Portland cult ice cream shop opening in Little Italy

Get ready to line up for Salt & Straw. No umbrella needed.

Portland's cult ice cream shop is opening its first San Diego location in Little Italy sometime this winter.

It's fitting that one of the trendier food brands coming out of Portland (see Pok PokVoodoo Doughnut and "Portlandia") would land in the heart of San Diego's culinary core.

Salt & Straw will be at 1670 India Street, downstairs from Prepkitchen and on the same block as Ironside Fish & OysterBurger Lounge and Davanti Enoteca.

Known for its creatively flavored, small-batch frozen treats made with only premium ingredients, Salt & Straw has developed a loyal following at home in Portland and at its outposts in Los Angeles and San Francisco. A Seattle location will open later this year.

"They're lining up like rock-concert hopefuls for a taste of something that confounds expectations of what a scoop shop can be," gushed food writer Karen Brooks in Portland Monthly.

And Andrew Zimmern, host of Travel Channel's "Bizzare Foods," also weighed in: "They have some brilliant, brilliant ice cream ... every flavor reeks of Portland." (That's a good thing.)

From Salt & Straw's practice of using local, seasonal ingredients from area farms came the quintessentially Portland turn of phrase, "farm to cone."

The shop's signature ice creams include Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons and Honey Lavender and the ever-changing flavor lineup runs the gamut from the classics (Double Fold Vanilla, Chocolate Gooey Brownie) to the creative (Chocolate Date Shake, Roasted Strawberry and Toasted White Chocolate) and the truly unique (Sweet Pea and Fresh Mint, Cream Cheese and Tomatillo Jam, Black Olive Brittle and Goat Cheese).

Tyler Malek, the head ice cream maker who founded the company in 2011 with his cousin Kim Malek, said the San Diego location will feature San Diego-only flavors inspired by the local food scene and ingredients. A company spokeswoman said those flavors were still in development.

S&S will use only cream from Chino's Scott Brothers Dairy, which will then be churned in 5- to 10-gallon batches in the ice cream chain's LA kitchen.

"It's a dream come true to have the opportunity to work in the San Diego food community," Tyler Malek said in a statement announcing the Little Italy opening.

"When you look at the success and innovation of local chefs, breweries, farmers, fishermen, wineries, bakers, etc., it's hard not to get excited about jumping in to build on this creative food scene and develop menus in partnership with these amazing folks," he said.

"When I look at chefs like Brian Malarkey, the farmers markets like Little Italy Mercato and non-profits like Feeding San Diego, it's clear San Diego has become an incubator for pushing the limits on how food should be grown, prepared, served and shared. It's hard not to look at San Diego as a sister-city to Portland - maybe with slightly warmer weather and an entirely new crop of ingredients to play with."

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