absurdity of the entire situation — all was forgiven.

Salt & Straw, Portland, Oregon

I heard once that in Portland, we eat more ice cream per capita than any other U.S. city. I have no idea if that stat is true, but judging by the lines around the block at Salt & Straw’s three locations rain or shine, I’d say there’s some truth to it. Salt & Straw isn’t Portland’s original artisan ice cream — it’s actually a relative newcomer in the local ice cream scene — but its slick branding and inventive flavors have made it a favorite with pretty much everyone. I haven’t met anyone yet who doesn’t like it.

When it comes to the flavors, bold choices like strawberry balsamic and goat cheese marionberry habañero are stars on the menu, but I usually prefer the really well-done classics. It’s usually a toss-up for me between the sea salt with caramel or freckled woodblock chocolate.  Don’t worry — the no-tell rule is on.

Salt & Straw, Portland, Oregon

Salt & Straw has such a popularity problem that they now have three locations. The original is at 2035 NE Alberta in the Alberta Arts District of NE Portland. Their other locations are on SE Division and NW 23rd. They have an ice cream pushcart on 1st Street in Lake Oswego, and if the past is any indication, I’m sure they’ll have a shop there soon.