So Erin Zimmer and I were in Oregon, doing stuff like checking out farmers' markets and eating at food carts. We ate some fancy ice cream in Portland, but as we drove down the coast, I told Erin that I really wanted to write about the ice cream at Tillamook.
I have a soft spot in my heart for this stuff; it's the ice cream I grew up with, and the ice cream we'd enjoy on rainy days at the coastal summer camp where I worked (best solution to a rained-out hike? Take all the kids to the Tillamook Cheese Factory!) But I worried a bit that it was just the nostalgia talking, so I didn't really emphasize to Erin how good Tillamook ice cream is. She had to taste it for herself, unclouded by what I'll call the Ice Cream Cognition Theory.
I got pretty excited as we neared the production plant/cheese-stravaganza/loaf love tour that is Tillamook. And it was neat to check out the cheese-making facilities. But as we neared the front of the line in the ice cream area of the visitor's center, I spotted it, and our real purpose for the visit became clear.
The Ice Cream Adventure. For a mere $25.95, you can have not just some ice cream, but all the ice cream. Every flavor they've got, in what they call "a golf ball sized scoop" (traditional scoops are, well, a bit bigger than that) stacked in one platter-sized bowl. I'm not sure Erin and I even needed to speak to agree on the mission.
Even better: in addition to your 31 different-flavored scoops, you also get a performance.
Wanna hear it?
Thanks to the help of champion scooper Brandon Killian, we snagged a photo of each scoop as it was added to the bowl (in the order of the menu so we could keep track) and started our mission to taste every flavor of Tillamook ice cream.
Yes, our giant bowl of ice cream drew a few stares and questions. And we couldn't convince young Brandon Kilian to cut out of work early and help us tackle the project. But we persevered in the name of Serious Eats, tasting each and every flavor (though we didn't eat an entire scoop of any single ice cream...we're only human, even if we are veterans of the great We Eat Every Cheesecake At The Cheesecake Factory war.)
As we tasted, we were continually impressed by the the fluffy, elastic texture of Tillamook's ice cream, and how the flavors tended toward the nostalgic without being crazy-sweet. You won't see a foie gras flavor here anytime soon; this is old fashioned ice cream, and we like it that way.
Tell us: have you ever embarked on the Ice Cream Adventure at Tillamook? Do you have a favorite flavor?