As I was researching on where to eat while visiting Portland last month, I came across an article featuring Fifty Licks, one of the new food carts that opened in the past year. Fifty Licks specializes in Homemade Ice Cream with flavours such as Caramel Apple, Stumptown Coffee, Maple with Bacon, Slabtown Whiskey, Tahitian Vanilla, and Coconut Lemon Saffron Sorbet.
During the summer months, the Fifty Licks food cart was parked at the ‘Good Food Here‘ cart pod at SE 43rd Ave and Belmont Street. It is the same cart pod as where other well-known carts such as Lardo, Eurotrash, and Cackalack’s Hot Chicken Shack are located. I thought I was going to be able to hit the Fifty Licks cart for dessert as I was planning to try the other three carts for dinner. I found out sadly that the Fifty Licks cart is closed for the season. I guess Oregonians don’t really eat ice cream after it drops below a certain temperature unlike us crazy Canucks.
As I was perusing the Fifty Licks website, I found out a number of retailers in the Portland area carry Fifty Licks products all year round including Whole Foods and New Seasons supermarkets. Hence, all was not lost.
I went to one of the Whole Foods in Portland and picked up a container of Fifty Licks to try. My first choice was the Maple with Bacon. I had read that the bacon is first cooked, then the slices are re-smoked using applewood chips and a smoke-chamber. Apparently there is so much bacon that every fifth lick of ice cream comes with a crunchy bite of smoky bacon. Unfortunately, it was sold out. Hence, I ended up with my second choice, which was the Coconut Lemon Saffron Sorbet ($6).
The Coconut Lemon Saffron Sorbet is made from a blend of coconut milk and lemon juice and is infused with saffron, lemon zest, cardamom, and star anise. To my pleasant surprise, the sorbet was a lot creamier than I had expected because of the coconut milk. I was really impressed at the complex flavour of the sorbet. I could taste a bit of the cardamom and star anise although both were quite mild. There were flecks of lemon zest and threads of saffron interspersed all throughout. The sorbet was not as tart as I had anticipated as the tartness was tempered by the coconut milk. I would say this is one of the most complex tasting sorbets I’ve had. It was so delicious that I couldn’t stop eating it. And as an added bonus, not that it mattered to me, the sorbet is also dairy free and vegan-friendly.
If the taste of this Coconut Lemon Saffron Sorbet is any indication, I’m really looking forward to trying the Maple Bacon gelato on my next visit to Portland. Though this container of Fifty-Licks is a little on the pricey side at $6 relative to other gourmet ice cream brands at the US supermarkets (both Haagen-Dazs and Ben & Jerry’s are usually priced around $3 for a pint), I totally think it is worth it. I can totally taste the difference in quality. And really, for us Canucks, we are already accustomed to paying around $6 for a pint of gourmet ice cream here in Canada so I didn’t think that carton of Fifty Licks was really that pricey.