Cheese Bar’s Steve Jones taps into his other two loves—chocolate and beer—to create weirdly wonderful pairings.
Salt & Nibs Woodblock + Marionberry Hibiscus Gose Widmer Brothers Brewing
“Woodblock is Portland’s one true bean-to-bar operation, and they’re making great chocolate. It’s a perfect pair for this Gose—which is such a great, out-there selection from Widmer—because they both have a pleasing salty quality. The sweet, salty, and bitter play off of each other really nicely. ”
Mint Bar Bees and Beans + Gigantic IPA Gigantic Brewing
“When Faith Dionne from Bees and Beans started bringing in her chocolates, I was instantly hooked. The fresh, herbaceous mint in this bar is a great parallel for the explosive, complex hoppiness of Gigantic’s IPA. ”
Younger Than Springtime Fancy Pants + Sunrise Oatmeal Pale Ale Fort George Brewery
“I love that Fort George uses oatmeal to make a pale ale—it’s a fun tweak on a grain that people aren’t expecting. Its bitter hop profile works really well with the mango of the Fancy Pants bar, because sweet fruit balances out that strong, hoppy body. ”
Bourbon Raleigh Bar Xocolatl de Davíd + Figgy Pudding Block 15 Brewery
“This is just double-plus love. I’m a big fan of David Briggs’s chocolates, and I love that he throws bourbon in this one. Pair it with the Figgy Pudding, which is brewed with figs and molasses and aged in brandy barrels, and you get boozy, rich, fruity goodness.”
HOW TO: Get Sweet
Fill the quintessential Rose City chocolate box.
Sahagún: Oregon Kiss
True to its name, this is a bite of our fair state, made from Oregon hazelnuts mingling with milk chocolate and sea salt, then wrapped up in Ecuadorian chocolate and dusted generously with cocoa powder. Its luscious core is a quintessential mix of nuts and chocolate, with a bracingly salty finish.
Cocanú: Holy Wood
The beguiling Holy Wood bar announces itself with the sweet, nostalgic aroma of Palo Santo, an Ecuadorian wood beloved by Amazonian shamans for its cleansing properties. Here, it blends effortlessly into a creamy, subtly fruity square of 68 percent dark chocolate made from wild Bolivian cacao.
Lillie Belle Farms: Marzipan Fig
The marzipan fig confection is a sphere of rum-and-spice-poached black mission figs wrapped in marzipan, dipped in dark chocolate, and coated in almonds. With its boozy aroma and festive flavors, you’ll want some around for the holidays.
Batch PDX: Spicy Passion
With a white chocolate exterior and a tongue-tickling interior of pepper spice and passion-fruit ganache, this quirky confection epitomizes the exacting approach of chocolatier Jeremy Karp. It will leave you thrilled, confused, and satisfied—and plagued by a desire to try everything else he makes.
Seely Family Farm: Peppermint Patties
The peppermint patties from the Seely family’s fourth-generation mint farm in Clatskanie boast
a soft center of refreshing, minty fondant
surrounded by dark Belgian chocolate. It’s like a York Peppermint Pattie with a culinary degree. seelyfamilyfarm.com
The top frozen wonders from Portland’s growing artisan ice cream scene
Salted Peanut Butter Cup
Alma Chocolate (140 NE 28th Ave; almachocolate.com)
For addicts of peanut butter cups and ice cream, this is the ultimate poppy field: Alma’s cult cups, audaciously dark and explosively creamy, buried in the cold comfort of custard ice cream. Find it in the whimsical, nano-batch ice cream rotation from ace chocolatier Sarah Hart, available in half-pints only.
Lovely’s Fifty-Fifty (4039 N Mississippi Ave)
In the year’s best fruit flavor, farm-fresh apricots chunk, swirl, and luxuriate through orbs of peach-leaf ice cream. Each scoop embodies the fruit’s sweet, earthy, bitter juice. When apricots fall out of season, peaches step in.
Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons
Salt & Straw (2035 NE Alberta St, 838 NW 23rd Ave)
In a citywide power struggle for the best salted-caramel ice cream, upstart Salt & Straw has pushed competitors aside and grabbed the throne. These are not so much scoops as chilled meditations on the quiet beauty of local cream and good, stony salt, counterbalanced by discreet patches of caramel cooked to the edge of burnt goodness.
Cool Moon Ice Cream (1105 NW Johnson St)
The desire to dive into a fine coffee ice cream knows no limits or season—only a hunger for that cold, rich blast of roasty intensity. Cool Moon delivers and adds fat chocolate speckles, giving extra crunch and joy to every bite. Each bite holds a dark coffee essence that tastes straight from grandma’s kitchen table. No wonder: the secret ingredient is Folgers Instant.