Green With Ruby Jewel Envy

I love my neighborhood, but I have to admit that N. Mississippi Avenue gets cooler by the minute. Literally. This morning, Portland’s beloved Ruby Jewel opens the doors of their first scoop shop, selling handmade ice creams, sundaes, waffle cones, and of course, their signature ice cream sandwiches. It’s giving me a serious case of neighborhood scoop shop envy. 

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We popped into the cheery, Neopolitan and mint-hued shop–which lies just a stone’s throw from notable neighbors like Amnesia Brewing, The Meadow, and Mee Sen Thai–last night for the pre-Grand Opening party.

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We were greeted warmly, shown the menu, and told we could order anything and everything on it, on the house.

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After they revived us, we got busy. Imagine being given carte blanche over an artisan ice cream shop menu? This was any cold treat-lover’s greatest dream–we were the proverbial kids in the ice cream store. We first sampled each of the three signature sundaes–the Rosemary Langer, Ahhh Joy, and The Split. We then tasted nearly all the ice cream flavors, from the familiar Honey Lavender to the pert Fresh Mint Flake to the ganache-topped Caramel with Salted Dark Chocolate. There are two “cow-free” vegan flavors–Raspberry Ice and Cherry-Almond Ice, but calling them ices doesn’t do them justice–they are smooth, creamy and lavish upon the tongue.

The menu also offers a Make-A-Sandwich option–you choose two double chocolate, lemon or chocolate chip cookies (mixing and matching is allowed), then pick which ice cream you’d like smushed between them. Passionate DIY’ers or anyone who needs something for the road can take home a pre-packed pint, a bundle of cookies, or a “Make Your Own Sandwich” kit. Cone purists can simply request a scoop or three–lovingly cradled in a warm waffle cone made right before your eyes. The scent of these cones wafts into the street through Ruby Jewel’s big roll-up front door, and you could almost watch passerby float towards the shop, led by their nostrils, like something out of a Warner Brothers cartoon.

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"The Split"--Chocolate, strawberry, and vanilla ice cream with freshly sliced bananas, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, peanut brittle, and an amarena cherry on top.

All the toppings were lined up on the counter for tasting–handmade marshmallow, brightly-colored licorice-flavored sprinkles, rosemary pecans, salty Marcona almonds, candied coconut, peanut brittle, and three kinds of exotic sea salts from Ruby Jewel’s new neighbor, The Meadow. The rosemary pecans were particularly moan-inducing, particularly when paired with vanilla ice cream and dulce de leche in the Rosemary Langer Sundae.

Offhand, I’d say my favorite creation of the evening was the Ahhh Joy Sunday–there was something special about the combination of rich vanilla ice cream, smoldering chocolate sauce, candied coconut, and the scattering of big salty Marcona almonds. I may have to return today and have it for lunch.

The Ruby Jewel ice cream dream team (and sisters), Lisa “The Creator” Herlinger-Esco and Becky “Events and Sales” Burnett, were on hand to answer questions, modestly accept free-flowing praise, and ruefully explain that today’s opening will be no big deal–last Saturday’s “soft” opening during the Mississippi Street Festival was such a madhouse, the Grand Opening crowd is likely to pale in comparison. Although you never know–there are a lot of PDX ice cream dreamers out there…

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Ruby Jewel * 3713 N. Mississippi Ave. * 11am – 11pm * www.rubyjewel.net