Three years ago, cousins Kim and Tyler Malek started churning up crazy pints of ice cream bursting with Oregon seasonality, artisan food finds, and brazen ideas. They tapped local beers, chocolates, and pinot noir—even bone marrow and foie gras got into the act. Now, day and night, rain or shine, their shops on NE Alberta St, NW 23rd Ave and SE Division St draw out-the-door lines of regulars, giggling teens, and food-obsessed tourists in search of an ice cream adventure.
Now, Eat Beat has learned the Maleks are taking their talents to Los Angeles. The Maleks have inked a lease in Larchmont Village, LA’s bohemian Beverly Hills, with plans to open a branch in August. A note, they’re not the only local phenom heading south: Duane Sorenson recently opened a branch of Stumptown Coffee Roasters in downtown LA (Stumptown’s coffee was one of the first local ingredients to find its way into a Salt & Straw ice cream—the intensely lovely “coffee and bourbon”).
Salt & Straw LA will follow Portland’s model: 11 signature house flavors, including the vaunted Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons, plus limited edition monthly specials that will speak to Los Angeles’ food scene, with collaborations between young ice cream turk Tyler Malek and a cast of farmers, chefs, cheese-makers, brewers, and butchers from Southern California to the Central Coast.
Salt & Straw has already made an incursion in Los Angeles at the food-lover’s magnet Joan's on Third. Since last year, the popular Melrose Avenue food emporium has been scooping Salt & Straw’s 17 percent butterfat-laden flavors from a stand next to Joan’s lauded pastry case, drawing comments like “holy shit that’s good” from bloggers. For the past year, the Maleks have been taking regular jaunts to LA, building chef relationships, scouting farms, and scheming a way to bring S&S to a city with artisan food momentum and an its own impressive obsession with ice cream. At last year’s Feast Portland, Tyler and star LA chef Michael Voltaggio (Ink restaurant) teamed to create what was surely the world’s first “Loaded Baked Potato” ice cream, rippled with chocolate-cloaked bacon crumbs and cheddar cookie dough.
While they nailed down the plans to open their first shop on Northeast Alberta Street in 2011, the Maleks scooped ice cream on the street from a custom-made ice cream wagon. They’ll take the streets again in LA, but with a roving truck serving house fixtures such as Double Fold Vanilla and Chocolate with Gooey Brownie.
“Los Angeles has a completely different growing season,” says Tyler, who is already working on a LA-inspired Chocolate Farm Chevre with Olive Brittle. “The long tomato season, the avocados, the citrus. It will be fun to do something completely different.” That’s putting is mildly.