Thursday, August 28, 2014

Minneapolis: Ice Cream Near the Parks

The Franklin Ave. location of Sebastian Joe's.
This post is part of a series celebrating my new favorite ice cream destination, Minneapolis.

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When a city gets so cold during the winter that it necessitates the creation of the Skyway System for people to move from building to building in order to avoid being outdoors, you can wager residents have numerous ways to relish the warmer months. Indeed, wandering Minneapolis in June, it was no wonder why people would choose to live here. An immaculately clean downtown area with modern-looking skyscrapers and plenty of greenery, the Mississippi River cuts through the middle with a gorgeous waterside park to enjoy, right near the famed Guthrie Theater.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
Two of the most popular (and most worthy of a tourist’s time) outdoor attractions are Minnehaha Falls and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. The former, a light rail stop or two north of the airport, is a 193-acre park area surrounding the largest waterfall to feed into a river that leads to the Mississippi; the latter is an 11-acre garden that is part of the Walker Art Center at the western edge of the diamond that is downtown Minneapolis. Another fun activity is renting a kayak at Lake Calhoun and paddling around a chain of lakes. Conveniently, each of these attractions are near places serving Sebastian Joe’s ice cream.

Minnehaha Falls.
Offering a rotating assortment of over 100 flavors, Sebastian Joe’s has all its bases covered, from classics from the ice cream canon, to scoops with tons of mix-ins, to imaginative flavors that might not exist anywhere else. Take for example my first sampling, which I treated myself to after traipsing around Minnehaha Falls for well over an hour.* While dipping my feet in the Mississippi had a rejuvenating effect on my epidermis, eating a bowl of Vanilla Basil ice cream topped with some Raspberry Chocolate Chip washed away any dust that had collected on my soul. The vanilla blended with the basil in a way that was refreshing and slightly herby without being savory, all while tinting the ice cream a light shade of green. And each bite of the Raspberry Chocolate Chip had seedy evidence of real fruit having been used, plus the spare use of the chocolate chip (or chocolate covered raspberry seeds?) added just the right touch of sweetness to balance out the light tarty effect of the ice cream. I’ve had a lot, but I can’t remember a Raspberry Chocolate Chip better than Sebastian Joe’s. I went back and forth in my mind, but I couldn’t decide which of the two flavors I liked better. All I knew was I needed to return to Sebastian Joe’s before my time in Minneapolis was done.

*Sebastian Joe’s ice cream is served at Sea Salt Eatery, a seasonal stand featured on numerous best-of-Minneapolis lists that has lines out the door for its fish tacos. Luckily, the ice cream line is separate on the opposite side.

Images from kayaking the chain of lakes connected to Lake Calhoun.

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