Tag: Boca Chica
Ah, the simple pleasures of summer. There’s hardly a more appropriate way to spend a lazy summer day than indulging in a time honored trip to the Ice Cream Shop. If those ice cream shops happen to be tucked into the shady, gracious, tree-lined streets of St. Paul, you have an even more perfect way to spend the day. Recently I took my voracious appetite for the simple pleasures of ice cream for a test drive by extending the fun and hitting a number of my favorite places in a makeshift St. Paul Ice Cream Crawl. It was such a tasty adventure I would make it a weekly tradition, if it didn’t mean I’d need to purchase a new wardrobe heavy on the elastic waistband!
My favorite spot to hit when embarking on a St. Paul ice cream crawl: Izzy’s. Besides being the official home to the famous Izzy scoop, Marshall Avenue’s modern little nook is nestled between some of the city’s most charming shops, including a specialty store devoted entirely to train enthusiasts – Choo Choo Bob’s Train Store – and a confection shop practically cavity-inducing from window gaze alone, Sweets Bakeshop. Stop into Izzy’s and you’ll be greeted by a friendly staff of eager youngsters, just as happy to serve you a scoop as you are to eat one. Izzy’s rule is easy: pick a flavor and get a free tiny scoop of your choice flavor on top. This is your Izzy scoop.
Choose wisely. Because while it may seem like a relatively trivial decision, it’s not. Certain tastes align; certain flavors repel. It’s this magical alchemy that elevates Izzy’s above the usual ice cream suspects. Green Apple may sound like a delicious pick, but throw an Izzy scoop of Norwegian Chai on top, and everything changes. Consider it a palate expanding flavor experiment. If you’ll still craving the Green Apple, why not pair it with the Salted Caramel? Be careful though, before you know it you’ll have eaten yourself into an afternoon nap!
For my first flavors of the day, I chose a scoop of Cinnamon with a Norwegian Chai Izzy and my over-indulgent brother/ice cream adventure pal picked a double scoop of Mexican Chocolate Fiesta and Salted Caramel with a Butter Pecan Izzy. The Cinnamon is amazing, delightfully sweet with a kick of spicy zest. The muted Chai flavor would have been great on its own, but just couldn’t compete with the Cinnamon kick. I stole a taste of the Mexican Chocolate Fiesta, which indeed was like a party in my mouth. It had the flavors of a perfect mole sauce – minus the onion/garlic-y taste, of course – with just the right blend of dark cocoa and spice. The Salted Caramel proved to be too salty for a scoop-size portion – perhaps it’s a flavor best kept as an Izzy. The prices are quite reasonable for the exceptional quality. A single scoop goes for $4.75 and a double will only set you back $5.60.
Another vital step in ice cream crawl is the cleansing of the palate, especially since I had my heart set on something fruity for my next scoop and my mouth was still swimming in spice. A great cup of coffee or a cup of cold water should do the trick. Onward!
Placing one amazing ice cream parlor so dangerously close to another practically begs for gluttony. Not being ones to pass up a good deadly sin, we acquiesced. Voted one of the “Top Twelve Ice Cream Stops in the Nation” by Saveur Magazine, the Grand Ole Creamery is truly a gem of St. Paul and in atmosphere the antithesis of Izzy’s. In place of a mod-ish, clean design, the Grand Ole Creamery relies more on the nostalgia with malt shop aesthetics. The menu is hand-written. The ice cream is homemade and the shop is full of 1950′s relics. It conjures up thoughts of a simpler time – sans smart phones and On Demand cable – a time when hanging at the ice cream shop was the “cool” thing to do on a hot summer’s day. The array of suspiciously happy-seeming families completed the scene. All the stresses of modern life seem to melt away when a scoop of creamy goodness is in your future…
The Grand Ole Creamery offers what’s known as a “split scoop” for $5.75. Perfect for the indecisive, the split scoop allows you to have all the delicious frills of a double scoop without the extravagant portion size or the calories. So on this stop,
I can pretend to over-indulge as well. I picked a split scoop of Rum Cherry and Black Walnut and my ice cream eating friend chose Cheesecake and Cotton Candy. There are no words to describe the Rum Cherry/Black Walnut combo. It was perfection in a dish. And the Cotton Candy actually melted in my mouth the way real cotton candy does. Beautiful stuff.
The location of Grand Ole Creamery on the East end of the Victoria / Grand shopping district is an invitation for a pleasant stroll through the delightful shops of this bustling and genteel hub. Not to mention a good way to burn off a tiny bit of the calories you’ve just consumed.
With all this ice cream you may be ready for something equally summery but a bit lighter. We headed a bit further east and across the Wabasha Ave. bridge into the District del Sol neighborhood to tiny La Chiquita for a taste of ice cream done Mexican style (helados), or one of the delightful fruit popsicles called paletas. We thought these refreshing treats would be the perfect end to our adventure. Alas, we had forgotten the limited hours (3pm to 8pm) and arrived too early to satisfy our craving for frozen Mexican goodness. Don’t make our mistake. Time your crawl right so you can enjoy the charms of this unique del Sol spot. We took advantage of our location and finished off the day with a lunch at the excellent Grand Dame of Mexican restaurants Boca Chica, which sits directly across the street from La Chiquita. The lightly spicy Mexican staples were a tasty, if incongruous, end to our ice cream jaunt.
Try an Ice Cream Crawl for yourself, or visit just one of these ice cream spots before another summer passes you by. You’re sure to find the perfect flavor combinations to compliment a sunny St. Paul day.