Making Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream at What's the Scoop in Portland, OR
When we stopped by What's the Scoop on Portland's North Williams street, we didn't know that we were in for a show. But we lucked out, and owners Jodie and Brian Ostrovsky were about to mix up a batch of their Mocha Chip ice cream.
The couple started experimenting with ice cream making at home, following recipes from David Lebovitz's book The Perfect Scoop. They worked in a basement at first, perfecting their recipes and churning out ice cream for wholesale accounts and restaurants, and opened their first storefront a few months ago. A tasting bar greets you as you enter—feel free to take your time tasting as many flavors as you want, or skip it if you're all decided, since the ordering line is streamlined and separate.
Though some of the flavors—featuring cream from Lochmead Dairy in Eugene—are classic, others are unusual, like a peanut butter curry flavor and a Bananas Foster sorbet made with just roasted bananas, brown sugar, dark rum, and lime juice. Their Cortadito, inspired by the Cuban coffee Jodie enjoyed in her hometown of Miami, is made with brown butter and Bustelo coffee. Their nostalgia-inducing chocolate shell is made with Guittard chocolate, and cones are made fresh daily, based on a recipe for fortune cookie batter.
But what's most unusual is their ice cream making process, which employs big tanks of liquid nitrogen to freeze the ice cream as it churns. At first, the nitrogen was just a temporary stopgap for the Ostrovskys, but they received so many compliments on the texture (a result of the fast-freezing process that yields smaller ice crystals) that they stuck with it. We got a chance to watch the ice cream making magic happen in person—check out the slideshow to watch it step by step.