Unusual ice cream maker scoops up success, needs workers

PORTLAND, Ore. - Just one year ago, local ice cream maker Salt and Straw of Portland was operating out of a food cart on Alberta Street.

But following a mention from Oprah Winfrey, an expansion to a store in Northeast Portland and a move into a corner shop on Portland's boutique business enclave on NW 23rd Avenue, the purveyor of unusual creamy treats is scooping up some big business - and they are hiring.

Flavors run from the mostly familiar - such as Double Fold Vanilla or Chocolate with Gooey Brownies - to some real head scratchers, like Pear with Blue Cheese, or Strawberry Honey Balsamic with Black Pepper.

And don't miss Dandelion Sorbet with Edible Wildflowers from the list of seasonal offerings, among other interesting choices, including Sweet Heat Apricot Wheat Ale with Candied Peppers or Brown Ale with Bacon.

That's right, there's beer and even meat in some of the flavors - which is not surprising, considering the culinary history involved in the business and their local emphasis, according to their website.

Owner Kim Malek said the company is looking to hire baristas, servers and ice cream makers. The NW 23rd Avenue location also offers espresso and baked goods in the morning.

"We started to realize that you could work with local beer brewers, local cheese makers, local butchers, all sorts of different producers to feature the best of what Oregon has to offer in ice cream," Malek told KATU News.

Recent hire Liz VanRossen said she's actually lost weight in the two months she's been on the job. "It's like exercising coming here," she said as she busily scooped and then packed freshly made ice cream into a container.

Customer Amy Daisy said it was her second visit in just a couple of days. "It's fabulous," she said of the ice cream.

The name "Salt and Straw" refers to the way ice cream was made before modern methods when it was made with rock salt and packed in straw to keep it cold.