Salt & Straw Downtown LA
It’s like we’re the only two people in the room, besides the 20-something flavors. The Arts District space, twice the size of its Larchmont sibling, smells like frost and nothing else. I’m really one of the pioneer customers here.
I begin with the seasonal Spooktacular flavor “Essense of Ghost.” It’s lighthearted like a spirit. I return the tasting spoon to the employee. She directs me to the bucket. I ask to try ”Dracula’s Blood,” which is not for the faint of heart and vegans. It contains chicken liver and blood pudding, among other palpableingredients. Although the soon-to-be opened brick-and-mortar used to be a chorizo factory, the carnivorous spirit still lives on. I return the tasting spoon to the employee out of habit. I try the “Silencio Black Tea & Coconut Stracciatella,” which I’m not sure I’ve ever tried before. After sampling it, I narrowed my choices to: my all-time favorite ”Olive Brittle & Goat Cheese” and half a scoop each of the
”Freckled Woodblock Chocolate” and “Stumptown Coffee & Compartes Love Nuts” to wake me up a bit from this Wonka factory dream. The employee says my portions are called the Mickey Mouse. Fair enough. I’m at a happier place, in which I don’t have to spend constant cash on a frozen lemonade or customized hat.
Casey Milligan, director of operations, brings the wine tasting and personal experience at each Salt & Straw shop. It no longer feels like the customers are in L.A. There’s actual time to chit chat and sample every flavor.
Despite the Arts District location being ready months in advance, the building went through much transitioning and caused the delays. Salt & Straw founder Kim Malek was at the pre-opening, along with salt sommelier and food author Mark Bitterman, flavor maker Tyler Malek and first scooper Ian Kane.
Salt & Straw was first opened in Portland by Kim. She wanted to have an ice cream shop since the ’90s. However, it was not until 2011 when she and Tyler collaborated on their brainchild. Pretty soon, Ian was the first to serve their sweet treats from a push cart for three months.
The first flavor created by Tyler was “Sourdough & Olive Oil Fudge Ice Cream.”
“I am a culinary dropout, but I equate ice cream making with soup making,” says Tyler.
“The idea is to make a recipe we know how to use and build off what we know,” says Tyler. “[That’s] my number one trick,” he adds.
The “Candy Cornucopia,” requires six hands for the homemade versions of Reeses (peanut butter and chocolate), Heath (toffee andchocolate), Snickers (cougat, caramel, peanuts and chocolate) and Whoppers (milk chocolate balls).
“We like to export a culture, not a product,” says Tyler about the artisanal ice cream company.
Every flavor is not just a sweet or savory tang to the tongue. It is a collaborative effort and a story of the source of ingredients and everything else in between.
For more info., visit: www.saltandstraw.com.
Salt & Straw Arts District is located at 829 E. 3rd St.